Sheffield Rules (March 1867)

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Sheffield Rules  (1877) 
by the Sheffield Football Association

First set of laws of the Sheffield Football Association, adopted at a meeting held at the Adelphi Hotel, March 6th, 1867. Based on the 1867 laws of the (London) Football Association.


I. The maximum length of ground shall be 200 yards; the maximum breadth shall be 100 yards; the length and breadth shall be marked off with rouge flags;[1] and the goals shall be upright posts, four yards apart, with a bar across them nine feet from the ground, and two flags to be called the rouge flags shall placed one on each side, and in a line with the goal, and four yards distant from it, with a bar across them nine feet from the ground.

II. The winners of the toss shall have the choice of goals. The game shall be commenced by a place kick from the centre of the ground by the side losing the toss; the other side shall not approach within ten yards of the ball until it is kicked off.

III. After a goal is won the losing side shall kick off, and goals shall be changed, but if, in playing a match, half the specified time shall expire without a goal being obtained, the sides shall change goals, the kick off being from the middle, in the same direction as at the commencement of the game.

IV. A goal shall be won when the ball passes between the goal-posts under the tape, not being thrown, knocked on, or carried.

V. When the ball is in touch, a player of the opposite side to that which has kicked it out shall throw it from the point on the boundary line where it left the ground, in a direction at right angles with the boundary line, and it shall not be in play until it has touched the ground, and the player throwing it in shall not play it until it has been played by another player.

VI. Any player between an opponent’s goal and goal-keeper (unless he has followed the ball there) is off-side and out of play. The goal-keeper is that player on the defending side who for the time being is nearest to his own goal.

VII. When the ball is kicked behind the goal line or over the bars of the goal or rouge flags, it must be kicked off by the side behind whose goal it went, within six yards from the limit of their goal. The side who thus kick the ball are entitled to a fair kick off in whatever way they please, the opposite side not being allowed to approach within six yards of the ball. In case the ball is kicked between the rouge flags under the bar, the side kicking it shall be entitled to score one rouge, and the ball shall be kicked off by the defending side as before mentioned.

VIII. A goal outweighs any number of rouges. Should no goals or an equal number be obtained, the match is decided by rouges.

IX. No player shall hold or carry the ball, or knock or push it on with the hand or arm. The side breaking this role forfeits a free kick to the opposite side, and the offending side shall not approach within three yards of the kicker, but nothing in this rule shall extend to drive them to stand behind their goal line.

X. No goal or rouge shall be obtained by a free kick from a penalty.

XI. Neither tripping nor hacking shall be allowed, and no player shall use his hands to hold or push his adversary.

XII. A player shall not throw the ball or pass it to another.

XIII. No player shall take the ball from the ground with his hands while it is in play under any pretence whatever.

XIV. No player shall wear spikes, projecting nails, or iron plates on the soles or heels of his boots.

Definition of Terms[edit]

A "place kick" is a kick at the ball while it is on the ground, in any position in which the kicker may choose to place it.

A "free kick" is the privilege of kicking at the ball without obstruction, in such manner as the kicker may think fit.

"Hacking" is kicking an adversary intentionally.

"Tripping" is throwing an adversary by the use of the legs.

"Knocking on" is when a player strikes or propels the ball with his hands or arms.

"Holding" includes the obstruction of a player by the hand or any part of the arm below the elbow.

"Touch" is that part of the field on either side of the ground which is beyond the line of flags.


  1. Simply "flags" in "Sheffield Football Association". Sporting Life: 4. 1867-03-13.  (Wikisource contributor note)

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1924, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 98 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.