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Football History

First Bladder Footballs The term football is a very general one and can mean different things in different parts of the world - ie. English Football, Australian Football, American Football are all very different and of course there is also Rugby Football.

The origins of football are lost in the distant past as there is some evidence of balls being kicked going back hundreds and perhaps even thousands of years!

In more recent times of documented history it appears that the modern day soccer game began to emerge during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. At these times it was more of an upper class pursuit as ordinary folks had very little time or money to pursue leisure activities.

There is one reference to a game in a 1519 publication which states 'We wyll playe with a ball full of wynde'.

So, most of the fundamental rules of the game began in public schools and inter-school matches began to be held thanks to improved roads and transport. Although one major problem was that each school had it's own set of rules and therefore each match was played following the home teams rules in the first half and the away teams in the second half!

There is some evidence of how the game was played in those times - the team was picked based on each players individual skills and the best players guarded the goal. It appears that picking up the ball was allowed under certain conditions (long before Webb Ellis allegedly first picked up the ball which led to Rugby as a seperate game). There was also a version of offside in that no player was allowed in front of the ball, as in todays rugby, and that also led to scrums being formed to nurse the ball forward.

The modern game truly began with the invention of air filled bladder balls which were easier to control and helped players develop great ball skills.

In the mid 19th century a set of rules were developed called the Cambridge Rules and although they are lost now are no doubt the first beginnings of standardising the whole game across the globe. At that time there were definite elements of what we now call rugby and the game was in fact a mixture of the two.

Towards the end of that century saw the beginnings of professional football and rugby players and this was actually a catalyst to the seperation of football and rugby and the development of clearly seperate rules.

At the start of the 20th century, football had spread worldwide and there was a clear need for international unity on development of the game. This led to the birth of FIFA in 1904 and the rest is history!

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