"Scientific" football is first recorded in 1839 from Lancashireand in the modern game in Rugby football from 1862and from Sheffield FC as early as 1865.The first side to play a passing combination game was the Royal Engineers AFC in 1869/70By 1869 they were "work[ing] well together", "backing up" and benefiting from "cooperation".By 1870 the Engineers were passing the ball: "Lieut. Creswell, who having brought the ball up the side then kicked it into the middle to another of his side, who kicked it through the posts the minute before time was called"Passing was a regular feature of their style By early 1872 the Engineers were the first football team renowned for "play[ing] beautifully together"A double pass is first reported from Derby school against Nottingham Forest in March 1872, the first of which is irrefutably a short pass: "Mr Absey dribbling the ball half the length of the field delivered it to Wallis, who kicking it cleverly in front of the goal, sent it to the captain who drove it at once between the Nottingham posts"The first side to have perfected the modern formation was Cambridge University AFCand introduced the 2–3–5 "pyramid" formation.

In 1848, at Cambridge University, Mr. H. de Winton and Mr. J.C. Thring, who were both formerly at Shrewsbury School, called a meeting at Trinity College, Cambridge with 12 other representatives from Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Winchester and Shrewsbury. An eight-hour meeting produced what amounted to the first set of modern rules, known as the Cambridge rules. No copy of these rules now exists, but a revised version from circa 1856 is held in the library of Shrewsbury School.The rules clearly favour the kicking game. Handling was only allowed when a player catches the ball directly from the foot entitling them to a free kick and there was a primitive offside rule, disallowing players from "loitering" around the opponents' goal. The Cambridge rules were not widely adopted outside English public schools and universities (but it was arguably the most significant influence on the Football Association committee members responsible for formulating the rules of Association football).
By the late 1850s, many football clubs had been formed throughout the English-speaking world, to play various codes of football. Sheffield Football Club, founded in 1857 in the English city of Sheffield by Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest, was later recognised as the world's oldest club playing association football.However, the club initially played its own code of football: the Sheffield rules. The code was largely independent of the public school rules, the most significant difference being the lack of an offside rule.
The code was responsible for many innovations that later spread to association football. These included free kicks, corner kicks, handball, throw-ins and the crossbar.By the 1870s they became the dominant code in the north and midlands of England. At this time a series of rule changes by both the London and Sheffield FAs gradually eroded the differences between the two games until the adoption of a common code in 1877.




Australian Rules

Various forms of football were played in Australia during the Victorian gold rush, from which emerged a distinct and locally popular sport. While these origins are still the subject of much debate the popularisation of the code that is known today as Australian Rules Football is currently attributed to Tom Wills.
Wills wrote a letter to Bell's Life in Victoria & Sporting Chronicle, on July 10, 1858, calling for a "foot-ball club" with a "code of laws" to keep cricketers fit during winter.This is considered by historians to be a defining moment in the creation of the new sport. Through publicity and personal contacts Wills was able to co-ordinate football matches in Melbourne that experimented with various rules,the first recorded of which occurred on July 31, 1858. On 7 August 1858, Wills umpired a relatively well documented schoolboys match between Melbourne Grammar School and Scotch College. Following these matches, organised football matches rapidly increased in popularity.
Wills and others involved in these early matches formed the Melbourne Football Club (the oldest surviving Australian football club) on May 14, 1859. The first members included Wills, William Hammersley, J.B. Thompson and Thomas H. Smith. They met with the intention of forming a set of rules that would be widely adopted by other clubs.
The backgrounds of the original rule makers makes for interesting speculation as to the influences on the rules. Wills, an Australian of convict heritage was educated in England. He was a rugby footballer, a cricketer and had strong links to indigenous Australians. At first he desired to introduce rugby school rules. Hammersley was a cricketer and journalist who emigrated from England. Thomas Smith was a school teacher who emigrated from Ireland. The committee members debated several rules including those of English public school games. Despite including aspects similar to other forms of football there is no conclusive evidence to point to any single influence. Instead the committee decided on a game that was more suited to Australian conditions and Wills is documented to have made the declaration "No, we shall have a game of our own".The code was distinctive in the prevalence of the mark, free kick, tackling, lack of an offside rule and that players were specifically penalised for throwing the ball.
The Melbourne football rules were widely distributed and gradually adopted by the other Victorian clubs. They were redrafting several times during the 1860s to accommodate the rules of other influential Victorian football clubs. A significant re-write in 1866 by H C A Harrison's committee to accommodate rules from the Geelong Football Club made the game, which had become known as "Victorian Rules", increasingly distinct from other codes. It used cricket fields, a rugby ball, specialised goal and behind posts, bouncing with the ball while running and later spectacular high marking. The form of football spread quickly to other other Australian colonies. Outside of its heartland in southern Australia the code experienced a significant period of decline following World War I but has since grown other parts of the world at an amateur level and the Australian Football League emerged as the dominant professional competition.
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