The history of English football dates back to the 8th century when it was a popular game among the working class. Hundreds of thousands of players participated in violent and disorganized games with many variations across different regions.
Pitches, or playing fields, were not defined by size and could include streets, fields, and village squares. There was a great deal of violence in the game, with players regularly getting kicked and punched and property being damaged or destroyed.
An annual competition was held on Shrove Tuesday in London in the 12th century, when football had become popular. Women also played football during this period.
Several laws were enacted to ban football, including a ban by King Edward II in 1314 and further bans by King Edward III and subsequent kings, despite its popularity.
However, the focus on football during the 100 Years’ War was seen as a hindrance to the practice of archery, which was considered an important part of the defense of the nation.
The game of football began to be regulated and organized in the 16th century after King Henry VIII lifted the ban. Eton College wrote the first football rules in 1633, which outlined the rules for a match between the school’s two teams. This was an important moment in the history of English football.
In 1863, two teams of London clubs played the first known game of football with modern rules at Cambridge University. To standardize the rules of football, the newly formed Football Association (FA) organized the match.
The popularity and importance of football in English culture continued to grow over the next few decades. In 1885, the first professional football club was formed, and the Football League was formed in 1888. In 1871, the FA Cup was held for the first time, and today it is the oldest domestic knockout competition in world football.
In the centuries since football’s early origins in England, the game has evolved significantly. It has become the most popular sport in the world and is played by millions of people around the globe. With England winning the FIFA World Cup in 1966, the game has also been a source of national pride.
King Edward II banned football in London on April 13, 1314, due to the noise and potential for violence caused by the game. Despite the threat of imprisonment, the game continued to be played with enthusiasm.
King Edward II was unpopular and eventually forced to abdicate his throne to his son, King Edward III, in 1327. King Edward III passed even stricter laws banning football in 1331. This was almost the end of the history of English football.
During the 100 Years’ War with France, which lasted from 1338 to 1453, English royalty saw football as a waste of time and a hindrance to the practice of archery, which was considered important for defense. King Edward III and subsequent kings, including Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V, passed laws prohibiting football.
In 1363, King Edward III issued a proclamation banning all sports except archery and ordering that all able-bodied men practice archery on holidays. The proclamation also banned handball, football, hockey, coursing, cockfighting, and other “unseemly” sports.
Source Of The Name
Football, known at the time as “ball play” or “playing at ball,” was seen as a game for the common people and had nothing to do with the aristocracy.
The term “football” was first used in England in the 15th century, but it referred to the fact that the game was played “on foot,” rather than the ball being kicked with the foot.
This was in contrast to sports approved by royalty, which were all played on horseback. In the 15th century, several Scottish kings, including James I in 1424, passed decrees banning football, but these bans had little impact on the game’s popularity.
The rough and physical nature of football was a source of entertainment for the public.
During Elizabethan times, football remained popular despite the numerous laws that had been passed to ban it.
One prominent supporter of the game was Richard Mulcaster, headmaster of the Merchant Taylor’s school and St. Paul’s. Mulcaster believed that football had many educational benefits and could improve health and strength, and he argued that the game just needed to be better organized with a limited number of players and a referee.
In his publication of 1581, Mulcaster wrote about the benefits of football and argued that if the game was played with rules and oversight, it could be a healthy activity. He is often referred to as “the greatest sixteenth century advocate of football.”
Richard Mulcaster was an important advocate upon reflection in the history of English football.
References to football became more common in England in the 17th century, and even William Shakespeare mentioned the game in his writings.
In King Lear, a character is called a “base football player,” and in Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare writes about being treated like a football and kicked around. Despite numerous attempts by English kings to ban the game, it continued to be popular among the common people, and even the nobility and clergy began to play.
In 1633, the Church of England formally approved the playing of football. The only successful ban on football occurred during the time of Oliver Cromwell and the Restoration, when Sunday football was prohibited for over 30 years.
In the 1700s, football was played by two teams of equal numbers who lined up between two goals that were 80-100 yards apart, and the object was to drive a ball made of a blown bladder and leather through the opponent’s goal. Rules surrounding the game were beginning to develop.
The History Of English Football Conclusion
In conclusion, the history of English football is long and fascinating, spans centuries, and has evolved significantly over time. From its humble beginnings in the 8th century, football has become a global phenomenon, with millions of players and fans worldwide.
English football has faced many challenges and undergone numerous changes throughout its history, but it has always remained a popular and beloved pastime.
From the rough-and-tumble mob football played in the streets and fields of medieval England to the organized and regulated sport we know today, English football has a rich and storied tradition that continues to inspire and captivate fans around the globe.
Rhett is an Australian-born, globe trotter who is a UEFA ‘A’ Licence Soccer Coach. With his family, he has traveled and coached soccer in more than 30 countries, while attending World Cups, European Championships, and some of the biggest local derbies in the world!