Monday, September 28, 2009

William Shakespeare

References to the game of football became more and more widespread in England at the time. Even the great William Shakespeare referred to football in his writings. In King Lear (Act I, Scene IV) Kent taunts Oswald by calling him a ‘base football player’. In Comedy of Errors (1592, Act II) Shakespeare writes:

Am I so round with you as you with me, that like a football you do spurn me thus? You spurn me hence, and he will spurn me hither if I last in this service you must case me in leather.

By the 17th Century the Kings of England were still trying to rid the land of football. James I outlawed the game from his royal court because it was, ‘meeter for lameing than making able the user thereof’ i.e. the game ended with too many injuries!

However the significant factor is that the nobility within the royal court now appreciated and enjoyed football. Even clerics of the church started to play.

Eventually with the bans having no effect on the football playing public James I reversed his decision to ban football. In 1633, the Church of England followed suit and issued formal approval to play football.

The only successful banning of football took place during the time of Oliver Cromwell and the Restoration (1660). Even though Oliver Cromwell was a keen footballer in his youth, his ban on Sunday football remained in force for over thirty years.

In 1801 the Author Joseph Strutt published ‘The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England’ which gave an insight into football in the 1700’s. He described two teams of equal numbers who lined up between two goals that were 80-100 yards apart. The goals themselves were two sticks in the ground that were approximately a yard apart. Strut also added: “The ball, which is commonly made up of a blown bladder and cased in leather, is delivered in the midst of the ground, and the object of each party is to drive it through the goal of their antagonists, which being achieved, the game is won.”
So it seemed as if a set of rules surrounding the game was beginning to develop.

The game of football generally muddled along until dramatic changes took place later in the 19th Century.

Richard Mulcaster

During Elizabethan times the game still maintained a huge level of support and participation despite the numerous laws passed to ban the game.

In fact football found one very prominent supporter in Richard Mulcaster, headmaster of the famous Merchant Taylor’s school and St. Paul’s.

He publicly declared that football had many educational benefits as well as improving health and strength. In his view the game just needed a little reorganisation such as a limited number of players and a referee

In his personal publication of 1581, ‘Positions Wherein Those Primitive Circumstances Be Examined, Which Are Necessarie for the Training up of Children’, Richard Mulcaster wrote of the many benefits of football…

(The handball, the footeball, the armeball.)

…the Footeball play, which could not possibly have growne to this greatnes, that it is now at, nor have bene so much used, as it is in all places, if it had not had great helpes, both to health and strength, and to me the abuse of it is a sufficient argument, that it hath a right use: which being revoked to his primative will both helpe, strength, and comfort nature: though as it is now commonly used, with thronging of a rude multitude, with bursting of shinnes, & breaking of legges. it be neither civil, neither worthy the name of any traine to health. Wherin any man may evidently see the use of the trayning maister. For if one stand by, which can judge of the play, and is judge over the parties, & hath authoritie to commande in the place, all those inconveniences have bene, I know, & wilbe I am sure very lightly redressed, nay they will never entermedle in the matter, neither shall there be complaint, where ther is no cause.

Another quote attributed to the great headmaster reads as follows: “the foteball strengtheneth and brawneth the whole body. It helpeth weake hammes by much moving and simple shanks by thickening of the flesh no less than riding doth.”

Football historians have referred to Richard Mulcaster as “the greatest sixteenth Century advocate of football” which can be considered quite fair in a time when playing football could lead to imprisonment.

The Puritans

During the 16th Century there were further attempts to contain the spread of football. The Puritan movement during the reign of Elizabeth I (1533-1608) took up the cause against football. They believed that ‘frivolous amusements’ were time wasting exercises and inherently evil.

One Puritan leader, Philip Stubbes wrote extensively about such evils. He constantly criticized the theatre and acting in general. Comments he made regarding acting are still too obscene to print here!

His other favourite subject was football. One particular issue was that football was played on Sundays – the Sabbath and day of rest. In his book ‘The Anatomie of Abuses’ (1583) he severely attacked both these areas of entertainment.
Below is the text of his tirade against football:

As concerning football playing, I protest unto you that it might rather be called a friendly kinde of fight than a play or a recreation; a bloody and murthering practise, than a felowly sporte or pastime. For dooth not every one lye in waight for his adversarie, seeking to overthrowe him, and to picke [pitch] him on his nose, though it be upon hard stones? In ditch or dale, in valley or hil, or what place soever it be, hee careth not, so he can have him down. And he that can serve the most of this fashion, he is counted the only fellow; and who but he? So that by this means, sometimes their necks are broken, sometimes their backs, sometime their legs, sometime their armes; sometime one part thrust out of joynt, sometime another; sometime the noses gush out with blood, sometime their eyes start out, and sometimes hurt in one place, sometimes in another. But whosoever scapeth away the best, goeth not scot free, but is either sore wounded, craised, and bruseed, so as he dyeth of it, or else scapeth very hardly. And no mervaile, for they have the sleights to meet one betwixt two, to dashe him against the hart with their elbowes, to hit him under the short ribbes with their griped fists and with their knees to catch him upon the hip, and to pick him on his neck, with a hundred such murdering devices; and hereof groweth envy, malice, rancour, choler, hatred, displeasure, enmite, and what not els: and sometimes fighting, brawling, contention, quarrel-picking, murther, homicide, and great effusion of blood, as experience daly teacheth.

Is this murthering play, now, an exercise for the Sabath day? is this a Christian dealing, for one brother to mayme and hurt another, and that upon prepensed malice or set purpose? is this to do to another as we would wish another to doo to us? God make us more careful over the bodyes of our brethren! ‘Philip Stubbes 1583’

Football Banned!!

Although the game was gaining popularity amongst commoners, it was still largely disliked by the aristocracy and royalty. In fact on 13th April 1314 King Edward II actually banned football from London where street matches had become incredibly popular.

King Edward himself proclaimed,

"For as much as there is great noise in the city, caused by hustling over large balls from which many evils might arise which God forbid, we command and forbid, on behalf of the king, a pain of imprisonment, such game to be used in the city in the future."

The threat of imprisonment for playing football actually made no difference whatsoever; the game continued to be played with much vigour. However King Edward II was commonly regarded as an incompetent king particularly due to the defeat of the English Army by the Scots in the Battle of Barnockborn. This ultimately led to parliament forcing the king to give up his throne to his son in 1327.

King Edward III proved no more of a football fan than his father and passed tough new laws in 1331 banning football further. During the 100 years war with France, which began in 1338 and lasted until 1453 the royal court of England found football most distasteful. Edward III, followed by Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V all passed further laws barring football from the realm. One of the main reasons for this hard line taken was the very real fear that the English population were spending far too much time playing football. This prevented them from practicing archery, a key area of defence during the 100 years war. Edward III passed the following proclamation in 1363 banning all sports and enforcing archery practice.

The King to the Lord-lieutenant of Kent greeting:

Whereas the people of our realm, rich and poor alike, were accustomed formerly in their games to practise archery - whence by God's help, it is well known that high honour and profit came to our realm, and no small advantage to ourselves in our warlike enterprises - and that now skill in the use of the bow having fallen almost wholly into disrepute, our subjects give themselves up to the throwing of stones and of wood and of iron; and some to handball and football and hockey; and others to coursing and cock-fights, and even to other unseemly sports less useful and manly; whereby our realm - which God forbid - will soon, it would appear, be void of archers:

We, wishing that a fitting remedy be found in this matter, do hereby ordain, that in all places in your country, liberties or no liberties, wheresoever you shall deem fit, a proclamation be made to this effect: that every man in the same country, if he be able-bodied, shall, upon holidays, make use, in his games, of bows and arrows… and so learn and practise archery.

Moreover we ordain that you prohibit under penalty of imprisonment all and sundry from such stone, wood and iron throwing; handball, football, or hockey; coursing and cock-fighting, or other such idle games.

'Edward the Third 1363'

With the exception of the war it is quite simple to see why royalty disliked football so much. It had originated from the commoners; it was a game of the people and had absolutely nothing to do with the aristocracy at the time. After all the game didn't even have an official name; it was referred to as 'ball play' or 'playing at ball'.

The term football was used in England for the first time in the 15th Century. However it did not imply that the ball was kicked with the foot, rather that the game was played 'on foot'. This was not in keeping with royalty-approved sports which all involved riding on horseback.

During the course of the 15th Century most of the Scottish Kings saw fit to ban football. The most famous was the decree passed by parliament and convened by James I in 1424, "That na man play at the Fute-ball." Again, this had no effect on the popularity of the game as the public took great delight in the rough and tumble of the game.

History of English Football (8th - 18th century)

The game of football generally flourished in England from around the 8th Century onwards. The game was incredibly popular with the working classes and there were considerable regional variations of the game throughout the country. Games were normally violent and disorganised affairs with any number of players - it was not uncommon for 1000 people to play in a single game. By the 11th Century, games were often played between rival villages and the 'pitch' could be an incredibly large area. The 'pitch' was not a defined size with a parameter, but included streets, fields, village squares and anything else that got in the way!

The level of violence within the game was astonishing. Players were kicked and punched regularly by opponents. In addition to any personal injury that occurred, countless property items were destroyed in the course of a match. Fields were often ruined, as were fences and hedges. Damage also occurred to people's houses and businesses within the main streets of the village (or wherever the game travelled in its course).

For people living within the cities, football was still an alien concept and considered to be a 'rural custom'. However in the second half of the 12th Century football had established itself in London. By 1175 an annual competition had been established in the capital and every Shrove Tuesday the game created huge interest and gained further popularity.

The future development of the urban game is not well known but some early records do mention the violent nature of the game within cities - there is even a mention of a player being stabbed to death by an opponent! Records also point to women being involved in the game during the 12th Century.

The French and Choule or Soule

The Romans introduced Harpastum into France around 50 BCE. The French took the game and developed their own version called ‘Choule’ or ‘Soule’. Apparently the nobility called the game ‘La Soule’ and ordinary people called it ‘La Choule’. Earliest reports of the game date back to the 12th century.

The game was played on Sundays until sunset and the pitch varied in length. It could be the length of two streets or the distance between two towns. The game began when the ball was thrown high into the air to represent the sun (La Soule roughly translates to sun).

The aim of the game was to take the ball the length of the field and score a goal. The goal could literally be anything – a tree, a wall or even a stream.

The ball was quite heavy and made with a stitched leather skin. It was stuffed with more leather and bran.

Soule or Choule was often competed between two entire villages with hundreds of people playing the game together. It was a violent game and biting, scratching and punching were quite commonplace.

Due to the violent nature of the game King Felipe V banned it in 1319. King Carlos V again prohibited the game in 1388, although this really did not stop the game being played in France at all.

The Italians and Calcio

The history of Calcio officially stretches back to the 16th Century. However the roots of Calcio can be found in the Roman game of Harpastum.

The most famous game of Calcio took place on 17th February 1530 in Piazza Santa Croce in Florence. At the time the entire city of Florence was under siege from the Medici.

Even though the siege was taking its toll, the people of Florence were determined to go ahead with the game in order to maintain the tradition of playing during the February carnival and to show contempt to the invading army.Musicians even played on the rooftops to enliven the game.

The result of the game was not recorded, maybe because the game was really about the city of Florence showing unity in the face of the Medici.

The game of Calcio itself was similar to rugby and a lot more violent than the game played today. Young men of exceptional strength, notably the aristocrats, played it on special occasions.
The game itself involved teams of 27 players who could use both their feet and hands to play the ball. Matches were generally played in the piazzas (city squares) of major cities. Goals were scored by throwing the ball over a designated spot at the opposing end of the field of play. The key rule in Calcio is that the ball is kept moving. If the ball stops, play is paused and resumed.

Calcio was an incredibly popular game in Italy and its influence even stretched to the Vatican where popes such as Pope Clement VII, Leo IX and Urban VIII were known to play occasionally.

In 1580 a gentleman called Giovanni Bardi published the first set of rules regarding Calcio, approximately three hundred years before the rules of association football were recorded.

Calcio is no longer played in Italy with the exception of the June festival in Florence, when exhibition matches are held.
However the name of Calcio lingers on as the Italian football league still uses the name in its official title.

The Aztecs and Tlachtli

Tlatchi was a game played by the Aztecs and some individuals have claimed that it is over 3000 years old. We cannot verify this but it is quite possible that the game was being played around 500 BCE. This would make it older than the Chinese game of Tsu Chu. However Tlachtli was more a mix of basketball, volleyball and football rather than just a forerunner of football. One key rule was that players could not use their hands, although they could use their heads, elbows, legs or hips(?).

The ruins of almost every ancient city include a walled court for the sacred game of Tlachtli. The courts were often close to temples, reinforcing the spiritual nature of the game. Tlatchi has been described as a spectator sport, an astrological study and a political engagement all at the same time.

The sense of astrology comes from the fact that the Aztecs and particularly the priests felt that the movement of the rubber ball during the game symbolised the future path of the sun.

Great prominence was given to the mystic similarities between ball and sun.Only the ruling elite were allowed to watch the game and gambling on the outcome of the game was very popular. Money, clothes and even slaves were bet on games.

Tlachtli was played in a sunken stone walled court surrounded by fans. The court was normally an 'I' or 'H' shape with one stone ring at each end of the court. (The stone rings were similar to basketball hoops and were 8-10 feet off the ground. The actual hole was less than 30 cm wide.

The actual game involved passing the ball from side to side without it touching the ground. If the ball fell to the ground on the other side your team would win a point and vice versa (similar to volleyball.) If you struck the ball with an incorrect part of your body you could lose points for your team.

However the real purpose of the game was to get the ball through the hoop at each end. The team that did this first won, irrespective of the current score of the game.

Players were given kneepads and helmets to protect them from the heavy rubber ball, although this was only a temporary measure as the losers of the game were sacrificed to the gods!

The Eskimos and Aqsaqtuk

No one knows for sure how long the Inuit have been playing their specific style of football called Aqsaqtuk, which literally means soccer on ice. However the game has been mentioned in the myths and legends of the Inuit for hundreds of years. One belief of the Inuit is that the spirits of the dead travel to the northern lights where they play an eternal game of football using the head of a walrus as the ball!!

The game of Aqsaqtuk is played between two teams (of varying numbers) who line up to face each other at kick off. The ball is kicked between the lines until it crosses one line of players….then all the players rush to kick the ball into their opponent's goal.

The length of the pitch can vary dramatically - there is a legend, which tells of a game between two villages that had goals 10 miles apart!!! The football is made of animal hide and whale bones. It is stuffed with hair, moss, feathers and wood shavings.

The two teams were normally named after birds. In most cases it was the ptarmigans (an arctic bird similar to a grouse) versus the long-tails. In summer, the two teams would play a game with the long-tails playing towards the water and the ptarmigans playing towards land, their favoured habitat. The two sides would also engage in song battles, with the players trying to outdo each other and embarrass the other team.
After the game, celebrations would be held in a large communal igloo called qaggi.

The American Indians and Pasuckuakohowog

It's a mouthful isn't it?

Records show The Native American Indians played football or Pasuckaukohowog from approximately 1620. Although it is highly likely that they were actually playing football earlier. The word Pasuckuakohowog actually means '..they gather to play ball with the foot…'.

These games were not very nice and incredibly violent. It was quite often that players would retire with broken bones and other serious injuries. In fact the game was almost a war with up to 500 players on each side.

The players understood the violent nature of the game as they would often disguise themselves with lots of war paint and ornaments to avoid retribution after the game. The game was normally played on a pitch that was often a mile long with goals at either end. The game could last for hours and often carried on from one day to the next.

At the end of the match both sides would meet for a celebratory feast. (Hence the need for a disguise during the game!)

Other Earlier Forms of Football

Every civilization has played some type of ball game, many by kicking the ball in the style of football. These games have been played for varying degrees of time and no one is sure how they all originated.

We have listed some of the more interesting versions for you to learn about:

The Romans and Harpastum

To try and put a date on the introduction of Harpastum is hard but we can consider that the Romans conquered Greece in 146 BCE so it is fair to estimate that the Romans discovered the Greek versions of the games shortly after that date.

Harpastum was still a rugby style game (you could use your hands and feet) and was used by Julius Caesar and his generals as a form of military training to improve the physical fitness of the Roman Army.
Harpastum was known as the Small Ball Game. This is due to the fact that the other ball games played by Romans had much larger balls. The Harpastum ball was made from a stitched leather skin and stuffed with chopped sponges or animal fur. The ball was approximately 8 inches in diameter.

Little is known of the exact rules of the game but we do know that the pitch was rectangular and just a little smaller than an average sized football pitch today. The number of players varied from game to game - some reports suggest games with hundreds of players on each side.

The game bore striking similarities to rugby and the players had to get the ball over the opposing line to 'score'. Harpastum was an incredibly fast and physical game - it was also quite violent and tackling was allowed. Due to the nature of the game, Harpastum was only played on grass or dirt since players were expected to end up on the floor!!!

Due to the might of the Roman Army and their huge expansion plans, Harpastum travelled with their armies to most European countries where it proved quite popular with the local populations in almost all cases. Hence it is the Romans who are responsible for delivering football to other countries and territories around the world. In particular to Britain where the game developed into the game it is now.

The Greeks and their Games

Very little is known about Greek ball games and their influence on modern-day football. It is claimed that the game of Episkyro was practised in Greece as long ago as 800 BCE.

One of the basic rules was that you were allowed to use your hands, which really suggests that it is a closer relation to rugby than football. However many of the characteristics of the game are similar to football - particularly the dimensions of the pitch and the fact that 12 players formed a team.

Another Greek ball game that many have claimed to be a forerunner of football is the game of Harpastron. Something worth considering is that Harpastron is the Greek word for handball and not football.

Since the Greeks were the greatest intellects of their time, it is very hard to believe that they made such a fundamental error in naming one of their games. Hence we will put Harpastron in with Episkyro as a game more in keeping with rugby than football.

However the greatest contribution made to football by the Greeks was that the Romans took the games of Episkyro and Harpastron and evolved them into a game called Harpastum. They also added the vital ingredient of kicking. The Roman game of Harpastum is considered by many to be a real forerunner to football.

The Japanese and Kemari

Legend has it that slightly later than the Chinese, the Japanese started playing a football game called Kemari. Official records show the game of Kemari may have started a few hundred years later but it is highly likely that some type of game existed earlier.

In fact a recently discovered text states that there was a game between Chinese Tsu Chu players and Japanese Kemari players in approximately 50 CE. Obviously this changes the date of origin dramatically and if true, it is also the first recognised international match!!!!!

The game of Kemari was, and is, for all intense purposes a game of keepy-uppy. It involved a ball, which was made of deerskin and stuffed with sawdust. The ball was about 8 inches in diameter and was kicked between players.

There could be a varying number of players (anywhere from 2 to 12 players) and the game was not competitive but '..a more dignified and ceremonious experience..' requiring great levels of skill.

There was no tackling or vying for the ball as in football nowadays; the ball was simply passed from player to player in the air. The ball was only touched with the feet and when a player got the ball he was allowed to kick the ball in the air as many times as he liked in order to control the ball. Then he would pass the ball to another player.

When a player received the ball and was controlling it, he would shout "ariyaaa" everytime he touched the ball. When the ball was finally kicked to another player the last shout would be "ari!". Hence, you would hear a player shout "ariyaa, ariyaa, ariyaa, ari!" until he got the ball back.

Kemari was played on a pitch (called a kikutsubo) marked out by trees. The aristocrats would grow trees in specific areas in their gardens so as to have a permanent pitch. Others grew trees in pots so that they could mark out the pitch dependent on the number of people playing. The four trees used to mark out the pitch were normally a cherry tree, a maple, a willow and a pine.

Many hundreds of years later Japanese players styled an outfit to wear when playing Kemari and the game was incredibly popular between the 10th and 16th centuries.

Some researchers believe that Marco Polo (1254 - 1324) found Kemari and brought it back to Europe as a forerunner to football. However football was already in Europe at that time so I am afraid we cannot give Marco Polo any credit for the discovery of football.

The Chinese and Tsu Chu

The Chinese are credited with the earliest form of football, commonly recognised as approximately 255 - 206 BCE. However as mentioned previously there are a number of opinions on the dates involved - some go all the way back to 5000 BCE!

The game was called Tsu Chu (sometimes spelt as cuju) and records show mention of this game in military manuals dating back to the Tsin Dynasty (255 - 206 BCE). Tsu Chu was part of the physical education programme used to train soldiers at the time. The game was played extensively during the following period of the Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE).

Tsu Chu literally means football as tsu may be translated to 'kicking the ball with feet' and chu meaning 'a ball made of leather and stuffed'. Quite specific for a term that is over 2000 years old.

The Han Dynasty Emperor Wudi (156-87 BCE) was also a great fan of the game. After conquering Central Asia, he ordered that all good ball players move to the capital so that he could watch them play. Emperor Wudi would spend many a day watching a game of Tsu Chu and quite often he couldn't help but play a few games as well!

References to other forms of Tsu Chu can be found in historical records. Below we have detailed the other versions of the game;

'Five a side style' - Involved a rectangular court with walls and 12 semi-circular holes cut out of the walls. There were the goals, six for each side! Each goal also had a goalkeeper making 12 in total! The game was so hard that the first team to score were the winners!

'Keepy - Uppy' - This was a version where the purpose was just to keep the ball in the air.

'Gladiator- style' - As part of the military training, a player would be attacked by 3-4 other players whilst still trying to keep the ball in the air and score through the hole in the net!!!

During the Tang Dynasty (618-907) a hollow ball filled with air replaced the solid one. At this time kicking the ball became popular with women as well.

Tsu Chu became incredibly popular with both aristocrats and ordinary people alike and remained popular until the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) when it was eventually replaced by Western Football. Recently in China there has been a surge of interest in playing the game of Tsu Chu.

However whilst considered by many to be the earliest forerunner of football, Tsu Chu did not have a direct influence on the game of football as we know it today. So we must look elsewhere for the true origins of the game.

Origins of Football

The Origins of football can be found in every corner of the Globe. Civilizations throughout history all played ball games and many of these can be considered forerunners to the modern game, which was established in England in the late nineteenth century.

Ball games were first played in Egypt as early as 1800 BCE. However there are claims that suggest ball games were played even earlier in Ancient China, maybe as early as 2500 BCE. There is evidence to show that ball games in Egypt were linked to fertility rites and religious ceremonies. These ball games involved large numbers of people and records indicate that these games were sometimes used as an exercise to till the soil.

In addition to the Egyptians; the Greeks, Romans and Chinese (as well as others) all played football games, which are considered to be the forerunners of modern football.

Introduction - History of Football

Ever wondered how football started? Who was the first person to score from the halfway line??
The first to fluff a penalty?? We don't think we can answer those questions but we can certainly tell you
about the history of the beautiful game. Click further to see how it all started....


Site Info


History Of Football Really Copyright © 2009 Community is Designed by Bie