Forerunners of football
© Alex Morton
Kicking a ball with the feet has been going on for 1000's of years, but the creation of football as we understand it today has it roots in Britain, and in particular the true development of football came in Medieval Britain..
Games were in fact held between neighbouring towns and villages with no limit on the number of players and practically no rule book, but matches often resulted in major disputes and riots. Indeed, so violent was medieval football that the Lord Mayor of London actually banned the sport in 1314, claiming 'there is great noise in the city caused by hustling over large footballs in the fields of the public'..
Between 1314 and 1667, there were more than 30 royal and local laws attempting to ban football. However, by the end of the 14th century, the term 'football' was well established in England, with Chaucer even referencing it in his Canterbury Tales.
The first signs of football developing from its medieval roots came with the publication of the Francis Willoughby's 'Book of Sports' around 1660. Willoughby described the game of 'football', identifying the pitch, two ends with gates known as 'goals', basic positioning and the objective as scoring the first goal. However, it was not until almost two centuries later that the formation of the modern game took place.
The decisive moment was October 26th 1863 when a meeting took place with all clubs in existence in England (at the Freemason's Tavern in London's Great Queen Street), and then the Football Association was founded. Shortly afterwards, the official code of practice was drawn up and several football clubs were founded.
The rise of club football made international football an obvious idea and, the first international match was played between England and Scotland in Partick in November 1872, ending in a disappointing 0-0.
The popularity of football on the continent was well established by the 19th century and European and worldwide developments were heavily influenced by England. For example, the first recorded game outside of Europe took place in Argentina in 1867 and involved English workers in the country.
It is for reasons like these that football can arguably be considered the greatest export in Britain's long history. Britain has had an incredible influence on the development of modern football; laying down the original regulations, establishing the basic competitions and spreading the game quite literally worldwide. It is this foundation which the beautiful game as we know it today has been built upon, and has led to the development of the most watched league in the world - the Barclays Premier League.
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