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1907 illustration of Parker's Piece, where the Cambridge Rules are reported to have been played.

The Cambridge Rules are several formulations of the rules of football made at the University of Cambridge during the nineteenth century. One of these codes, dating from 1863, had a significant influence on the creation of the original laws of the game of the Football Association.

Contents

ContextEdit

The playing of football had long been popular in Cambridge. In 1579 one match played at Chesterton between townspeople and Cambridge University students ended in a violent brawl that led the Vice-Chancellor to issue a decree forbidding them to play "footeball" outside of college grounds.[1]

Despite this and other decrees, football continued to be popular in Cambridge. George Elwes Corrie, Master of Jesus College, observed in 1838, "In walking with Willis we passed by Parker's Piece and there saw some forty Gownsmen playing at football. The novelty and liveliness of the scene were amusing!"[2] On the other hand, a former Rugby School pupil, Albert Pell, who attended Trinity College from 1839 to 1841, claimed that "football was unknown" when he arrived at Cambridge, but that he and his companions "established football at Cambridge", using the Rugby rules.[3]

During the early nineteenth century, each school tended to use its own rules of football. These school codes began to be written down in the 1840s, beginning with Rugby School in 1845.[4] When the alumni of different schools wished to play each other, it was necessary to draw up a compromise set of rules drawing features from the various codes.[5]

Early sets of rulesEdit

1838-1842Edit

Edgar Montagu, an old-boy of Shrewsbury School who attended Cambridge from 1838 to 1842, wrote in an 1897 letter: "I and six other representatives of the School made a Club, and drew up rules that should equalise the different game. [...] It was then we had two matches on Parker’s Piece".[6] In another 1899 letter, he wrote: "I was one of seven who drew up the rules for football, when we made the first football club, to be fair to all the schools."[7] The rules have not survived.[6] On the basis of these letters, Curry and Dunning suggest that "the first Cambridge University Football Rules should, at present, be dated tentatively as having been constructed in 1838".[6]

1846Edit

According to N. L. Jackson, in 1846 "two old Shrewsbury boys, Messrs. H. de Winton and J. C. Thring, persuaded some Old Etonians to join them and formed a club. Matches were few and far between, but some were played on Parker's Piece. Unfortunately, the game was not popular at the 'Varsity then, and the club did not last long".[8] Thring wrote in 1861:[9] "[I]n 1846, when an attempt was made to introduce a common game, and form a really respectable club, at Cambridge, the Rugby game was found to be the great obstacle to the combination of Eton, Winchester, and Shrewsbury men in forming a football club". No rules from this attempt at codification have survived.[10]

Cambridge Rules of 1848Edit

Henry C. Malden attended Trinity College between 1847 and 1851. The following passage is an extract from a January 1898 article by C. W. Alcock, describing a letter he had recently received from Malden:[11]

Before me, as I write, is a letter from Mr Henry C. Malden, of Copse Edge, Godalming, which gives an interesting account of the early efforts to acclimatise football at one of the universities. "Fifty years ago to-day," writes Mr Malden, under date of October 8, 1897, "I went up to Trinity College, Cambridge. In the following year an attempt was made to get up some football, in preference to the hockey then in vogue. But the result was dire confusion, as every man played the rules he had been accustomed to at his public school. I remember how the Eton men howled at the Rugby for handling the ball. So it was agreed that two men should be chosen to represent each of the public schools, and two, who were not public school men, for the 'Varsity. G. Salt[12] and myself were chosen for the 'Varsity. I wish I could remember the others. Burn,[13] of Rugby, was one; Whymper,[14] of Eton, I think, also. We were fourteen in all, I believe. Harrow, Eton, Rugby, Winchester, and Shrewsbury were represented. We met in my rooms after Hall, which in those days was at 4.pm; anticipating a long meeting I cleared the tables and provided pens, ink, and paper. Several asked me on coming in whether an exam. was on! Every man brought a copy of his school rules, or knew them by heart, and our progress in framing new rules was slow. On several occasions Salt and I, being unprejudiced, carried or struck out a rule when the voting was equal. We broke up five minutes before midnight. The new rules were printed as the 'Cambridge Rules,' copies were distributed and pasted up on Parker's Piece, and very satisfactorily they worked, for it is right to add that they were loyally kept, and I never heard of any public school man who gave up playing from not liking the rules [...] "

Significance of the 1848 rulesEdit

Though the 1848 rules described in Malden's letter have not survived,[15][16][17] they have attracted significant interest from many writers, beginning with Malden and Alcock themselves. Malden's letter continued by making the following statements about the 1848 rules:[11]

Well, sir, years afterwards some one took those rules, still in force at Cambridge, and with very few alterations they became the Association Rules. A fair catch, free kick (as still played at Harrow) was struck out. The off-side rule was made less stringent. 'Hands' was made more so; this has just been wisely altered.

Alcock commented that "Mr. Malden's account of the original movement in favour of a uniform code of football is of the greatest interest, from the fact that none has previously seen the light. [...] In any case, it certainly establishes the existence of a unified code fifty years ago".[11]

N. L. Jackson wrote in 1899 that the rules described in Malden's letter "establish[ed] that the Association Game owes its origin to Cambridge University".[8]

1851-1854Edit

Another reference to compromise rules appears in the published memoirs of W. C. Green, who attended King's College Cambridge between 1851 and 1854:[18][19]

There was a Football Club, whose games were played on the Piece, according to rules more like the Eton Field rules than any other. But Rugby and Harrow players would sometimes begin running with the ball in hand or claiming free kicks, which led to some protest and confusion. A Trinity man, Beamont[20] (a Fellow of his College soon after), was a regular attendant, and the rules were revised by him and one or two others, with some concessions to non-Etonians. Few from King's College ever played at this University game: about the end of my time there began to be other special Rugby games on another ground.

Cambridge Rules of 1856Edit

In 1856, there was another attempt to draw up common rules. Frederic G. Sykes, who attended St John's College between 1853 and 1857,[21] wrote in a 1897 letter to a magazine for St John's College alumni:[22]

The Laws were drawn up in the Michaelmas Term of 1856, I believe. The meeting took place in W. H. Stone's rooms in Trinity College. Up to that time University Football consisted in a sort of general melée on Parker's Piece, from 1.30 to 3.30 p.m. [...] There were no rules. [...] When we met in sufficient numbers we chose two sides, and stragglers adopted the weaker side, or did as requested. The hand was freely used, everyone adopting his own view, until a crisis was reached in 1856, resulting in the drawing up of these rules. I never heard of an accident, and though the game was played vigorously, there was no violence, the ball being the objective, not the persons of the players. [...] Do you think, (as I do) that the enclosed Laws may be regarded as the nucleus of the Association game? At that time football was played only in Schools and at the Universities, so that it did not then generally exist. There were no laws at Cambridge, whatever Oxford had. Different schools had their own rules, which had never been subjected to amalgamation. Each had its own. The enclosed rules seem to be the first attempt at combination, and from this point of view perhaps they led up to the Association rules.

This letter describes games with "no rules", implying that the players were not making use of the earlier 1848 laws. Sykes also states that, despite taking part in the creation of the 1856 rules, he was unaware of the existence of any earlier compromise rules at Cambridge. Curry and Dunning suggest that "[t]he regularity with which new rules were issued at [Cambridge] indicates a probable lack of effectiveness in the 'laws'".[23]

A copy of the 1856 Cambridge Rules survives at Shrewsbury School:[24][25] another copy, dated from 1857, was included by Sykes with his letter.[22] The rules bear the signatures of ten footballers: two each from Eton, Rugby, Harrow, Shrewsbury, and the University of Cambridge. The rules allow the ball to be caught or stopped with the hand, but no other form of handling the ball is allowed. Holding, pushing, and tripping are all forbidden. The offside rule requires four opponents to be between a player and opponents' goal. A goal can be scored by kicking the ball "through the flag posts and under the string".[22]

Cambridge Rules of 1863Edit

In November 1863, a new set of rules was drawn up by a committee of nine players representing Shrewsbury, Eton, Rugby, Marlborough, Harrow, and Westminster schools. Unlike the earlier rules, this set was published in the newspapers, with an introduction stating:[26]

It having been thought desirable to establish a general game for the University of Cambridge, the accompanying rules have been drawn up for that purpose. The first game will be played on Friday, Nov 20, at 2:15 p.m. on Parker's Piece. All members of the University who take an interest in the game, and are desirous of attending, can do so on payment of a subscription of one shilling per term.

Like the earlier 1856 laws, the 1863 rules disallowed rugby-style running with the ball and hacking. Nevertheless, there were several differences between the two codes:[27]

  • The 1856 laws had a "string" below which the ball had to go to score a goal, while the 1863 laws permitted a goal to be scored at any height.
  • The 1856 laws permitted players to catch the ball, while the 1863 laws forbade this.
  • The 1856 laws permitted a player to be onside when there were four opponents between him and the opponents' goal-line, while the 1863 laws had a strict offside law whereby any player ahead of the ball was out of play.
  • The 1856 laws had a throw-in when the ball went out of play over the side lines, while the 1863 laws had a kick-in.

There was little textual similarity between the two sets of laws: in general the 1863 laws were longer and more detailed, but the 1856 rules nevertheless dealt with some aspects of the game (for example, the stipulation that "[e]very match shall be decided by a majority of goals") unaddressed by the later code.

Influence on the Football Association lawsEdit

The publication of the 1863 Cambridge rules happened to coincide with the debates within the newly-formed Football Association (FA) over its own first set of laws. The first draft of proposed FA laws drawn up by its secretary Ebenezer Morley allowed rugby-style "hacking" and running with the ball.[28] This draft was introduced by Morley and considered by the FA at meetings on 10 and 17 November 1863. A meeting on 24 November had been scheduled in order to "settle the laws of the [Football] association".[29] The Cambridge Rules appeared in the sporting newspapers on 21 November, three days before the FA meeting.[26]

The records of the crucial 24 November FA meeting note the following:[29]

Mr MORLEY, hon. secretary, said that he had endeavoured as faithfully as he could to draw up the laws according to the suggestions made, but he wished to call the attention of the meeting to other matters that had taken place. The Cambridge University Football Club, probably stimulated by the Football Association, had formed some laws in which gentlemen of note from six of the public schools had taken part. Those rules, so approved, were entitled to the greatest consideration and respect at the hands of the association, and they ought not to pass them over without giving them all the weight that the feeling of six of the public schools entitled them to.

This led to a proposal that the FA should form a committee to communicate with Cambridge on the subject. While it is not clear that any such communication took place, it did result in a delay to the final approval of the FA rules.[30][31] At its next meeting, on 1 December, the FA voted to forbid hacking and running with the ball, which were thus banned in the final published version of the FA's 1863 rules.[31] As the newspaper report of a later meeting put it, 'the appearance of some rules recently adopted at Cambridge seemed to give tacit support to the advocates of "non-hacking".'[32] Jonathan Wilson has summarized the significance of this decision thus:

[C]arrying the ball was outlawed, and [association] football and rugby went their separate ways.[33]

Morley went so far as to propose making the FA's laws "nearly identical with the Cambridge rules". While this suggestion was vetoed by FA president Arthur Pember,[31] the FA did adopt the Cambridge offside law almost verbatim, replacing the quite different wording in the earlier draft.[34]

Subsequent developmentsEdit

Cambridge University Football Club continued to play according to its own rules. In March 1867, it summoned a meeting of "representatives of public schools and college football clubs" at which it was hoped that "Oxford would agree with Cambridge in adopting a common set of rules", with the intention that these rules "would in time become widely adopted throughout the country".[35] Curry and Dunning suggest that Cambridge's decision to revise its own set of rules, rather than using those of the FA, reflects "the relative weakness of the FA at that time".[36]. The resulting set of rules included a "touch down", somewhat similar to today's "try" in rugby: a team who touched the ball down behind the opponent's goal-line were entitled to take a free kick at goal, with the number of unconverted "touch downs" being used as a tie-breaker if both teams scored the same number of goals.[37]

In 1869, the Cambridge club wrote to the FA suggesting a match between the two bodies, but insisted on playing its own rules, a condition to which the FA would not agree.[38]

Cambridge University Football Club would eventually join the FA in 1873.[39] The club played under FA rules when it took part in the third edition of the FA Cup, in the 1873-4 season.[40]

PlaqueEdit

In 2000, a plaque was erected in Parker's Piece by a football team consisting of homeless people. It bears the following inscription:[41]

Here on Parker's Piece, in the 1800s, students established a common set of simple football rules emphasising skill above force, which forbade catching the ball and 'hacking'. These 'Cambridge Rules' became the defining influence on the 1863 Football Association rules.

MonumentEdit

In May 2018, a monument titled "Cambridge Rules 1848" was installed on Parker's Piece. The monument consists of four stone pillars engraved with the 1856 Cambridge Rules translated into several languages.[42][43]

SummaryEdit

Laws of football reportedly created at Cambridge up to 1863[44]
Date Survives
today?
Published
contemporaneously?
Public school(s)
involved
Cambridge college(s)
involved
Source(s)
c. 1838 - 1842 No No Shrewsbury Gonville and Caius Edgar Montagu (letters of 1897 and 1899)
1846 No No Eton
Shrewsbury
Rugby
Winchester
St John's
Trinity
J. C. Thring (article of 1861)
N. L. Jackson (1899)[45]
1848 No No Eton
Harrow
Rugby
Shrewsbury
Winchester
Trinity[46] H. C. Malden (letter of 1897)
c. 1851 - 1854 No No Eton
"Non-Etonians"
Trinity W. C. Green (published memoir of 1905)
1856 Yes No Eton
Harrow
Rugby
Shrewsbury
Clare
Jesus
Peterhouse
St John's
Trinity
Copy preserved in Shrewsbury library (c. 1856)
F. G. Sykes (published letter of 1897)
1863 Yes Yes Eton
Harrow
Rugby
Shrewsbury
Marlborough
Westminster
Gonville and Caius
Trinity
Published contemporaneously in newspapers (1863)

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ History on Cambridgeshirefa.com (Archive, 8 Jul 2011)
  2. ^ "History of Football in Cambridge". Cambridge University Association Football Club. Archived from the original on 27 October 2006.
  3. ^ Mackay, Thomas, ed. (1908). The Reminiscences of Albert Pell. London: John Murray. pp. 70–71.
  4. ^ Laws of Football as played at Rugby School (1845)  – via Wikisource.
  5. ^ Curry and Dunning (2015), pp. 63-64
  6. ^ a b c Curry and Dunning (2015), p. 64
  7. ^ Oldham, J. Basil (1952). A History of Shrewsbury School 1552-1952. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 232.
  8. ^ a b Jackson, N. L. (1900) [1899]. Association Football. London: Newnes. p. 26..
  9. ^ "J.C.T." (28 December 1861). "Football, Simple and Universal". The Field: 578.
  10. ^ Curry and Dunning, p. 66
  11. ^ a b c Alcock, C. W. (8 January 1898). "Association Football: No. 1 -- Its Origin". The Sportsman. London (8851): 3.
  12. ^ George Salt (d. 1882); attended Trinity College between 1846 and 1850
  13. ^ George Burn (d. 1880); attended Trinity College between 1847 and 1851
  14. ^ Frederick Hayes Whymper (d. 1893); attended Trinity College between 1847 and 1851
  15. ^ Curry and Dunning (2015), p. 69: "The 1848 regulations, though we cannot be sure as no copy survives, may have been generally satisfactory for the players who reflected the balance of power among Cambridge undergraduates at that time"
  16. ^ n.a. [Geoffrey Green] (1953). History of the Football Association. London: Naldrett Press. p. 16. The tragedy, from the point of view of research, is that no copies exist of either the 1846 or 1848 rules, but from the following copy of the University Rules of circ 1856 a comparison can be made [followed by a list of the 1856 rules]
  17. ^ Even though no copy of the 1848 rules has survived, some sources describe the 1856 laws (see below) as the "Cambridge Rules of 1848". These include
    • The website for the Parker's Piece Public Art Commission ("Cambridge Rules 1848: About Cambridge Rules". Retrieved 1 April 2019.)
    • The monument installed on Parker's Piece in 2018 (see "Monument" section below)
    • Orejan, Jaime (2011). Football/Soccer: History and Tactics. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. p. 22.
  18. ^ Green, W. C. (1905). Memories of Eton and King's. Eton: Spottiswode. pp. 77–78.
  19. ^ Curry and Dunning (2015), pp. 67-68
  20. ^ William John Beamont (d. 1868); attended Eton, then Trinity College between 1846 and 1850. Subsequently served as a fellow of Trinity from 1852 until his death.
  21. ^ "Cambridge Alumni Database".
  22. ^ a b c "[Correspondence]". The Eagle: a Magazine supported by Members of St. John's College. Cambridge: E Johnson. xix (cxiii): 586–588. June 1897.
  23. ^ Curry and Dunning (2015), p. 26
  24. ^ Curry and Dunning (2015), p. 73
  25. ^ "Laws of the University Foot Ball Club" (PDF). Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  26. ^ a b "Cambridge University". Bell's Life in London. 21 November 1863. p. 9.
  27. ^ Cambridge Rules (1863)  – via Wikisource.
  28. ^ Laws of the Game (1863) (draft)  – via Wikisource.
  29. ^ a b "The Football Association". Bell's Life in London. 28 November 1863. p. 6.
  30. ^ "The Football Association". Bell's Life in London. 28 November 1863. p. 6. The PRESIDENT pointed out that the vote just passed to all intents and purposes annulled the business of the evening, whereupon Mr. ALCOCK said it was too late to proceed further, and moved that the meeting do adjourn till Tuesday next, Dec. 1, and it was so resolved.
  31. ^ a b c "The Football Association". Supplement to Bell's Life in London. 5 December 1863. p. 1.
  32. ^ "The Football Association". Bell's Life in London. 12 December 1863. p. 3.
  33. ^ Wilson, Jonathan (2009) [2008]. Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics (paperback ed.). London: Orion. pp. 11–12. ISBN 978-1-4091-0204-5.
  34. ^ "The Football Association". Supplement to Bell's Life in London. 5 December 1863. p. 1. The PRESIDENT called Mr Campbell's attention to the fact that, so far from ignoring the Cambridge rules, they had adopted their No. 6
  35. ^ "Cambridge University Football Club". Cambridge Chronicle and University Journal (5442): 5. 23 March 1867.
  36. ^ Curry and Dunning (2015), p. 76
  37. ^ Curry and Dunning (2015), p. 76
  38. ^ FA minute book for January 12 1869, reported in Brown, Tony (2011). The Football Association 1863-1883: A Source Book. Nottingham: Soccerdata. p. 45. ISBN 9781905891528.
  39. ^ Allcock's Football Annual, 1873, reported in Brown, Tony (2011). The Football Association 1863-1883: A Source Book. Nottingham: Soccerdata. p. 69. ISBN 9781905891528.
  40. ^ "Cambridge University v. South Norwood". Morning Post (31614). 27 October 1873. p. 3.
  41. ^ "Cambridge bids for FA football rules recognition". BBC News. 16 January 2013. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  42. ^ Cox, Tara (12 May 2018). "The Parker's Piece football monument has been unveiled - and people aren't happy". Cambridge News.
  43. ^ Harisha, Yasmin (14 May 2018). "Monument celebrating 170 years of football blasted by critics who say 'it's f****** hideous'". The Mirror.
  44. ^ See Curry and Dunning (2015), p. 78
  45. ^ It is not clear from the sources whether this attempt to create a code of rules was successful
  46. ^ All four persons whom Malden was able to remember attended Trinity College; it is possible that some of the ten he was not able to remember attended other colleges

ReferencesEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Green, Geoffrey (1953). The History of the Football Association. Naldrett Press, London.