Of course we are all aware that the rules of football change from time to time
and the anaoraks amongst us can probably say when substitutes were first
introduced and who was Lynn’s first substitute. (Peter Tough for Tony Haskins 21
September 1966 v Nuneaton Borough).
But there are other milestones that have happened over the years. For
example the penalty kick was introduced in 1891 but the penalty spot did not
arrive until 1902.
In the intervening years there was the penalty line which ran parallel but
twelve yards away from the goal line. This can be seen clearly on the picture
below and the penalty kick could be taken anywhere along the line.
Posssibly less obvious on the photograph is a second line six yards behind the penalty
line where the remaining players had to stand when the kick was taken. Another
visible feature is the six yard semi-circle in the goalmouth which was also
replaced in 1902. A move which was explained in the Eastern Daily Press of
Monday 8 September 1902:
"Hitherto, the area in which the goalkeeper might not be charged unless he
was holding the ball or obstructing an opponent was bounded by semi-circles
defining six yards from the goalposts. In future these will disappear and
instead of them, lines will be drawn six yards into the field of play, and being
joined together by a line drawn parallel to the goalline.
The space thus bounded off will be known as the ”goal area”. It will be
seen that it is somewhat larger than the space which it replaces, so that the
goalkeeper’s immunity from attack is slightly increased."
Although you may not be able to see it in the photo – the penalty
spot is there, and had been since 1902. However, the eagle eyed might notice
that the pitch marking still isn’t quite the one we know and love today. The
“D”, marking 10 yards from the penalty spot, did not arrive until 1937, prior to
that opposing players could stand anywhere along the 18 yard line while a
penalty was being taken.
Meanwhile another rule in the game of old that we would not recognise
today is the goalkeeper’s ability to handle the ball in his own half. In the
1870s the FA introduced rules that distinguished between goalkeepers and other
players: It was Rule 8 that stated "The goalkeeper may, within his own half of
the field of play, use his hands, but shall not carry the ball."
So we come to Leigh Roose. Lynn’s Chuck Martini might have been a
character but he had nothing on Roose who entertained anyway he could -
including sitting on the crossbar at halftime and holding impromptu "beat the
goalie" competitions after games. Facing a penalty against Manchester City,
Roose faked nerves by wobbling his knees maniacally. Roose saved the shot but
was pelted with objects by Manchester fans when he celebrated.
Roose, who went on to play for Stoke City, Everton, Sunderland, Celtic,
Huddersfield Town, Aston Villa and Arsenal, used the rule about handling the
ball in his own half to the extreme as he began to bounce the ball up to the
half-way line before launching an attack. Although the rule applied to all
’keepers, few followed Roose’s example as they did not have his accuracy and
strength in kicking or throwing which gave him time to get back and defend if
necessary. He was so effective that several clubs complained to the Football
Association about his strategy feeling he was ruining the game as a spectacle by
his ability to break up creative and attacking play.
In June 1912 the Football Association decided to change Law 8 to read:
"The goalkeeper may, within his own penalty area, use his hands, but shall not
carry the ball."
In the early days of football (well not that early as the game was played
as far back as the 12th Century) but, rather, around the mid 19th Century there
was no offside laws but two opposing views. One was that the ball could not be
passed forward - progress towards the opposing goal was made by dribbling or
scrummage and the other which allowed forward passes and had no offside at all.
England’s oldest football club Sheffield FC (formed 1855) had no offside,
players known as "kick throughs" were positioned permanently near the opponents
Cambridge University are thought to have introduced an offside law to
their rules in 1848 although no copy exists, however in 1862 the Cambridge rules
included the offside rule (along with 11 a-side, a match duration of an one hour
and a quarter, an umpire from each side plus a neutral referee and goals 12ft
across and up to 20ft high).
The offside rule decreed that a man could play a ball passed to him from
behind, so long as there were three opponents between him and the goal.
In 1863 the FA, trying to consolidate the different sets of rules, began
with the "no forward pass law".
"When a player has kicked the ball, any one of the same side who is
nearer to the opponent's goal line is out of play, and may not touch the ball
himself, nor in any way whatever prevent any other player from doing so, until
he is in play; but no player is out of play when the ball is kicked off from
behind the goal line."
Three years later, however, the FA adopted the Cambridge rule with various
"tweaks" that were introduced during the next few years including exemption from
offside at goal kicks (1866), corner kicks (1881) [how can you be offside from a
corner in the first place?], offside limited to the opponents half of the field
(1907), throw ins (1921).
The three player rule lasted until the start of the 1925 season when the
"two player" offside rule was introduced.
In the Norfolk & Suffolk League the 1924-25 season saw 781 goals scored
from 182 matches, the following season and the new offside law saw 898 goals
scored from the same number of matches. In the Football League the change was
more dramatic 4,700 goals were scored in 1,848 Football League games in the
1924-25 season and this rose to 6,373 goals from the same number of games in