26 October 1863: the Football Association is founded

On this day in 1863, 12 London football clubs got together at the Freemasons’ Tavern in London to form the Football Association to govern the increasingly popular sport.

The rules of football are pretty straightforward, you'd think: kick the ball in the goal, and don't use your hands. Even the offside rule isn't particularly difficult to grasp if you make even the slightest effort.

But it took a surprisingly long time to settle on a standard form of play.

Ebenezer Morley was a Yorkshireman, a solicitor, and the founder of Barnes FC in southwest London. At the time, there were a lot of arguments about what the rules should be. So Morley invited representatives of 12 London clubs to form an association to govern the game. A meeting was set for Monday 26 October 1863 at the Freemasons' Tavern in Great Queen Street, and the Football Association was born. 

After six meetings, the FA came up with 13 rules, which were approved and written down in the FA Minute Book on 8 December. But they were a little different to the current rules.

For a start, the goal had no crossbar – a goal counted no matter how high it crossed the line between the posts. There was no goalkeeper. Teams changed ends after each goal scored. Players were allowed to make a “fair catch” – if they caught the ball cleanly, they were awarded a free kick (much like Australian Rules football today, perhaps). Throw-ins had to be at right angles to the touchline. And if the ball went behind the goal, things got complicated, and could end up with the attacking team being awarded an unopposed free kick in front of the goal. And the offside rule wasn't introduced until 1866.

By 1871, the FA counted 50 clubs who had paid the annual £1.1s membership fee. Charles Alcock decided it would be a good idea for a Challenge Cup to be established "for which all clubs belonging to the Association should be invited to compete". And so the FA Cup was born.

Alcock also came up with the idea of the first international match, and on 5 March 1870, England played Scotland at the Oval cricket ground, with the result a 1-1 draw. Oddly, because the Scottish players were based in London, Fifa doesn't recognise this as a proper international match. The first "official" international match took place between Scotland and England in Glasgow in 1872.

Recommended

Whether it’s cryptocurrencies or investment trusts, make sure you know what you’re investing in
Investment strategy

Whether it’s cryptocurrencies or investment trusts, make sure you know what you’re investing in

Many people scoff at cryptocurrency speculators pouring money into an asset they may barely understand. But the same could be said of investors in man…
26 Jan 2022
How to invest in energy and metals as tech stocks crash
Commodities

How to invest in energy and metals as tech stocks crash

It’s been a terrible week for stockmarkets. But not everything is crashing – “real” assets such as metals and energy are holding up well and should ha…
26 Jan 2022
Shareholder capitalism: the world’s most powerful asset manager wants you to have your say
ESG investing

Shareholder capitalism: the world’s most powerful asset manager wants you to have your say

Under shareholder capitalism, the owners of the companies the big fund managers invest in are us – yet our voice is rarely heard. Now one asset manage…
26 Jan 2022
Julian Brigden: markets are at a huge inflexion point
Investment strategy

Julian Brigden: markets are at a huge inflexion point

Merryn talks to Julian Brigden of Macro Intelligence 2 Partners about the unwinding of the US stockmarket's super-bubble, and the risks and opportunit…
25 Jan 2022

Most Popular

Shareholder capitalism: why we must return power to listed companies’ ultimate owners
Investment strategy

Shareholder capitalism: why we must return power to listed companies’ ultimate owners

Under our system of shareholder capitalism it's not fund managers, it‘s the individual investors – the company's ultimate owners – who should be telli…
24 Jan 2022
Three innovative Asian stocks to buy now
Share tips

Three innovative Asian stocks to buy now

Professional investor Fay Ren of the Cerno Pacific Fund highlights three of her favourite Asian stocks to buy now
24 Jan 2022
Temple Bar’s Ian Lance and Nick Purves: the essence of value investing
Investment strategy

Temple Bar’s Ian Lance and Nick Purves: the essence of value investing

Ian Lance and Nick Purves of the Temple Bar investment trust explain the essence of “value investing” – buying something for less than its intrinsic v…
14 Jan 2022