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

State pension errors – why tens of thousands of mothers could be missing out on millions in state pension payments
State pensions

State pension errors – why tens of thousands of mothers could be missing out on millions in state pension payments

LCP launches Mothers Missing Millions campaign amid DWP state pension errors.
3 Dec 2022
The top funds to invest in now
Funds

The top funds to invest in now

As market volatility continues, here are the top funds, stocks and investment trusts investors are putting their money into, according to one investme…
2 Dec 2022
The best places to live in the UK – and how much they will cost you
House prices

The best places to live in the UK – and how much they will cost you

Thinking of moving? Here are the best places to live in the UK and how much they will cost if you are buying.
2 Dec 2022
The pros and cons of smart meters – should you switch?
Personal finance

The pros and cons of smart meters – should you switch?

A smart meter can help you keep tabs on your energy usage, but is it better than a regular meter? We take a look at smart meters vs regular meters.
2 Dec 2022

Most Popular

Fan heater vs oil heater – which is cheaper?
Personal finance

Fan heater vs oil heater – which is cheaper?

Sales of portable heaters have soared, as households look to cut their energy costs. But which is better: a fan heater or an oil heater? We put them t…
21 Nov 2022
Is it cheaper to leave the heating on low all day?
Personal finance

Is it cheaper to leave the heating on low all day?

The weather is getting colder and energy bills are rising, but is it really cheaper to leave the heating on low all day or should you only turn it on …
1 Dec 2022
7 sin stocks to buy yielding up to 8%!
Share tips

7 sin stocks to buy yielding up to 8%!

Sin stocks don’t have the best reputation, but when it comes to investment returns, they’re certainly worth a closer look.
2 Dec 2022