History of the Rules of Football

The Development of the Rules of Football
Clubs in Sheffield played a major role in the development of the rules of football leading to how the modern game is played today. The Sheffield Rules were devised and played in the city between 1857 and 1877. Corners, throw-ins and heading the ball were all introduced into football in Sheffield. The world’s first competitive inter-club match between Hallam FC and Sheffield FC in 1860 and the world’s first football tournament, the Youdan Cup, were played according to the Sheffield Rules. Following the 1860 Boxing Day derby between Hallam and Sheffield, players and committee members retired to the Plough for much needed refreshments.

In 1862, another game between Hallam and Sheffield began the move towards having a fixed goalkeeper. The game became known locally as the ‘Battle of Bramall Lane’ after a brawl broke out between opposing players. For his part in the melee, Hallam’s Waterfall was sent to guard the goal as a punishment. The offside rule was introduced into the Sheffield Rules in 1863. This required one that one player must be between an opposition player and the goal for that player to be deemed onside.

The Youdan Cup played in 1867 reinforced the historic importance of the Sheffield Rules. The tournament was played between February and March and involved 12 local sides. Hallam won the final at Bramall Lane watched by a then world record crowd of 3,000 spectators. Interestingly, Hallam actually won the game with two rouges scored in the last five minutes. Rouges had been introduced in 1861 using flags placed 4 yards either side of the goal. If the ball was kicked between the flags and touched down, a rouge was awarded. In the event of tie in goals, rouges could be used to decide the result. Rouges were subsequently abandoned in 1868.

The victorious players of Hallam were presented with the Youdan Trophy at a dinner held at 7 p.m at the Plough on March16th 1867. Soon after the Youdan Cup, the Sheffield Football Association was formed and it adopted the Sheffield Rules. The Sheffield FA was the first of several regional associations that formed in subsequent years. Nottingham, Birmingham and Derbyshire adopted the Sheffield Rules as did most other areas in the north. London Rules still prevailed in the southern half of the country.

The first ‘golden goal’ was scored in Sheffield. This was in the final of the Cromwell Cup in 1868 which ended goalless after 90 minutes. Extra time was played until a team scored a goal which The Wednesday did.

The Football Association had been formed in London in 1863 and the early years of the modern game was dominated by the rivalry between London and Sheffield for leadership over the development of the game. That rivalry took the form of games between southern and northern clubs, discussions between the two associations and many pints of beer consumed over arguments about what the rules should be. The Plough hosted committee meetings throughout the period when the modern rules of the game were emerging. A key figure in discussions between Sheffield and London was Thomas Vickers who along with John Shaw was a founding member ofHallam FC, served as President of the Sheffield FA between 1869 to 1885. Vickers, a familiar figure in the Plough, was instrumental in the merger of the Sheffield Rules into the national game.
As early as 1863, a local newspaper in Sheffield was calling for all clubs to agree ‘universal rules’ This was finally achieved in 1882 followed by the creation of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in 1886 which was given full authority to determine the ‘laws of the game’.  IFAB was succeeded by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in 1904. FIFA still retains absolute authority over the laws of the game.