Who are the Founding Fathers of The Football Association?
There were seven original ‘Officers’ of The Association appointed in 1863 and they justifiably appear in the list of ‘Founding Fathers’ along with Charles William Alcock (1842-1907). The seven are:
Ebenezer Cobb Morley (1831-1924)
Arthur Pember (1835-1886)
Francis Maule Campbell (1843-1920)
John Forster Alcock (1841-1910)
Herbert Thomas Steward (1839-1915)
George Twizell Wawn (1840-1914)
Charles Alcock was not one of the seven original ‘Officers’ of the Association. Why is he included in The FA’s search?
Charles William Alcock is the odd one out in the list in the sense that there is no evidence that he attended any of the meetings in 1863. He did not become an FA ‘Officer’ until three years later. Alcock is a ‘Founding Father’ because…
1. He was a major instigator in the development of international football (and cricket)
2. He was the creator of The FA Cup
3. He was a prime mover in the foundation of Wanderers FC, the five-time (and first) FA Cup winners.
When were the Laws of the Game established?
The Laws of the Game were not discussed in the first meeting on 26 October 1863. That came in subsequent meetings during 1863, with the 13 original laws being finally approved on 8 December 1863. The first match under FA rules followed on 19 December, a 0-0 draw between Barnes and Richmond at Limes Field in south-west London.
What were the 13 original Laws?
1. The maximum length of the ground shall be 200 yards, the maximum breadth shall be 100 yards, the length and breadth shall be marked off with flags; and the goal shall be defined by two upright posts, 8 yards apart, without any tape or bar across them.
2. The winners of the toss shall have choice of goals. The game shall be commenced by a place kick from the centre of the ground by the side losing the toss; the other side shall not approach within ten yards of the ball until it is kicked off.
3. After a goal is won the losing side shall kick off and goals shall be changed.
4. A goal shall be won when the ball passes between the goal-posts or over the space between the goal-posts (at whatever height), not being thrown, knocked on, or carried.
5. When the ball is in touch the first player who touches it shall throw it from the point on the boundary line where it left the ground, in a direction at right angles with the boundary line, and it shall not be in play until it has touched the ground.
6. 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 the ball has been played; but no player is out of play when the ball is kicked from behind the goal line.
7. In case the ball goes behind the goal line, if a player on the side to whom the goal belongs first touches the ball, one of his side shall be entitled to a free kick from the goal line at the point opposite the place where the ball shall be touched. If a player of the opposite side first touches the ball, one of his side shall be entitled to a free kick (but at the goal only) from a point 15 yards from the goal line opposite the place where the ball is touched. The opposing side shall stand behind their goal line until he has had his kick.
8. If a player makes a fair catch he shall be entitled to a free kick, provided he claims it by making a mark with his heel at once; and in order to take such kick he may go as far back as he pleases, and no player on the opposite side shall advance beyond his mark until he has kicked.
9. No player shall carry the ball.
10. Neither tripping nor hacking shall be allowed, and no player shall use his hands to hold or push an adversary.
11. A player shall not be allowed to throw the ball or pass it to another.
12. No player shall be allowed to take the ball from the ground with his hands while it is in play under any pretence whatever.
13. No player shall wear projecting nails, iron plates, or gutta percha on the soles or heels of his boots.
What is the original FA Minute Book?
The original Football Association minute book is a hand-written record of the early meetings of The Association. The modern game of football was born on 26 October 1863. Ebenezer Morley, a solicitor and sportsman living in London, thought that football should have a set of rules in the same way that cricket had. His initiative led to the meeting at which, on his proposal, The Football Association was formed.
The captains, secretaries and other representatives of a dozen London and suburban clubs met at the Freemasons' Tavern and their purpose was to form an Association with the object of establishing a code of rules for the regulation of the game. The intention was to standardise the rules, to iron out differences between those already used by various clubs and schools, not to create a new game.
It took six meetings for The FA to finally approve the rules drafted by Ebenezer Morley and the minutes of those historic meetings are recorded in Morley’s own handwriting in this special book. It also includes the original record of decisions in the early 1870s to start an FA Challenge Cup competition and arrange the first international match.
There is no more important book in the history of football.
Where can I see the original FA Minute Book?
It is currently on show at Wembley Stadium as part of an FA150 exhibition open to the public. Visit wembleystadium.com to find out more.
Although the game we play today dates back to 26 October 1863, there were forms of football before then weren’t there?
Different forms of ‘football’ had been played at English public schools since the 18th century. But each school had its own rules and those often varied considerably from school to school. It was at Cambridge University, probably in 1848, that the first code of rules was compiled which resembles the one we know today. The FA’s intention in 1863 was to standardise the rules for football and to iron out differences, not to create a completely new game. Uniformity was the key: we should all be playing the same game.
Where can I read more about the history of The FA?
I have information about the Founding Fathers, how do I get in contact?
If you have any information that can assist, please e-mail FoundingFathers@TheFA.com
Who are the Founding Fathers of The Football Association?