Vital Football

Latest Burnley FC News

Ye Olde Beautiful Game

Ye Olde Beautiful Game
Richard Moore recalls what football was like when he started off his acting career and found himself discussing tactics with Will Shakespeare! I didn't realise you were that old Richard? (Sorry couldn't resist mate!)



Shakespeare had a word to say about most things but it may come as a surprise to modern fans that he mentions football on more than one occasion, when the game was far from beautiful.

In the play, King Lear, one character calls another, "A base foot-ball player," and in Comedy of Errors someone complains, "Am I so round with you…that like a foot-ball you do spurn me thus…you must case me in leather?"

By the time the Bard was writing lines like these, the game of "ball-foot," "fute-ball," or foot-ball," was well established in Britain. There was a version called "Camp-ball." One can only be thankful that the name didn`t catch on, although the phrase, "hand-bags at ten paces," obviously survived.

The word "game" is old English for "fight" and early contests were certainly that, a huge brawl over an area where the "goals" could be several hundred yards apart or several miles.

There was a ball, made out of leather, stuffed with horsehair or a pig`s bladder filled with dried peas. It was the Elizabethans who later invented the inflatable bladder inside a leather case.

The earliest written confirmation that the ball was kicked comes from an Anglo-French Bishop of Lincoln (who may have been at the match for his own personal reasons) when he described, "Four and twenty bonny boys, were playing at the ball…he kicked the ball with his right foot." Which seems to indicate that pretty footballers have always been popular and that there was a shortage of left-sided players even then.

The stream of Geordie players started in the 13th century when a Northumberland man killed an opposition player with his dagger, his plea being that the other man had "run against it." There were no shortages of West Country hard men, either. In 1283 a Cornish player killed another with a stone to the head. In Oxford it was alleged that a player was, "killed by Irish students while playing foot-ball in the High Street."

Mediaeval mob-football was organized mayhem. No rules (except to "score.") no fair play and no Referees. Numerous laws were decreed to ban it, few of which proved successful.

King Edward II thundered, "There is an uproar …arising from the great striking of foot-balls, from which many evils shall arise. We do forbid, upon pain of punishment that such games shall be practised in the city."

Football was banned in the City of Leicester. (Quiet at the back, please) and at Westminster, "When ye Parliamente is sitting."

No government would attempt to pass that statute to day. Not if it wanted to remain in office.

By the 15th century, town "teams" appeared and Premiership chairmen will be depressed to know that you could buy a whole team for 20 pence.

Football boots appeared around 1526 and King Henry VIII ordered a pair.





He also ordered 45 pairs of velvet shoes, so he wasn`t that keen. Although, being King, it was probably difficult to keep him off the team sheet.

Referees, of a sort, appeared by 1581 and it was, perhaps not surprisingly, an English headmaster who first offered to referee, "for small teams, playing in formation."





Whatever the formation was, there are no Elizabethan references to 4-1-4-1.

There is a 16th century Scots poem, perhaps written by a McCoyle, which goes: "Bruised muscles and broken bones, discordant strife and futile blows, lamed in old age, then crippled withal. These are the beauties of football." Nothing`s changed there, then.

"Pitches" arrived in an attempt to limit the carnage and "goals" (generally a gateway) with Elizabethan "Beasts" to guard them and new rules stated that you couldn`t kick higher than the ball. (Hah!)

With games lasting up to four hours the players would resort to the tavern for a little refreshment before the carnage continued. The first "Footballer`s Arms."?

It wasn`t until 1870 that pushing players in the back was forbidden. Sadly this still doesn`t seem to have been taken on-board.

Sober or not, it would have taken a brave man to foul Henry VIII.

Especially when he was wearing his new Fute-ball bootes.

Richard Moore

Win FREE pizza with Vital Football!
Select your team and get 50% off if they score twice.
www.papajohns.co.uk/football

Writer:Richard Moore
Date:Thursday October 22 2009
Time: 9:48AM

Best of Vital Network

Comments

0
I wonder who the Clarets manager was back then? Harry Hamlet Pottsicus? Guess it would have been a case of 'Dare to Midsummer Night's Dream'
turfmanphil
22/10/2009 09:54:00
0
Can you imagine the Clarets V them that shall not be named?!
sheclaret
22/10/2009 11:36:00
0
Isn't it Horatio who taks about cracking a ( Peter ) noble heart ? And didn't The Bard indicate his love of the adavantage rule by opening Twelfth Night with ' if music be the food of love...play on '.
RickersTwickers
22/10/2009 18:46:00
Page 1/1
  1. 1

Login to post a comment

Recent Burnley Articles

Burnley - Premier League Free Transfers 2015/16

As the summer nears and contracts come to an end, should Burnley be interested in any of the following free transfers?

Liverpool To Pay £8m For Ings

Danny Ings tribunal fee for his transfer from Burnley to Liverpool has now been set, and Burnley will receive £8million - a record tribunal fee.

Fantastic 2015/16 Season For Mee

Centre half and fans Player of the Year overall winner, Ben Mee, has spoken of how this year has been his best in football.

Match Day Officials v QPR (2/5/16)

The Football League have now announced the Match Day officials that will take charge of the game against Queens Park Rangers this Monday.

Archived Vital Burnley Articles

Vital Burnley articles from

Site Journalists

turfmanphil
Editor email
Profile
Paul 8c8
no email
Profile

Current Poll (see more polls)

Preston MotM
Suggested By: Site Staff
Heaton5%
Lowton1%
Keane1%
Mee0%
Ward0%
Boyd55%
Marney5%
Barton31%
Arfield0%
Vokes1%
Gray1%
Sub - Barnes0%
Sub - Jones0%
ScoopDragon Publishing Entire League Network of Sites

League Table

# Team P W D L Pts. GD
1 Middlesbrough 45 26 10 9 88 32
2 Burnley 44 24 15 5 87 33
3 Brighton 44 24 15 5 87 30
4 Hull City 44 23 11 10 80 31
5 Derby County 44 21 14 9 77 24
6 Sheff Wed 44 18 17 9 71 19
7 Cardiff 44 17 16 11 67 8
8 Ipswich 44 16 15 13 63 0
9 Birmingham 45 16 14 15 62 4
10 Brentford 44 17 8 19 59 -2
11 Preston 44 14 16 14 58 -1
12 Leeds Utd 44 14 16 14 58 -7
13 Q.P.R. 44 13 18 13 57 0
14 Wolves 44 13 15 16 54 -6
15 Reading 44 13 13 18 52 -4
16 Huddersfield 44 13 12 19 51 -3
17 Forest 44 12 15 17 51 -5
18 Blackburn 44 11 16 17 49 -3
19 Rotherham 44 13 10 21 49 -13
20 Bristol City 44 12 13 19 49 -20
21 Fulham 44 11 15 18 48 -11
R MK Dons 44 9 12 23 39 -28
R Charlton 44 8 13 23 37 -38
R Bolton 44 4 15 25 27 -40
Latest F1 News
Latest Vital Boxing News

Recent Burnley Results (view all)

Burnley Fixtures (view all)

May 2 2016 4:45PM : Queens Park Rangers (H)
Sky Bet Championship
May 7 2016 12:30PM : Charlton Athletic (a)
Sky Bet Championship

Vital Members League Table

RankNamePoints
1.Mike Mada31
2.WelshClaret25
3.Irishclaret23
4.cornwallclaret17
5.uptonclaret1
6.stevewright701
7.ninian1