Ward's Book of Days.

Pages of interesting anniversaries.

What happened on this day in history.


On this day in history in 1863, The Football Association was formed.

The Football Association, the world's oldest football organisation, was founded in a public house in London. The F A was formed because every team was playing to different rules, and so its first task was to draw up a set of rules for the game.

In the early Nineteenth Century, there were no fixed rules for playing football. There were various clubs, who played by their own individual rules, but all their games were played between sides taken from their own club. The players would meet on a regular basis, select the teams for the day, and have a game amongst themselves. The diversity of rules made playing a match against another club difficult, if not impossible.

In order to facilitate inter club competition, delegates from several notable clubs of the day met on 26th October 1963, in the Freemasons’ Tavern, London [now the Freemasons Arms, 60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ]. The delegates were from such famous clubs as Barnes, War Office, Crusaders, Leytonstone, No Name Club, Crystal Palace (not the modern club), Blackheath (now a rugby club), Kensington, Percival House and Surbiton School. It was agreed at the meeting to form the Football Association, and to hold a further session of meetings to draw up a common set of rules.

The meetings for the formulation of the rules were long and protracted, all taking place at the Freemasons Tavern, fuelled by copious drafts of ale. After six meetings, a set of rules, drawn up by Ebenezer Cobb Morley of Barnes, were agreed but the representative from Blackheath withdrew his club in protest at the inclusion of a rule which prevented ‘hacking’, the kicking of an opponent in the shins. Many other football clubs followed Blackheath, and in 1871, formed the Rugby Football Union. The first ever game of soccer was played at Mortlake on 19th December 1863, between Barnes and Richmond, and resulted in a nil-nil draw.

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