The following Football Association Rules were place when Leicester Fosse were founded.

  1. The limits of the ground shall be, maximum length, 200 yards; minimum length, 100 yards; maximum breadth, 100 yards, minimum breadth, 50 yards. The length and breadth shall be marked off with flags and touch line; and the goals shall be upright posts, 8 yards apart, with a bar across them 8 feet from the ground. The average circumference of the Association ball shall be not less than twenty-seven inches and not more than twenty-eight inches.
  2. The winners of the toss shall have the option of kick off or choice of goals. The game shall be commenced by a place-kick from the centre of the ground in the direction of the opposite goal-line; the other side shall not approach within 10 yards of the ball until it is kicked off, nor shall any player on either side pass the centre of the ground in the direction of his opponents’ goal until the ball is kicked off.
  3. Ends shall only be changed at half-time. After a goal is won the losing side shall kick-off, but after the change of ends at half-time the ball shall be kicked-off by the opposite side from that which originally did so; and always as provided in Law 2.
  4. A goal shall be won when the ball has passed between the goal-posts under the bar, not being thrown, knocked on, or carried by any one of the attacking side. The ball hitting the goal, or boundary-posts, or goal-bar, and rebounding into play, is considered in play.
  5. When the ball is in touch, a player of the opposite side to that which kicked it out shall throw it from the point on the boundary line where it left the ground. The thrower, facing the field of play, shall hold the ball above his head and throw it with both hands in any direction, and it shall be in play when thrown in. The player throwing it shall not play it until it has been played by another player.
  6.  When a player kicks the ball, or throws it in from touch, any one of the same side who, at such moment of kicking or throwing, is nearer to the opponents’ 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, unless there are at such moment of kicking or throwing at least three of his opponents nearer their own goal line; but no player is out of play in the case of a corner-kick or when the ball is kicked from the goal line, or when it has been last played by an opponent.
  7. When the ball is kicked behind the goal-line by one of the opposite side it shall be kicked off by any one of the players behind whose goal line it went, within six yards of the nearest goal-post; but if kicked behind by any one of the side whose goal-line it is, a player of the opposite side shall kick it from within one yard of the nearest corner flag-post. In either case no other player shall be allowed within six yards of the ball until it is kicked off.
  8. No player shall carry, knock on, or handle the ball under any pretence whatever, except in the case of the goal-keeper, who shall be allowed to use his hands in defence of his goal, either by knocking on or throwing, but not carrying the ball. The goal-keeper may be changed during the game, but not more than one player shall act as goal-keeper at the same time; and no second player shall step in and act during any period in which the regular goal-keeper may have vacated his position.
  9. In no case shall a goal be scored from any free kick, nor shall the ball be again played by the kicker until it has been played by another player. The kick-off and corner-flag kick shall be free kicks within the meaning of this rule.
  10. Neither tripping, hacking, nor jumping at a player, shall be allowed, and no player shall use his hands to hold or push his adversary, or charge him from behind. A player with his back towards his opponents’ goal cannot claim the protection of this rule when charged from behind, provided, in the opinion of the umpires or referee, he, in that position, is wilfully impeding his opponent.
  11. No player shall wear any nails, except such as have their heads driven in flush with the leather, or iron plates, or gutta-percha on the soles or heels of his boots, or on his shin-guards. Any player discovered infringing this rule shall be prohibited from taking any further part in the game.
  12. In the event of any infringement of rules 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10, a free kick shall be forfeited to the opposite side, from the spot where the infringement took place.
  13. In the event of an appeal for any supposed infringement of the rules, the ball shall be in play until a decision has been given.
  14. Each of the competing clubs shall be entitled to appoint an umpire, whose duties shall be to decide all disputed points when appealed to; and by mutual arrangement a referee may be chosen to decide in all cases of difference between the umpires.
  15. The referee shall have power to stop the game in the event of spectators interfering with the game.

Definition of Terms

Place Kick – the ball is kicked when lying on the ground, in any position chosen by the kicker.

Free Kick – the ball is when lying on the ground. No opponents are allowed within six yards of the ball, but players cannot be forced to stand behind their own goal-line.

Hacking – intentional kicking of an opponent.

Tripping – the throwing of an opponent by use of the leg, or by stooping in front of him.

Knocking on – when a player strikes or propels the ball with his hands or arms.

Holding includes the obstruction of a player by the hand or any part of the arm extended from the body.

Handling – playing the ball with the hand or arm.

Touch is that part of the field, on either side of the ground, which is beyond the line of play.

Carrying – moving more than two steps when carrying the ball.

Some notable differences from the modern game include:

  • There was no crossbar. Goals could be scored at any height.
  • Although most forms of handling were not permitted, players were allowed to catch the ball but could not run with it or throw it. A so-called “fair catch” was rewarded with a free kick (this still exists in in Australian rules football, rugby union and American football).
  • Any player ahead of the kicker was deemed offside (similar to today’s offside rule in rugby union). The only exception was when the ball was kicked from behind the goal line.
  • The throw-in was awarded to the first player (on either team) to touch the ball after it went out of play. The ball had to be thrown in at right-angles to the touchline (as today in rugby union).
  • There was no corner kick. When the ball went behind the goal-line, there was a situation somewhat like rugby: if an attacking player first touched the ball after it went out of play, then the attacking team had an opportunity to take a free kick at goal from a point fifteen yards behind the point where the ball was touched (somewhat similar to a conversion in rugby). If a defender first touched the ball, then the defending team kicked the ball out from on or behind the goal line (equivalent to the goal-kick).
  • Teams changed ends every time a goal was scored.
  • The rules made no provision for a goalkeeper, match officials, punishments for infringements of the rules, duration of the match, half-time, number of players, or pitch-markings (other than flags to mark the boundary of the playing area).

The following amendments were made to the Rules during the nineteenth century:

•  1887 – The goalkeeper may not handle the ball in the opposition’s half.

•  1888 – The drop ball is introduced as a means of restarting play after it has been suspended by the referee.

•  1889 – A player may be sent off for repeated cautionable behaviour.

•  1890 – A goal may not be scored directly from a goal kick.

When first introduced in 1891, the penalty was awarded for offences within 12 yards of the goal-line.

•  1891 – The penalty kick is introduced, for handball or foul play within 12 yards of the goal line. The umpires are replaced by linesmen. Pitch markings are introduced for the goal area, penalty area, centre spot and centre circle.

•  1897 – The laws specify, for the first time, the number of players on each team (11) and the duration of each match (90 minutes, unless agreed otherwise). The half-way line is introduced. The maximum length of the ground is reduced from 200 yards to 130 yards.

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