October 10, 2009
The Beginning of Soccer

the-beginning-of-soccerEarly Ball Games - Britain - Mob Football

Between the 7th and 9th century in England (including the adjacent areas of Normandy, Brittany, Picardy, Cornwall, Wales, Scotland and Ireland) various ball games emerged. The most popular of them was mob football.It was explicitly violent and played between villages, at the time of celebration and festivity.

In fact, it was so violent that people living nearby would barricade their windows during matches.Both “teams” tried to force a ball into the center square of the enemy village or they might have played across different parts of town, again centered at a market place or a town square.There are many theories as to how exactly mob football came about. Some of the earlier versions, like Shrovetide football, had vague rules restricting only murder or manslaughter. Legends (from Derby) preach that the game originated in Britain around 3rd century as a celebration over the defeated Romans. Others (Kingston-on-Thames and Chester) claim that the game was originally played with the severed head of a vanquished Danish prince. The game may also have been a pagan ritual in which the ball, representing the sun, had to be conquered and driven around the field, ensuring good harvest. There is also evidence (from Scotland) of this early rugby being played in teams between married men and bachelors, probably also as a heretic rite.

It may be possible that mob football was introduced to England during the Norman invasion from France. A similar game is known to have existed in that region not long before mob football appeared in England.The exact origin cannot be pinpointed, but it is likely that the game was played with extreme enthusiasm, considering records of its prohibition.

There are written records of unfortunate and even fatal incidents that occurred because of mob football. Two instances dating from 1280 and 1312 describe deadly encounters caused by playing with a sheathed knife on the belt. Such examples probably stimulated the development of unwritten laws and principles, but their loose following gave way to prohibitions.

On April 13, 1314 King Edward II issued one of the first recorded prohibition, because of the impact that “this hustling over large balls” had on the merchant life. Edward III also tried to stop “futeball” in 1349, followed by Richard II, Henry IV, Henry VI and James III. The game was frowned upon by the bourgeoisie due to its unchristian nature and its lack of regulations.

By the 17th century, Carew of Cornwall attempted to introduce some sense in his Survey of Cornwall by adding the prohibition of charging players below the girdle and by disallowing the forward pass. These implementations, however, were not widely used and violence continued to relished. — www.expertfootball.com

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