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The Early Days of Football

Nov 28, 2017
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This is a million miles away from the Premiership world that we all know and love. Back in the early days of football there was certainly a variety of rules. John Cottrell in his book, “A Century of Great Soccer Drama,” has these interesting stories.

“Football was not taken quite so seriously. It was not unusual that the 1873 Cup Final should start half an hour late because players were watching the Boat Race, and in 1875, Major Mandarin, one of the Engineers, withdrew from the Cup Final because he was an old Etonian and it would mean playing against his fellow old boys. But once the whistle had blown, the game was on in earnest, with no quarter asked or given, broken bones were commonplace. In the first Cup Final, Lieutenant Cresswell of the engineers broke his collar-bone after ten minutes but played on until the finish. When the Wanderers won the Cup for the third successive time in 1878, goalkeeper J. Kilpatrick played on with a fractured arm.

Before the start of one of the great ‘blood’ matches between Old Etonians and Old Harrovians, C.W, Alcock, captain of the Harrovains and secretary of the Football Association, asked Lord Kinnaird of the Old Etonians, “Look here, Arthur, shall we play fair, or shall we have hacking?”
“Oh, yes let’s have hacking,” cried his Lordship. And, though he never wore shin guards, he proceeded to hack through the match with such gusto that he commented afterwards, “I haven’t enjoyed myself so much for years.”
Lady Kinnaird did not share his enthusiasm. Dreading that he would eventually sustain a fearful injury, his mother once remarked to Major Mandarin (later Sir Francis Mandarin president of the F.A.) that she felt sure he would one day come home with a broken leg. “Don’t worry,” said Mandarin. “If he does, it won’t be his own.”

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