Australian Football, rugby - foundations and codification

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Quolls19

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English, Gaelic, Koori and what about the Scottish influence?



John Hope of the Edinburgh University is credited (by Scottish Authorities at least) of first non school based football club in 1824.

As the actual (not copies) contemporary records still exist, there is no doubt that he did start a football club in 1824.

There is also no doubt that membership included non-students as contemporary records are also in existence.

The first known reference to the rules is a note written by Hope, probably in 1833, that may be a suggestion or observation of a game he observed or played in.



“1 Single soled shoes, no iron

2 No tripping

3 Ball to pass imaginary line

4 A free kick if ball out of bounds

5 Pushing is allowed. Holding not illegal

6 Allow the ball to be lifted between fields

Aff: Fun - air - exercise

Neg: No tripping”



The University of Edinburgh history departments football page states:



“Hope, then a 17 year old, organised a season of games for the Foot-Ball Club he had formed in Edinburgh.

This was not football in its modern form. The club's games probably resembled the rough and tumble of traditional ball games played in many places. A letter of 1825 refers to a game involving 39 players, and 'such kicking of shins and such tumbling'.

Sticks marked the goals. The only surviving club rules forbade tripping, but allowed pushing and holding and the lifting of the ball. A 'chairman' seems to have acted as a referee.

The club’s first known ground was the park on the Dalry estate in the city's south-west suburbs. The club was dominated by young lawyers and other professionals, and the sons of the Edinburgh legal fraternity and the landed gentry.

Starting with 61 members, the club grew to 85 members in 1826-7 season. In 1831, they moved to Greenhill parks in Bruntsfield, and by 1839-40 the club was meeting in Grove Park, west of Gardeners Crescent.

The last written record relating to the club, dated February 1841, is an enquiry concerning temporary membership, which shows the club was still active.”



Hope, then a prominent citizen of Scotland, opened a public playground (Stockbridge) in 1854 (not too public when you read the admission criteria) that promoted the playing of sports. The rules of the park, written in small booklet included:



“9. The games already sanctioned are Foot-Ball, Cricket, Quoits, Foot-Racing, Hand-Ball, Tig, Cross-Tig and all ordinary games where equipment is not required. Games by which parties may be lead to strain or injure themselves by feats of strength or bragging each other...........are not permitted.

The Game of Foot-Ball is strongly recommended, as giving the most exercise and fun in a short time. There must be no kicking of shins, nor tripping — for these are apt to produce quarrels and hurts, and do not form part of the game. The ball is not "hailed," unless it is sent between the posts, by one of the side whose duty it is to send it through, and unless it touch the ground. If the ball is sent through by one of the other side, it is not "hailed." The ball should not be kicked out of bounds. When this occurs, it should be lifted up by the hand, and brought within bounds. The party thus lifting it, is entitled to a "free kick," but the ball must not be lifted by the hand from the ground at any other time. The British League Cap, to distinguish sides, cost 2d, is recommended. Beware of kicking the ball over the fences. Mr Gray, saddler, 18, South Hanover Street, can supply round cases of stout grain dressed shoe leather for 3s. 6d. each. They will be found cheapest in the end, and save bladders.”



Several elements of the early Melbourne Rules game there, kicking between the posts is interesting. Picking up the ball to kick under certain circumstance.



John McAdam, who was one of the umpires at the 1858 game between Scotch and Melbourne Grammar, attended the University of Edinburgh, he arrived in Melbourne in 1855 and was a lecturer at Scotch College, being appointed before he left Scotland.



An even earlier Scottish record of football is contained in the “Dictates of Archibald Flint, a student at Edinburgh University, 1673.

From Scottish sports history.



“When writing the book 1824: The World’s First Foot-Ball Club, we took a close look at the lengthy pre-history of football in Edinburgh. This led to the rediscovery of some remarkable seventeenth century drawings which include what is probably the earliest illustration of football goalposts yet discovered – not to mention the oldest picture of football in Scotland.

It was drawn by Archibald Flint, a student who graduated from Edinburgh University in 1673. He doodled extensively in the margins of his lecture notes (known as dictates) and on the title pages of two surviving volumes are four little pen sketches which show men – presumably students – taking part in sport. They depict billiards, tennis, football and target archery.

The importance of these drawings was first recognised by Charles Pringle Finlayson, who was keeper of manuscripts at Edinburgh University library. He wrote a lengthy analysis in the Scottish Historical Review, published in 1958, but his paper has been largely forgotten and deserves to be better known among sports historians.

archibald-flint-football_orig.jpg




The football scene is fascinating, with two men in hats kicking a ball between a curious set of three-barred goal posts. Finlayson speculates that the bars may be associated with some kind of scoring differential, depending on which bit of the goal the ball crosses. Alternatively, he says, they might relate to the Edinburgh field where football was played, Gallowgreen, because of their similarity to the shape of the gallows.”
my note..on an oval like playing area....no deep meaning, just interesting.




I don’t think the Shrewsbury football rules have been discussed.

Description of the Rules of Football as played at Shrewsbury School (1855) Differences between the later association rules.


1. Each side could consist of twelve, or of an unlimited number.

2. A match was decided by the best out of three 'games' (i.e. goals).

3. A goal could be kicked at any height.

4. A player who caught the ball direct from a kick could take a 'hoist' (i.e. drop kick); otherwise the ball might not be handled.

5. No one might stand wilfully between the ball and his opponent's goal.
 

RedV3x

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English, Gaelic, Koori and what about the Scottish influence?

1 Single soled shoes, no iron

2 No tripping

3 Ball to pass imaginary line

4 A free kick if ball out of bounds

5 Pushing is allowed. Holding not illegal

6 Allow the ball to be lifted between fields
Absolutely no idea how it was played just from the rules. It's rather a pointless exercise
 

Quolls19

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Others may not think so, and it was for interest only. If you’re not interested don’t read.
 
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Gigantor

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As has already been mentioned a few times various forms of "folk" football existed for centuries in the British Isles (and in parts of continental Europe).
They often share many commonalities.
No surprise that many of the football rules from various English schools from the 1840s and 1850s have common features (and that all the modern footballs share some terminology).
In that 1858 to 1871 period, there is an observable tension between two clear camps: those who wish to run with the ball and those who wish to kick the ball (often both having the option of kicking out of hand in certain circumstances).
At least two modern forms of football: Australian and Gaelic, got stuck in the middle of the two camps, for whatever reason. Absolutely no one should be surprised that an array would exist between these two extremities, for anyone to think otherwise is foolhardy. In fact, the histories of both soccer and rugby show some movement along the array in different directions at different times.
Given we know so little about how these forms of "folk" football were played, other than it often occurred over big distances, often across the land separating two villages, it's almost impossible for anyone to conclude what was the biggest influence on what.
What we do know is that that 1859 codification (of Melbourne Rules), is relatively early in the piece in the context of modern football.

Some things I dislike about these sorts of discussions:
- people often use a 21st century lens to attach importance to things like the shape of playing fields and balls, when circa 1858-60, the shape of such things mean absolutely nothing;
- people beating the drum of one particular type of football, jump to extraordinary conclusions given some sort of historical quirk. For example, I can recall finding out how one form of "folk" football made goals out of two balconies facing each other, i.e. the ball would have to have been thrown or kicked above one story onto the balcony to be a score - I can recall one soccer "historian" concluding that this was most likely an early form of soccer - well, why would it mean that?? One could almost draw the exact opposite conclusion! (that conceptually, the balcony is more like a rugby or American football goal)
 

Quolls19

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Yes the fields were whatever was available, English school games were generally on the normally, not always, rectangular yards between school buildings.
Victorian/Australian rules only became a regular cricket oval game when the cricket clubs realised they could make money out of it. Before that normally played on rectangular grounds.
It wasn‘t until 1886 the the distance between the goal and behind posts were reduced from 20 yards to 10. For a long time the width of the actual goal was decided by the captains. 20 yards each side of goal plus a measure for the goal is a bit of a distance for the end of an oval.
 

NoobPie

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“playing semantics”?

By "playing semantics" I meant insisting the words mean precisely your definition of them particularly when you are imposing them on either other posters or someone writing 90 years ago

When I am saying "you don't know what Harrison meant by "Football" I am obviously making a semantic point

I hope this helps
 
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NoobPie

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As has already been mentioned a few times various forms of "folk" football existed for centuries in the British Isles (and in parts of continental Europe).
They often share many commonalities.
No surprise that many of the football rules from various English schools from the 1840s and 1850s have common features (and that all the modern footballs share some terminology).
In that 1858 to 1871 period, there is an observable tension between two clear camps: those who wish to run with the ball and those who wish to kick the ball (often both having the option of kicking out of hand in certain circumstances).
At least two modern forms of football: Australian and Gaelic, got stuck in the middle of the two camps, for whatever reason.
Alternatively, they were able to reconcile these two elements into a coherent and balanced code



Absolutely no one should be surprised that an array would exist between these two extremities, for anyone to think otherwise is foolhardy. In fact, the histories of both soccer and rugby show some movement along the array in different directions at different times.
Given we know so little about how these forms of "folk" football were played, other than it often occurred over big distances, often across the land separating two villages, it's almost impossible for anyone to conclude what was the biggest influence on what.
What we do know is that that 1859 codification (of Melbourne Rules), is relatively early in the piece in the context of modern football.

Some things I dislike about these sorts of discussions:
- people often use a 21st century lens to attach importance to things like the shape of playing fields and balls, when circa 1858-60, the shape of such things mean absolutely nothing;
- people beating the drum of one particular type of football, jump to extraordinary conclusions given some sort of historical quirk. For example, I can recall finding out how one form of "folk" football made goals out of two balconies facing each other, i.e. the ball would have to have been thrown or kicked above one story onto the balcony to be a score - I can recall one soccer "historian" concluding that this was most likely an early form of soccer - well, why would it mean that?? One could almost draw the exact opposite conclusion! (that conceptually, the balcony is more like a rugby or American football goal)
Dead right, which goes to the point you made earlier in the thread.

It is some of the same historians who concern themselves with policing debate around the marngrook influence that will claim any soccer is a direct and exclusive continuum of any historical reference that to a football game where there is a vague reference with playing with the feet
 

RedV3x

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As has already been mentioned a few times various forms of "folk" football existed for centuries in the British Isles (and in parts of continental Europe).
Yes, whilst the English like to say football roots go back to England, the Irish say football much further back to the middle ages throuhout Europe
with the influence of the Gaels and Celts.


Some things I dislike about these sorts of discussions:
- people often use a 21st century lens to attach importance to things
Exactly. What was early football in Europe ? A lot of pushing and shoving in an attempt to kick a goal through two posts.
Somewhere along the line, basic divisions came along.
Rugby types thought if we allow running with the ball then any passing must be backwards otherwise it's too easy - hence offside.
Soccer types thought it would be better to force players to kick past players and not over players' heads - hence the crossbar/net.
Aussie types thought it would be better to kick over players' head for a goal - hence the rule of being kicked cleanly through the goals.
this idea of punting the ball intertwines with the idea of kick and catch as a game design.

As I said before, the unwritten rules are probably more important than the written rules.
Where did the hand-pass come from ? The first ten colonial rules say you could catch the ball "on the hop".
It doesn't say what you can then do but presumably and logically you could kick the ball.
It isn't until much later that that there is a rule noting that "handing-off" is illegal.
It isn't until very much later that there is a rule that says that the flick-pass is banned.
Where's the reference to the hand-pass ?
What's the difference to the big kick and the "little kick"?
 

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Quolls19

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“What's the difference to the big kick and the "little kick"?l
sorry, never come across these terms in the Australian rules resources I have examined, where did they come from?
 

RedV3x

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“What's the difference to the big kick and the "little kick"?l
sorry, never come across these terms in the Australian rules resources I have examined, where did they come from?
in 1897 the "little mark" was abolished.
Again, there is no mention of the introduction of the "little mark" as there is no mention of the hand-pass.
1877 A player cannot hand the ball to another player.
 
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TWLS

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in 1897 the "little mark" was abolished.
Again, there is no mention of the introduction of the "little mark" as there is no mention of the hand-pass.
1877 A player cannot the ball to another player.
“What's the difference to the big kick and the "little kick"?l
sorry, never come across these terms in the Australian rules resources I have examined, where did they come from?
Wow your testing my memory now and going back many years.
From memory the little kick was a very short pass used mainly in the fwd line so that the goal sneak could get into a better position to kick the goal. Like everything else it was abused so much it was abandoned. When the sneak marked it that was a little mark. Cannot remember how many yards it had to be but it is recorded. So if someone (Not Me) started checking match reports in 1890/1897 it will be there I think.
The big kick is what we use today and the distance required was discussed may times in those eras and saw the demise of the little kick.
To find some of this stuff it was necessary to spend many many hours wading through match reports etc which I did when I retired.
Totally agree about the hand pass and never found any reference to it from 1859 onwards until later. Very curious why one could not throw the ball aka Rugby so how was it passed besides kicking. Perhaps it was handed to the other team mate in the packs is one theory.
However logically some type of hand pass was utilised one would think.
There are some holes in our early game history story.
 
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RedV3x

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From memory the little kick was a very short pass used mainly in the fwd line so that the goal sneak could get into a better position to kick the goal. so how was it passed besides kicking.
Because it was called the "little mark" it is safe to presume it had to kicked and that is still my impression
but it is more sensible just to have a minimum distance for a marked ball as we do today.
Maybe it was something like a Gaelic "solo" but for improving one's goal angle.

Perhaps it was handed to the other team mate in the packs is one theory.
Since that was banned in 1877 it safe to assume it existed before 1877 and most probably in the packs.
just like we know when the flick pass was banned but we don't know when it it was introduced.
 

Quolls19

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As i posted before, I can’t find any reference to the little kick or the big kick, do know about the goal sneak. Wills was probably the first to utilise a player away from the pack, Brownlow decades later nearly made it a science.
far be it for me to be be presumptive but maybe you were referring to the little mark (which you did mention in your second related post). The little mark was, along with pushing in the back, the most contentious issue in the early days, and later the behinds, match arranging, field placing, player payments and the Marshalls equalisation fund proposal all were major issues.
I do know the history of the little mark, the fors and againsts, the change in rules re distance for a mark, the change in rules “kicked to another player” and the use of hand ball in the early days, and how it wasn’t (up until the middle of the 1880’s) used as we know now it. memory says it was south Melbourne that started it, my memory also tells me that the 1875 “footballer” describes how hand ball worked in those days, but don’t hold me to the dates as I don‘t have access to my records at this time. Hopefully tomorrow when I will post the details and specific references.
 

RedV3x

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Wills was probably the first to utilise a player away from the pack,
Was this because he played Marngrook ?
I would have thought this would have appeared in the experimental games prior to codification.

the history of the little mark, the fors and againsts, the change in rules re distance for a mark, the change in rules “kicked to another player” and the use of hand ball in the early days,.[/QUOTEI

Are not reflected in the rules until after the fact.
 

Quolls19

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Was this because he played Marngrook ?
I would have thought this would have appeared in the experimental games prior to codification.
No.


Quolls19 said:
the history of the little mark, the fors and againsts, the change in rules re distance for a mark, the change in rules “kicked to another player” and the use of hand ball in the early days,.[/QUOTEI

”are not reflected in the rules until after the fact.”

they are reported in the contemporary reporting, by the people who were actually there.
 

RedV3x

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I was being sarcastic but then it is equally possible than Tom Wills did see football opening up due to his time with Marngrook.
At the meeting of codification it was recorded that Tom Wills suggestion were rejected.
"Historians" immediately assume that was rugby rules that was rejected due to Tom Wills connection with rugby
but that makes no sense as everybody knew the rules of rugby and would have recognised them as such.
More modern researchers say that the rejected rules were possibly from Marngrook but Wills didn't want to push the issue for obvious reasons.
It could have been from Gaelic Football that the rules were rejected but again Wills didn't want to push the issue for obvious reasons.

the history of the little mark, the fors and againsts, the change in rules re distance for a mark, the change in rules “kicked to another player” and the use of hand ball in the early days,.
”are not reflected in the rules until after the fact.”
If we accept second hand accounts of the game then you should also accept the second hand accounts of Tom Wills playing Marngrook
 
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Gigantor

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I remember reading about the little kick.
Around the late 1800s, pre-VFL, there must have been a time when a kick didn't have to travel any distance to be called a mark, so there was a period where players would do tiny kicks to each other and claim the mark.
It got so bad, one article of the period said that some marks were paid with the ball barely touching the boot of the original kicker.
 

threenewpadlocks

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I remember reading about the little kick.
Around the late 1800s, pre-VFL, there must have been a time when a kick didn't have to travel any distance to be called a mark, so there was a period where players would do tiny kicks to each other and claim the mark.
It got so bad, one article of the period said that some marks were paid with the ball barely touching the boot of the original kicker.
It was relatively common for longer marks taken deep in the pockets to moved to a better angle for players to successively take the mark a few inches off the boot of their teammates several times in a row. That would have gone down well with opposition fans!
 

The_Wookie

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At the meeting of codification it was recorded that Tom Wills suggestion were rejected.
"Historians" immediately assume that was rugby rules that was rejected due to Tom Wills connection with rugby
but that makes no sense as everybody knew the rules of rugby and would have recognised them as such.
Well that and we eviedntly have a letter from Thompson to Wills (both of whom were present at the drafting in 1859), and from Wills to his brother

Writing to Wills in 1871, Thompson recalled that "the Rugby, Eton, Harrow, and Winchester rules at that time (I think in 1859) came under our consideration, ... we all but unanimously agreed that regulations which suited schoolboys ... would not be patiently tolerated by grown men."The hardness of the playing fields around Melbourne also influenced their thinking. Even Wills, who favoured many rules of Rugby School football, saw the need for compromise. He wrote to his brother Horace: "Rugby was not a game for us, we wanted a winter pastime but men could be harmed if thrown on the ground so we thought differently."
 

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