Tudor Times - Football History - 1550-1600

Antonio Scaino, an Italian priest of Tudor times, wrote a book in 1555 'Del Giuoco della Palla' (Treatise on The Game of The Ball) and, in one chapter, describes the game of Football.  He says that it was a game played by scholars.  There were no rules regarding the amount of people in each team, but there were clearly defined Goals at each end of a field.  The players were not allowed to bring any weapons onto the field and that handling the ball was not allowed.  The game started in the middle of the field, with the choice of the first team to kick the ball being drawn by lots.  Antonio says that the best part of the game was to watch "the players falling in great disarray and upside down".  Meanwhile, back in England, St John's College and other colleges in Oxford - and Cambridge University, banned the game.

 In 1576, local councils had also banned the Game of Football, but in Ruislip, around a hundred people revolted and "assembled themselves unlawfully and played a certain unlawful game, called Football".



1572 Harrow School Founded

In 1581, Richard Mulcaster, headmaster of the largest school in England, Merchant Taylors' School, wrote in his 'treatise' on education - "Positions", the earliest reference to small teams playing football, properly organised and with a referee.

In 1583, Philip Stubbs wrote a book, 'The Anatomy of Abuses' and showed concern about the religious aspects of the day - "football playing and other devilish pastimes.. withdraweth us from godliness, either upon the Sabbath or any other day". – and also showed concern about the injuries that were taking place: "sometimes their necks are broken, sometimes their backs, sometimes their legs, sometimes their arms, sometimes one part is thrust out of joint, sometimes the noses gush out with blood... Football encourages envy and hatred... sometimes fighting, murder and a great loss of blood". We can take it that Stubbs was not in the business of engraved football trophies - although he did publish a book in 1591, 'A Christal Glass for Christian Women', of which at least seven editions were called for!

To the contrary, around the same time, the headmaster of Merchant Taylors’ School, wrote about the Game of Football "great helps, both to health and strength". He added that the game "strengtheneth and brawneth the whole body, and by provoking superfluities downward, it dischargeth the head, and upper parts, it is good for the bowels, and to drive the stone and gravel from both the bladder and kidneys".


in 1586, the English navigator John Davis (an explorer for Queen Elizabeth 1st, who discovered the Falklands), commanding 4 ships, was reported to have dispatched his men ashore and played a type of football with the Inuit (Eskimo's).  All went well, until the Inuit's stole one of the ship's anchors...!  He was murdered in 1604, off Bintan Island (near Singapore), by one of his captured "Japanese Pirates", whose vessel he had just seized.

 Later, in 1589, one Hugh Case and William Shurlock were fined 2/= (10p) for playing Football in St. Werburgh’s cemetery, during the vicar’s sermon!  In 1599, a group of men were also fined for playing Football on a Sunday.  How much did Football Awards cost in those religious days, one wonders?



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