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The evolution of football from 1863 to 1897

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-05-12 12:26:55

Data providers: Isaque Argolo.
This article below was published, more precisely on 12/04/1897, right after the exceptional battle, for the FA Cup final 1897, between then two of the greatest teams of all time: Aston Villa F.C. & Everton F.C. More precisely, the unknown author commented on the origin and evolution of football within the four lines, from the styles of playing the game to the tactics which eventually changed with time.
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The formation of the Football Association in 1863 was the first attempt to legislate for the game, and the original code was formulated. During the thirty-four years that have elapse there has been quite a new devolpment, and many of the objectionable features that characterised the game have disappeared. Force and strength that were considered necessary then have given place to a more scientific propulsion of the ball, and the primitive methods of years agone would contrast strangely with the modern system.
Previous to 1863 the Sheffield Club was probably the only organised team of players that played regularly. The game was in vogue at Charterhouse and Westminster Schools, but as then played has nothing in common with the present day methods.
In 1871/72 the Association Cup was formulated. Eleven clubs attended the meeting which saw the foundation of the Cup, a competition that now takes precedence of all others in the Association game. Although the lateness of the season prevented distant teams from taking part in the competition there were sixteen clubs who opposed each other for the first possession of the Cup. One of the Northern teams was the Queen's Park Club, the celebrated Spiders of Glasgow, and who have played a most prominent part in the development of the game.
The original draft of rules was a mutual blend of the different games as then played at our principal public schools. As regards the laws of the game, during the last quarter of a century the alterations have been chiefly in detail, whilst the main principles remain intact. In the formation of the field and the means to and end employed by the players, however, some striking changes occured.
In the primitive days only one back was played, one half-back, and eight forwards. Combination was then quite unknown. The method of attack was for one forward, who was fortunate enough to secure the ball, to try and break through all opposition and score. If by mischance he lost the ball one of his own side would try and remedy the fault whereby the other failed, as the forwards never thought of passing one to another as in present days. The first change in these methods was the addition of a second full-back, and this was followed by a second half-back when the advisability of strenghtning the defence became to be recognised, leaving six forwards for the attack.
Naturally, as the game developed, players became less individual in their efforts, and passing amongst the forwards was effected, both in England and Scotland, simultaneously, and the dribbling, as it was called, was a pronounced success. In the old days, players had no system, they rushed wildly all over the field, but the better organised methods were speedily recognised, and the merging of the individual into the team with one object in the result. The principle now in all teams with the line of attack is to get the ball into position in front of goal for shooting, and it is a matter of indifference who puts in the final kick. Two distinct styles of play, however, now characterise the Association game.
There is the professional style of short, accurate passing, and the amateur system of long passes, a sharp follow, and trusting to their long shots to bring about a successful score. The growth of the game in popularity during the last quarter of a century is unparalelled, as a comparison with the game of then and the remarkable gathering of Saturday last will fully demonstrate.