Historic 'foot-ball' rulebook found

  • Published
Foot Ball Club rules 1833
Image caption,
The rules featured a ban on tripping although pushing was allowed

The founder of the earliest recorded football club wrote down rules for the game decades before the formation of the Scottish or English Football Associations, documents show.

John Hope established the Foot-Ball Club of Edinburgh in 1824.

Hundreds of papers newly digitised by the National Records of Scotland include his notebook containing six rules of the game.

Among them are a ban on tripping and a specified area for goalposts.

The Scottish Football Association was not formed until 1873 while its English counterpart was created 10 years earlier.

Although the game detailed in Hope's notebook differs from modern football, researchers believe the club and its members marked a significant episode in its development.

'Same principles'

Andy Mitchell, who is working with John Hutchinson on a detailed history of the club, believes law student John Hope has not been given enough credit by historians for his contribution to the development of football.

He said: "A highlight of his football club papers are the rules he wrote in 1833 which, although simple, indicate a kicking game between sides, with a defined playing surface and goals.

Image caption,
John Hope was a law student who set up the club in 1824

"They predate the Cambridge Rules of 1848, which are generally seen as the earliest attempt at codification, but contain many of the same principles."

Mr Mitchell said the club was also instrumental in the impact it had on subsequent generations.

He cites two men who were related to two of the club's original members and went on to play for Scotland.

James Kirkpatrick, an FA Cup winner with Wanderers in 1877 and captain of Scotland in the first unofficial football international of 1870, was son of Charles Sharpe Kirkpatrick, a member of the Foot-Ball Club in 1831.

Also, Francis Moncreiff, who captained Scotland in the first international rugby match against England in 1871, was the son of James Moncreiff, who was a member of the Foot-Ball Club in 1832.

Mr Mitchell said: "Thanks to this analysis, we can now demonstrate that this was not just a quirky, historically-isolated football club for gentlemen in one particular city, but one which spawned a close-knit web of interests and relationships which had a significant influence on the early and long-term development of the game of football, and on Scottish society in general."