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Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 1:17 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
I'd like to have a go at making and playing a game of 15th century football at an event next year. I get bored easily and think it'd be fun-even if it got broken up by camp provosts for becoming unruely or distracting good folk from their archery practice. Anyone have any idea wher i might find details about size of ball, rules etc?

Re: Football.

Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 4:16 pm
by James The Archer
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:I'd like to have a go at making and playing a game of 15th century football at an event next year. ... Anyone have any idea wher i might find details about size of ball, rules etc?

WHAT RULES? keep the ball & score after that don't kill anyone

Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 4:48 pm
by Colin Middleton
Apparently KIBS used to play medieval football. The ball was made of sacking (instead of a pigs bladder), with a 'tail' on it, which lets you grab hold. The rules were: No weapons, No armour, Goals are that post and that post, Don't hurt the public, We finish when XXX.

We eventually stopped because it was causing too many injuries.

Best of luck.

Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 6:50 pm
by craig1459
The Savile kids play medieval football - it's a stuffed leather sack IIRC

Posted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 1:09 pm
by Chris, yclept John Barber
The KIBS version used to be a fun interlude which was announced to the public as having 'only one rule - no weapons!' Upon which announcement, everyone drops the weapons they have secreted about their persons. (Incidentally, boots counted as weapons - everyone was required to play barefoot.)

We'd put a bill in either end of the pitch as goalposts, and we had a 'ball' which was a sack full of leather with the upper half tied up to form a handle, and made throwing a pass easier. Goals were scored by touching the ball to the bill.

As each game developed, we introduced 'new' rules - 'You're not allowed to pick the goalposts up and bring them to the ball!' 'It doesn't count if a player on the other side has the ball and you pick him up and carry him to his own goal.' 'When the ball disappears under a static lump of bodies the referee can stop the game and re-throw the ball.'

Each of the rules make the game more practical, but we 'forgot' them for comedy effect every time we started a new game, so that the public could see the things we had to 'invent' rules for.

Best moment ever seen in one of our games was in one we ran for a Fed battle at Lincoln Castle. If you know it, you can imagine the scene: the grassy area is a couple of feet higher than the road leading through the site. So we placed the goalposts and warned the public that there were no rules. They lined up along the road to watch the match. Of course, it never occurred to them that 'no rules' means 'no edge to the pitch'.

Comes the moment when a player is about to be pounded by the opposition, and the only way to throw the ball closer to the goal is diagonally forward - behind the crowd.

A charging mass of screaming re-enactors follow it, with me running about fourth and slightly to the left of the leaders. Consternation on the faces of the public when they realised where that flying wedge was about to go...

A great scramble ensued to get out of our way. As the last visible spectator cleared the way, the one in the wheelchair was revealed...

The leading re-enactor, with the help of that two-foot drop to the road, made a great flying leap. Without breaking stride, he went over the head of the chair-using spectator. Everyone else swerved to pass around her, and the game went on without interruption.

Posted: Fri Aug 29, 2008 7:25 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
Is there any chance you might be able to bring along said ball in order to give me an idea of dimensions etc. I'll be at Blore omae.

Posted: Tue Sep 02, 2008 12:44 pm
by Chris, yclept John Barber
I haven't seen it for a few years - I think it may have been lost while moving the Society's kit to a new lockup.

But it was a nut-sack from the dried fruit & nuts stall in the local market, tightly-woven hessian, maybe 15" wide and 24" long when empty. The bottom end (about 8" worth) was stuffed with scraps and off-cuts of leather (gave it a bit more heft than the cloth we originally tried, so it had the mass to fly better) so that it was about 12" wide and 3-4" thick.

The rest of the sack was then twisted up into a neck and bound up with twine, which gave a good 'handle' maybe a foot long.

It lasted several years through some really rough games, so its durability was quite impressive - I suspect that depends on the quality of the sack you use. Hessian gives better grabability than cloth, by the way, so I would advise against using canvas or linen.

Posted: Tue Sep 02, 2008 12:49 pm
by Allan Harley
I know this is gonna end in tears but should be fun to watch :twisted:

Posted: Tue Sep 02, 2008 2:44 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
'Ave it son!

Posted: Tue Sep 02, 2008 7:19 pm
by Cathryne
Ooooo so many fond memories of playing "Football".... *sigh* The rules were ("when I were a lad") 2 teams, 2 goals, 1 ball and no rules. :shock: Also we used to use randon trees, shields, castles etc as the goals over a large-ish undefined playing area. I've got a sneaky suspicion (?spelling :oops: ) that his gracious majesty King Edward IV banned the sport for ruining archery practice but I can't for the life of me find the reference. :roll:
Good Luck and please notify the local A&E to expect multiple casualties when next you play!

Posted: Tue Sep 02, 2008 7:20 pm
by Phil the Grips
I have a wooden rugby ball somewhere- it leaves dents in armour...

Seeing as your persona is Italian than you could try to introduce Italian bridge fighting for lots of cool fun :)

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2008 1:28 am
by behanner
If you want to do this somewhat correctly you should find the articles on medieval football written by F P Magoun jr. They were also combined into a book. If you can find a university with Jstor at it I believe some of them are in journals on there.

Interestingly enough there are already mentions by the end of the 15th century of Football being played with feet alone. I'll post the quote tomorrow. But basically you need a pigs bladder or something to pretend to be a pigs bladder. Fill it with air, you can put a couple peas in it if you want it to make noise. There are football from before pigs bladders stopped being used so you could get the dimensions of those as well.

Posted: Sat Sep 06, 2008 10:49 pm
by behanner
From the Miracles of Henry VI

The game at which they had met for common recreation is called by some the foot-ball game. It is one in which young men, in country sport, propel a huge ball not by throwing it into the air but by striking and rolling it along the ground, and that not with their hands but with their feet. A game, I say, abominable enough, and, in my judgement at least, more common, undignified, and worthless than any other kind of game, rarely ending but with some loss, accident, or disadvantage to the players themselves. What then? The boundaries has been marked and the game had started; and, when they were striving manfully, kicking in opposite directions, and our hero had thrown himself into the midst of the fray, on of his fellows, whose name I know not, came up against him from in front and kicked him by misadventure, missing his aim at the ball.

Posted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 11:10 am
by David F
Try the Smith Art Gallery and Musuim in Striling for the oldest known surviving football in the world. It's about 11 inches across, made of leather and inflated with a pigs bladder inside.
It was fund in the Princes tower of Stirling Castle which was the royal nursery, dated to about 1540.
We actually have a record of Mary Queen of Scots, 4 years old, kicking a football in the palace at Stirling, using her guards as goalposts!
(That was in 1546 to be really pendantic.)
You'll get a photie on

By the way, when it came to controling the sport, Scotland led the way.
It was banned by act of King James 1st in 1429, as it was interupting archery practice, that law is still on the statute books today!

Posted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 12:14 pm
by Merlon.
Edward III banned it in England in 1363......

Posted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 2:31 pm
by craig1459
Marcus - Bohemians Prague v Vatican City - the Oldest Firm? See you on the field :wink:


Posted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 8:10 am
by Frodo
We played it at lanark but the whole ball idea seemed a tad too much effort so used a 6 foot high fence post instead... not too much kicking but did lead to a fun game...

Posted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 11:55 am
by Langley
There we were at Cosmeston. End of the day. Public had gone home. siitting in camp Fraoch in hand. Someone starts a game of Mediaeval football with a ball of leater about the dimensions of the onbe described above. (The Gloucesters have one by the way). I look at Meles, he looks at me. One of us said. "Shall we call the ambulance now to save time later?" Didn't even have time to laugh before the loud crack from the pile of bodies in the middle of the field. Mediaeval footie is more dangerous than the fighting...