Devised in 1858 by Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest for use by Sheffield FC, formed in 1857, the Sheffield Rules spread quickly in the local area. By the 1870's the Sheffield Rules were the most popular in the north of England and the Midlands.
Although seemingly in competition with the Football Association's Laws of Football, he Sheffield Rules did lend an awful lot to the development of the first inclusive set of the first single set of laws administered by the FA in 1877. It was the Sheffield Rules which introduced the concepts of free kicks for fouls, corners and throw-ins. Perhaps most importantly, the Sheffield Rules were the first set to abolish a fair catch. This lead directly to the practice of heading the ball.
Here are the Sheffield Rules dating from 1858:
- The kick off from the middle must be a place kick.
- Kick out must not be more than 25 yards [23 m] out of goal.
- A fair catch is a catch from any player provided the ball has not touched the ground or has not been thrown from touch and is entitled to a free-kick.
- Charging is fair in case of a place kick (with the exception of a kick off as soon as a player offers to kick) but he may always draw back unless he has actually touched the ball with his foot.
- Pushing with the hands is allowed but no hacking or tripping up is fair under any circumstances whatever.
- No player may be held or pulled over.
- It is not lawful to take the ball off the ground (except in touch) for any purpose whatever.
- The ball may be pushed or hit with the hand, but holding the ball except in the case of a free kick is altogether disallowed.
- A goal must be kicked but not from touch nor by a free kick from a catch.
- A ball in touch is dead, consequently the side that touches it down must bring it to the edge of the touch and throw it straight out from touch.
- Each player must provide himself with a red and dark blue flannel cap, one colour to be worn by each side.