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See It | Football's Original Rule Book

See It | Football's Original Rule Book

Fans, refs and John Terry can now refresh their knowledge of the rules with this artefact at the new National Football Museum. 

Somewhere in an expensively lit case at Manchester’s snazzy new National Football Museum, which opens this month, is a small leather-bound book that could arguably be the most important item in the building.

The 1863 Minute Book details the first laws of the game, transcribed from the six (possibly not entirely sober) meetings of the newly formed Football Association that took place in October of that year at the Freemasons’ Tavern in London’s Covent Garden.

The rules have changed a bit in the intervening 149 years — there were only 13 of them then, neither referees nor goalkeepers had yet been invented, and the only provision for safety was that players should not have “projecting nails” attached to their boots.

This will be a rare viewing of a footballing artefact that is usually buried away in the FA’s vaults — alongside Nobby Stiles’ original teeth, a vial of Paul Gascoigne’s tears and the last-known strand of Ray Wilkins’ hair — and will be on show for four months after the museum opens.

The National Football Museum, Manchester, opens on 6 July nationalfootballmuseum.com