Mob football

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Mob football is the name given to some varieties of Mediæval football, which emerged in Europe during the Middle Ages. Mob football distinguished itself from other codes by typically having an unlimited number of players and fairly vague rules. By some accounts, any means could be used to move the ball to a goal, as long as it did not lead to manslaughter or murder. <ref></ref> These early codes of football were forerunners of modern codes of football such as rugby football and association football.

The uncertain origins of these games have attracted explanation by myth and legend. For example, in the United Kingdom, some claim that the games started as a celebration during the 3rd century of the defeat of the Romans.[citation needed] The claim also exists that it was first played with the severed head of a Danish ruler of England who had been deposed.[citation needed]

Whatever their exact orgins may have been, by the Middle Ages these games had generally become annual celebrations and had a tendency to get quite out of hand.<ref></ref>

Mob football would have more resembled a riot than any of its descendants. The sport usually involved groups of men from two connecting villages (or two groups from either end of a singular village) fighting to move a ball from one side to the other. The games were so unruly that royal bans were often placed on the playing of such sport. On 13 April 1314, Edward II of England issued what is believed to be the first royal decree. He prohibited the "hustling over large balls" because of the impact the sport had on the local merchants. His ban was followed by decrees from Edward III of England, Henry IV of England, Henry VI of England and James III of Scotland. The sport was considered to be "un-Christian" for its lack of order.<ref></ref>

Although mob football did not always mean playing the ball with the foot, Geoffrey Chaucer offers a tantalising allusion to the manner in which contemporary ball games may have been played in England. In the Canterbury Tales, (written sometime after 1380) he uses the following line: "rolleth under foot as doth a ball"[1].

Each town or village would have played a slightly different game with rules that were not written down. The events were held on public holidays such as Shrove Tuesday when men would have been given the day off work. The sport can still be witnessed in some parts of the United Kingdom.

Mob football has been imortalised by the writings of William Shakespeare in his Comedy of Errors:

Am I so round with you, as you with me, That like a foot-ball you doe spurne me thus: You spurne me hence, and he will spurne me hither, If I last in this seruice, you must case me in leather.<ref></ref>

[edit] References


[edit] Present day towns playing Mob Football

[edit] External links

Mob football

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