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Football's first ever rulebook goes on display at British Library

A rulebook containing the first codified rules of football, 1863 FA Minute Book, went on display in London today to mark the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Football Association.

sports Updated: Aug 22, 2013 00:23 IST
football rulebook,1863 FA Minute Book,Ebenezer Cobb Morley

A rulebook containing the first codified rules of football went on display in London on Wednesday to mark the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Football Association.

Known as the 1863 FA Minute Book, the volume contains the 13 original laws of the game, including guidelines on the size of the pitch, what happens when the ball goes out of play, and the rules on handling the ball.

Roy Hodgson, manager of the England national team, and FA chairman Greg Dyke presented the artefact to the British Library, where it will go on display to the public.

"Although it is only a small book, the contribution this has made to the modern sport of football is huge," said a British Library spokesman.

"It has shaped the rules of football worldwide. I think people consider that if this book did not exist, the game as we know it would not exist in this form, either."

The book, which is reputedly worth £2.5 million ($3.9 million, 2.9 million euros), was handwritten 150 years ago by Ebenezer Cobb Morley, the first FA secretary.

It has gone on display alongside some of the most famous documents in global history, including the 1215 Magna Carta, the First Folio of British playwright William Shakespeare, and the diary of British explorer Captain Scott.

The FA was formed on October 26, 1863 at the Freemasons' Tavern in central London with the aim of creating a single set of regulations for the game.

The rulebook describes the organisation's early meetings and also documents the creation of the FA Cup, the sport's oldest cup competition, and the arrangement of the first international football match between Scotland and England in 1872.

The book forms the centrepiece of the British Library's first ever football display.

First Published: Aug 21, 2013 18:49 IST