Friday, May 23, 2008

Our Boot Roots

I think I'll head down to Queen's Park for this event tomorrow:
The date was May 24, 1862 -- Queen Victoria's 43rd birthday.

Half a world away from the Queen's home in London, her loyal subjects decided to hold a birthday celebration in her honour in New Westminster, the three-year-old capital of the four-year-old colony of British Columbia.

New West had only about 500 people at the time, almost half of them Royal Engineers. So they decided on a soccer game between the townspeople and the Engineers, or Sappers.
this Saturday at 3 p.m. at Queen's Park, the Sapperton Rovers will be playing a side of Royal City soccer coaches in 1862-style uniforms, and playing by 1862 rules. (Actually the first official soccer rules were made in 1863, but they've adapted them for the game.)

It should be quite a show. In the 1860s, soccer was still in its infancy, which means it was much like rugby.

There was no forward passing, and you could touch the ball with your hands, although you couldn't catch it or direct it. There was no goalie. The goal was smaller (five yards wide as opposed to today's eight), but had no crossbar -- it was a simple pair of uprights, like in rugby, and you could kick it as high as you wanted, as long as it was judged to be between the posts.

You also didn't always go straight for the goal -- if you could place the ball on the goal line, you got to take it back to the 25-yard line for a free kick, like in rugby.

The game was also rougher. If somebody tried to do some fancy footwork with the ball, you could level him with a shoulder check, like in hockey. Still, the 1863 rules did ban the practice of "shinning," or kicking your opponent in the shins.

New West marks a sports anniversary in style

1 comment:

truepeers said...

Beautiful day, interesting game; if any of the people involved see this, I just want to say thanks.