The Simplest Game

The Simplest Game  (1862) 
by J. C. Thring

Proposed rules of football, published by J. C. ["Charles"] Thring in 1862. According to Thring, he created the rules "as an antidote to the Rugby game, which has unhappily been lately adopted by many clubs", with the aim that "our Universities should adopt this or some similar code of laws".[1]

1. A goal is scored whenever the ball is forced through the goal and under the bar, except it be thrown by hand.

2. Hands may be used only to stop a ball and place it on the ground before the feet.

3. Kicks must be aimed only at the ball.

4. A player may not kick the ball whilst in the air.

5. No tripping up or heel kicking allowed.

6. Whenever a ball is kicked beyond the side flags, it must be returned by the player who kicked it, from the spot it passed the flag line in a straight line towards the middle of the ground.

7. When a ball is kicked behind the line of goal, it shall be kicked off from that line by one of the side whose goal it is.

8. No player may stand within six paces of the kicker when he is kicking off.

9. A player is 'out of play' immediately he is in front of the ball, and must return behind the ball as soon as possible. If the ball is kicked by his own side past a player, he may not touch or kick it, or advance, until one of the other side has first kicked it, or one of his own side, having followed it up, has been able, when in front of him, to kick it.

10. No charging allowed when a player is out of play; that is, immediately the ball is behind him.


  1. Thring (1862), Rules of Football: The Winter Game, London: Hamilton. Reported in Curry, Graham (2001); Football: A Study in Diffusion; Leicester: University of Leicester. p. 61.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1926.

The author died in 1924, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.