Pre-Columbian Americans, Aboriginal Australians, the Ancient Chinese, the Romans, the Vikings, the Celts and many other cultures played ball games long before modern laws were written for different kinds of football in the 19th century.
In this intriguing new book, Mike Roberts explores them all in detail, and draws on the very latest research while re-examining the original sources to dispel a number of myths before tracing the early development of football and similar games in Western Europe, and presenting plenty of surprises along the way!
Sport and history combine to tell a fascinating story as we discover the truth about the medieval folk games that went on to become the modern codes of soccer, rugby union, rugby league, and Gaelic, Australian, American and Canadian football.
Explore this website for a taster of what each of the chapters will tell you:
1. A WHOLE NEW BALL GAME: What is football?
2. SETTING THE BALL ROLLING: Football in prehistory
3. EASTERN PROMISE: Ball games of the ancient Far East
4. THE HIP PARADE: Ball games in Pre-Colombian Central and Caribbean America
5. LITTLE BROTHERS OF WAR: Ball games in Pre-Colombian North America
6. WAY OFF THE MARK?: Ball games of pre-European Oceania
7. STICKS AROUND: The ancient ball games of Southern Asia and the Middle East
8. FOOTBALL CLASSICS: Ball games in ancient Greece and Rome
9: THE ITALIAN JOB: The medieval ball games of Italy
10. FRANCE FOOTBALL: The medieval ball games of France
11. EUROSPORT: Other early forms of football in Europe
12. NORSE CODE: The ball games of the Vikings
13. CELTIC ART: Stickball games of the ancient Celts
14. BANDY ON THE RUN: More on the origins of the hockey codes
15. MIDDLE AGE RELICS: Medieval football in Great Britain
16. RUSTICAL DIVERSIONS: British football in the 17th and 18th centuries
17. PLAY FOR TODAY: British Shrovetide football
18. HIGH SCHOOL BALLS: Early football in British public schools
19. ALL ELLIS BREAKING LOOSE: Rugby School and the origins of rugby
20. GROWN UP BOYS: Football at 19th century universities
21. A QUESTION OF CLASS: 19th century football in the non-academic world