Football: writing history

I saw a post on another blog about the sale of Sheffield FC’s manuscript rules of the game and comparing it with the price raised by the Jane Austen manuscript.
The BBC report of the auction of an old set of rules by Sheffield FC appears to be contradicted by other sources of information.
It is not disputed that modern association football is descended from rules drawn up by Cambridge University Football club. The 1848 original is lost, but a copy from 1856 is, it appears, in the library at Shrewsbury School. 
The 1848 Cambridge rules evolved into the 1863 edition, that were pretty close to the first official Football Association rules. The Sheffield Rules were another contributing stream, but not the only one.

The version auctioned is from 1857. So it is not, as claimed, the oldest surviving rules.

(This is to ignore that the rules have changed significantly since then anyway.)

The fact that FIFA and the FA still insist that Sheffield is older than Cambridge University Football Club has more to do with wanting a narrative for the sport than any historical accuracy: it is better for an industrial northern town to be the oldest team than an elite educational establishment.

(I will admit as Cambridge resident to a certain bias.)

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Filed under bbc, Cambridge, cambridge university, football, football history, history, sheffield

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