In 2017 we probably believe that the standard of refereeing has never been worse. However, in 1891 criticism of referees was rife. The catalyst had been the introduction of a new rule which allowed officials to award a penalty kick for serious foul play within the 12 yard area. Prior to this new rule (the infamous rule 13) convensional free kicks were given which almost always were charged down by defenders. Referees and players alike struggled to come to terms with the new rule, and referees were accused of inconsistency.

In 1891 the Scottish Referee newspaper published some guidelines for referees.

Rule 13, dealing with deliberate fouling, tripping, or handling the ball near goal, that to aid these officials and players interested in Saturday’s cup ties, we direct their personal attention to the following Rules:

  1. Educate yourself ere you try to teach others. Make the rules of the game your special study. If an old player, brush yourself up on them. Much happens on a field you may never have experienced.
  2. Give special attention to off-side and Rule 13.
  3. Off-side occurs when a player, lying out of play (ie with less than three men between him and the goal) plays the ball, or hinders another player from playing it. But a player is this position is not off-side if the ball was last played by an opponent.
  4. Rule 13 gives the referee power to give a foul on any part of the twelve yards’ line against a player who deliberately trips or charges an opponent, or who handles the ball deliberately within the twelve yard limit. A goal may be scored from such a kick without the ball touching any other player but the kicker.
  5. On such a kick being taken the goalkeeper cannot advance more than six yards in a direct line from his goal. All the players but he must retire behind the twelve yards line.
  6. All common fouls, such as accidental hands occurring in the twelve yards’ limit, are to be taken in the ordinary way, and must be claimed for bythe players. The ball in a common foul going through goal must touch a player other the the kicker ere it can be a goal. A player taking a free kick can only play the ball once.
  7. It is not necessary that you should have a Kew-tested chronometer. A reliable lever will do. To keep cool is more difficult than to keep time. For safety make compare clocks with the linesmen before starting, but do not forget that to call half and full time rests on the referee. To aid in keeping time correctly, fix if possible on us even period for the kick off – say, at the quarter or half-part the hour, and fixing in your memory when to stop, proceed with the game.
  8. Inspect the soles of the players before and where necessary warn them of the dangers of rough play. See that goal-pasts, touch flags and six and twelve yard lines are plainly marked off.
  9. The ball must be kicked forward at the start of a tie and not back.
  10. What you do not see in violation of the rules you cannot decide upon. Players must appeal for all points except those which are deliberate.
  11. When you have no occasion to interfere, and players seem likely to stop, shout loudly, “Play on!” This will keep the game going.
  12. Linesmen cannot appeal for fouls or corner kicks. Their duties are simply to determine which side has the throw-in or -kick, subject of course to the referee;s ruling if there be a dispute over their decision.
  13. A ball blown beyond the touch or goal lines is out of play. Then is no offside at a corner kick or common foul kick. A corner ceases when two men play the ball.
  14. Be sure of your charges, and remember it is illegal to charge from any but your home addresses. Never refuse anything but blows
  15. If sent to country teams never mingle with the home players or followers. Keep yourself aloof. Act the Bogey man; it pays best.
  16. Don’t make speeches. Don’t frequent after-dinners or ham and egg teas.
  17. Don’t change your mind; it you give a wrong decision stick to it like a man. Don’t expain your decisions. Don’t put on side and don’t be offside. Don’t linger in midfield when play is at the goal. Don uniform when you can get it. Fast games will make you sweat. Duet argue with anybody; give your decision and be done with it.
  18. Don’t drink drams — one ball is enough for any man to watch. Never respond to the toast of referee or linesman. Don’t go to one place too often; familiarity breeds contempt. Don’t acquire a reputation for foul about. Be fearless in your decision; Care nothing for censure or popularity.
  19. Give Mr M’Dowall timely notice if you cannot comply with his request to officiate.
  20. Never be influenced in your decisions by personal considerations, the clamour of the crowd, or appeals from players. Act independently, and you will silence criticism and command respect.
  21. Give your decisions promptly, and, once given, never alter or explain them away. Remember your decision is final on points of play in progress. Leave the Association to interpret the rules.
  22. Maintain your judicial character during your intercourse with the two teams whether on or off the field.
  23. Act with dignity, courtesy, and tact.
  24. Never forget that you are the official representative of the Association, on whose support you can rely.
  25. Paste these rules in your diary, act up to them, and you will be a model referee.

Pitch markings needed to be updated in 1891 to help referees judge whether penalties should be awarded or not. Previously only boundary marking at the endge of the pitch were used.

The diagram is from the 1905 Book of Football.

The diagram is from the 1905 Book of Football.


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