1820s in association football
The following are the association football events in the 1820s decade. All events are English unless specified otherwise.
- 1820 – By this time, some form of order is beginning to be imposed on what has for centuries been a chaotic pastime played not so much by teams as by mobs. This form of football, known more politely as "folk football", is essentially a public holiday event, Shrove Tuesday being a traditional day for games across the country. The games are free-for-alls with no holds barred and extremely violent. As for kicking and handling of the ball, it is certain that both means of moving the ball towards the goals are in use.
- 1820s – The public schools begin to devise their own versions, rules of which are verbally agreed and handed down over many years. Each school (e.g., Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Winchester) has its own variations.
- 1823 – The traditional date of the William Webb Ellis legend. He is the Rugby School pupil who, it is said later, “with a fine disregard for the rules of football, took the ball in his hands and ran with it”. Even if the tale is true, the game is a version of folk football with rules that have been verbally agreed by the Rugby School pupils. Such rules are always open to challenge and it may be that an incident like this occurs with the result that a dribbling game becomes primarily a handling one.