Wednesday, November 6, 2013

6 November 1869 - Football Goes American

On 6 November 1869, Rutgers beat Princeton in a game of association football that is considered by many to be the first game of American-style football.

Association football had arrived in the United States as early as 1862 with the creation of the Oneida Football Club in Boston, Massachusetts. But the rules of football were still in flux at the time, with the game still using elements that would later evolve into rugby.

The teams (Princeton was then called the College of New Jersey) met at Rutgers' College Field in New Brunswick, where a crowd of 100 people turned up to watch. As hosts, Rutgers got to dictate the rules for the game and chose the ones put forth by the London Football Association.

The match consisted of two teams of twenty-five players each, a round ball, and two goals. The players tried to score by kicking the ball into the opposing goal and were not allowed to use their hands. Each score was called a "game," with the teams playing ten games total. Rutgers scored first and eventually won the contest 6-4.

One week later, they played a rematch under Princeton's rules, which allowed players to catch the ball. Princeton won 8-0. Together, the two games are considered by many historians to be the foundation of American football.

[Photo: "The First Game" by Arnold Friberg]

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