Visit the pub in London where football was created

Table of Contents

Freemasons Arms
Freemasons Arms (2019)

As most people already know, many sports were invented in the UK. Some of them are Football, Basketball, Rugby, Tennis, Cricket, Golf, Volleyball, Hockey and Curling.

It is not always clear the exact date and inventor, as some sports were played similarly in multiple countries at the same time. So most of the times the date is selected based on an important event, such as the formation of a club or the first match or an association, and the main actor of this event is considered the inventor.

This is the case for the most popular sport in the World, Football.

Football (actually, a ball game primarily controlling a ball with your feet and not your hands)  was played for hundreds of years by English, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Ancient Greek, Persian and Viking. [source]

But back in 1863, there were a number of issues around the Football rules. Kicking your opponent, using your hands, the pitch dimensions, and other considerations were part of a heated debate.

The old Freemason’s Tavern in Covent Garden, London (Photo: The FA)
The old Freemason’s Tavern in Covent Garden, London (Photo: The FA)

The lack of a common set of rules was clear, which led Ebenezer Cobb Morley to write to a popular newspaper of the day, Bell’s Life, suggesting that football should have a set of rules in the way the MCC did for cricket. Their aim was to form “an Association with the object of establishing a definite code of rules for the regulation of the game”. [source]

His letter invited thirteen clubs to meet on the evening of Monday, 26th October 1863 at the Freemason’s Tavern in Great Queen Street, Covent Garden, London.

And after six meetings, the Football Association (and modern football) was created and its rules were set. (The FA ‘Minute Book’, i.e, Morley’s hand-written first draft for the 13 laws of association football is now estimated to be worth more than £1 million)

Ebenezer Cobb Morley was a solicitor by profession and captain of Barnes Football Club that he formed in 1858, and is now regarded as the father of the Football Association and modern football.

Freemasons Arms
Freemasons Arms. 

Visit the pub

The Freemason’s Tavern is now called Freemason’s Arms, and it is still located in the same place in Covent Garden, London (see map below).

The closest underground stations are Covent Garden and Holborn, but Leicester Square and Picadilly Circus are also quite close, so any visit to the city centre is a good excuse to visit the pub.

However; the pub is not consolidated as a popular tourist destination, and you will only find a framed letter on the wall (see picture above), with a copy of one of Ebenezer Cobb Morley’s letters. Some people may think that there should be a distinctive and unique plaque, a huge statue, or even a museum, but that’s not the case. Nonetheless, for some football or history fans, it is worth a visit.

Google Doodle

Last year (2018) Google celebrated Ebenezer Cobb Morley’s 187th birthday with a doodle, as you can see in the video below.

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