Cobb Morley was born in Hull in 1831. He moved to London where
he worked as a solicitor. He was a keen sportsman and
established Barnes Football Club in 1858.
Morley became captain of the club and in 1863 he wrote a letter
to Bell's Life newspaper proposing a governing body for
football. This letter resulted in a meeting taking place at the
Freeman's Tavern in London in October, 1863. The clubs
represented at the meeting included Barnes, Blackheath, Perceval
House, Kensington School, the War Office, Crystal Palace, Forest
(later known as the Wanderers), the Crusaders and No Names of
Kilburn. Charterhouse also sent an observer to the meeting.
The Football Association was established at this meeting. The
aim of the FA was to establish a single unifying code for
football. As Percy Young, has pointed out, that the FA was a
group of men from the upper echelons of British society: "Men of
prejudice, seeing themselves as patricians, heirs to the
doctrine of leadership and so law-givers by at least semi-divine
Ebenezer Cobb Morley was elected as the secretary of the FA. At
a meeting on 24th November, 1863, Morley presented a draft set
of 23 rules. These were based on an amalgamation of rules played
by public schools, universities and football clubs. This
included provision for running with the ball in the hands if a
catch had been taken "on the full" or on the first bounce.
Players were allowed to "hack the front of the leg" of the
opponent when they were running with the ball. Two of the
proposed rules caused heated debate:
IX. A player shall be entitled to run with the ball towards his
adversaries' goal if he makes a fair catch, or catches the ball
on the first bound; but in case of a fair catch, if he makes his
mark (to take a free kick) he shall not run.
X. If any player shall run with the ball towards his
adversaries' goal, any player on the opposite side shall be at
liberty to charge, hold, trip or hack him, or to wrest the ball
from him, but no player shall be held and hacked at the same
Some members objected to these two rules as they considered them
to be "uncivilized". Others believed that charging, hacking and
tripping were important ingredients of the game. One supporter
of hacking argued that without it "you will do away with the
courage and pluck of the game, and it will be bound to bring
over a lot of Frenchmen who would beat you with a week's
practice." The main defender of hacking was F. W. Campbell, the
representative from Blackheath, who considered this aspect of
the game was vital in developing "masculine toughness". Campbell
added that "hacking is the true football" and he resigned from
the FA when the vote went against him (13-4). He later helped to
form the rival Rugby Football Union. On 8th December, 1863, the
FA published the Laws of Football.
1. The maximum length of the ground shall be 200 yards, the
maximum breadth shall be 100 yards, the length and breadth shall
be marked off with flags; and the goal shall be defined by two
upright posts, eight yards apart, without any tape or bar across
2. A toss for goals shall take place, and the game shall be
commenced by a place kick from the centre of the ground by the
side losing the toss for goals; the other side shall not
approach within 10 yards of the ball until it is kicked off.
3. After a goal is won, the losing side shall be entitled to
kick off, and the two sides shall change goals after each goal
4. A goal shall be won when the ball passes between the
goal-posts or over the space between the goal-posts (at whatever
height), not being thrown, knocked on, or carried.
5. When the ball is in touch, the first player who touches it
shall throw it from the point on the boundary line where it left
the ground in a direction at right angles with the boundary
line, and the ball shall not be in play until it has touched the
6. When a player has kicked the ball, any one of the same side
who is nearer to the opponent's goal line is out of play, and
may not touch the ball himself, nor in any way whatever prevent
any other player from doing so, until he is in play; but no
player is out of play when the ball is kicked off from behind
the goal line.
7. In case the ball goes behind the goal line, if a player on
the side to whom the goal belongs first touches the ball, one of
his side shall he entitled to a free kick from the goal line at
the point opposite the place where the ball shall be touched. If
a player of the opposite side first touches the ball, one of his
side shall be entitled to a free kick at the goal only from a
point 15 yards outside the goal line, opposite the place where
the ball is touched, the opposing side standing within their
goal line until he has had his kick.
8. If a player makes a fair catch, he shall be entitled to a
free kick, providing he claims it by making a mark with his heel
at once; and in order to take such kick he may go back as far as
he pleases, and no player on the opposite side shall advance
beyond his mark until he has kicked.
9. No player shall run with the ball.
10. Neither tripping nor hacking shall be allowed, and no player
shall use his hands to hold or push his adversary.
11. A player shall not be allowed to throw the ball or pass it
to another with his hands.
12. No player shall be allowed to take the ball from the ground
with his hands under any pretence whatever while it is in play.
13. No player shall be allowed to wear projecting nails, iron
plates, or gutta-percha on the soles or heels of his boots.
Ebenezer Cobb Morley held the post of secretary of the Football
Association until 1866. He continued playing for Barnes and in
1866 he scored in the first representative match, between the
clubs of London and Sheffield on 31st March 1866. The following
year he was appointed as president of the FA.
Morley also established the Barnes and Mortlake Regatta for
which he was also secretary (1862-80). He served on the Surrey
County Council for Barnes (1903-19) and was a Justice of the
Ebenezer Cobb Morley died in 1924.