On the eve of the Euro 2016 tournament, Shapero Rare Books offers a first edition of the work that gave the sport its name - ‘Footeball’ - in 1581.
The book, Positions, not only names the game, but also provides the earliest evidence of organised team football. Written by Richard Mulcaster, who was the first Headmaster of Merchant Taylors’ School, the book is arguably the most important work on children’s education in the Elizabethan Age.
Mulcaster is credited with taking the game off the streets, ridding it of some of its unruly aspects and promoting it as a way to build school children’s health and strength. He was the first to write about the need to establish teams, positions and referees.
Several chapters are devoted to the importance of physical education, and mention is also made of the potential for girls to be educated on an equal footing with boys. Other sports covered include wrestling (“wrastling”), fencing (“fensing”), running, swimming, and riding.
The full title of Mulcaster’s book is Positions, Wherein those primitive circumstances be examined, which are necessarie for the training of children, either for skill in their booke, or health in their bodie.
Image: Courtesy of Shapero Rare Books.