Football Lane, HA1

Place Name

Literal this led to Harrow School’s playing fields. Originally these were just paths but as the school developed they eventually became roads in their own right, although the lane was originally straight, continuing to where Music Hill is today. Like many things the school played by its own rules – before and after football’s rules became formalised. Percy Melville Thornton in Harrow School and its Surroundings published in 1885 writes: “Football has been pursued for many years… a heavy ball has been found to be best, because the game does not become so fast as with a smaller and lighter object of pursuit… Of late years a game has been devised in London by an association so-named, who with a light ball agree to abrogate in all its strictness the so-called off-side rule, which means in plain English that a clever loafer near the enemy’s goal may find divers opportunities for dashing fresh into the fray when his intervention may powerfully aid his side.” However, as the rules of the game became more formalised the boys at the school played their game, Harrow football. In this players are allowed to catch the ball, shaped like a giant pork pie, and throw it after a short number of steps. It is played exclusively at Harrow.

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