British Library displays The Football Association's 1863 Minute Book

Roy Hodgson and Greg Dyke looking at 1863 FA Minute Book (c) Getty Images / Football Association

  • Wednesday 21 August - 17 December 2013

The British Library today announces that the 1863 FA Minute Book, valued at £2.5 million, forms the centrepiece of its first ever football display marking the 150th anniversary of The Football Association.

Handwritten and compiled 150 years ago by Ebenezer Cobb Morley, the 1863 FA Minute Book, containing the 13 original laws of football, goes on display in the Sir John Ritblat Treasures Gallery alongside some of the world’s most significant books including the Magna Carta, Shakespeare’s First Folio and Captain Scott’s diary.

The Football Association formed on 26th October 1863 at the Freemasons’ Tavern in London with the aim of creating a single set of regulations for playing the game. The 1863 FA Minute Book documents these historically important meetings as well as recording the establishment of the world’s oldest cup competition, The FA Cup, and the organisation of the first international football match. It is the most significant book in the history of football, now played and watched by billions across the world.

Jude England, Head of Social Sciences at the British Library said, “We’re delighted to display the iconic FA Minute Book alongside our treasures of the Library’s collections. Exploring football history through the minute book and quirky football artefacts drawn from our archive, this display is be our first on British football and a fantastic opportunity for visitors to the Library from the UK and around the world to celebrate 150 years of Association Football.”

Greg Dyke, Chairman of The Football Association comments, “The importance of the 1863 FA Minute Book cannot be underestimated. Without it, quite simply, the world would be without its most popular sport. As The FA approaches its 150th birthday, it is fitting that the book is going on display in the Sir John Ritblat Treasures Gallery at the British Library. This not only reflects how football has become interwoven into the fabric of our society, it also offers the public a glimpse into the origins of the nation’s favourite game”

The British Library football exhibition also includes a Guide to Referees from the 1930s complete with 20 diagrams explaining the offside rule, an early twentieth century book including advice on the football temperament and a pocket guide for spectators on the interpretation of the rules.

From humble beginnings The FA now helps to support seven million people playing the game at grassroots level across the country, right the way through to the elite level of 24 England teams.

To find out more about the 1863 FA Minute Book and The FA’s 150th anniversary please visit www.thefa.com

The exhibition is accopmanied by a special event You are the Ref, a lively interactive celebration of the quirks and complexities of the game with celebrated sports artist, the remarkable Paul Trevillion - creator of the long running You Are The Ref strips – and his long-term collaborator, former head of Premier League referees, Keith Hackett. Plus special guests, former England, Tottenham and Fulham captain Alan Mullery, and one of the most illustrious names in British women’s football Sue Lopez. The event will be hosted by Caroline Barker of BBC Radio 5 Live.

Notes to Editors:

For further information or visuals, please contact The FA team at Mischief PR on T: 0203 128 6500 / E: simon.bristow@mischiefpr.com or 020 3128 6577 / hannah.milne@mischiefpr.com or 020 3128 6542 / thefa@mischiefpr.com


OREvie Jeffreys at the British Library on T: 020 7412 7105 / E: evie.jeffreys@bl.uk

About FA150 – supporting football since 1863

Supporting football since 1863

The FA is the not-for-profit, governing body of football in England. It grows participation, promotes diversity and regulates the sport for everyone to enjoy.

Seven million players of all ages, 400,000 volunteers, 300,000 coaches and 27,000 qualified referees help The FA keep the grassroots game going.

The FA runs 24 England teams, across men’s, women’s, youth and disability football, utilising the world-class facilities of Wembley Stadium and St. George’s Park.

Football is the nation’s favourite game. The FA aims to grow it further in 2013.

To find out more about events in The Football Association’s 150th year, and to get involved in football, visit www.TheFA.com and follow @FA.

For more information contact:


The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.  



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