The Rule Book of The FA from 1863 is one of the most important books ever published - according to the writer and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg. Drawing on his recently published work, he explains in the Introduction why this book is one of the Twelve Books that Changed the World (Hodder & Stoughton, April 2006).
Published to coincide with the World Cup in June 2006, this unassuming little book sets out the thirteen original rules as first written down by a group of frustrated former public school men at the Freemason's Tavern in Lincoln's Inn Fields. Every rule is accompanied by images from the hand-written manuscript preserved at The FA which records the first time that anyone put pen to paper and wrote down the fundamental tenets of football, such as the definition of a free kick or the length of a regulation football pitch.
When these rules were originally published, it became possible for everyone, everywhere to play the same game, and it was this that enabled the `beautiful game' to become the worldwide force it is today.
As Sir Bobby Charlton explains in the foreword, the fourteen original rules embody the essence of the game, and instil admiration for the honesty, courage, and skill of its players. These rules have not simply made it possible to play football; they embody its spirit and heritage.
The book is officially endorsed by The FA and supported by a publicity initiative backed by The FA.
Melvyn Bragg has pursued a distinguished career as both a writer and broadcaster, presenting The South Bank Show and Start the Week. Sir Bobby Charlton is a footballing legend and was capped 106 times for England scoring forty-nine times.