Not quite the sport that stands today as a cornerstone of British culture, but rather a contact-heavy, particularly violent version of it. Mob Football – as the name quite literally implies – was a form of football in which crowds formed the two teams of players. No positioning or tactics were involved: it was simply a contest of strength to control the ball.
The goals were often on a stretch of land reaching for up to a few miles, and serious injuries – on occasion even death – were all commonplace and accepted as part and parcel of the game. Participants would beat each other for the ball, kicking, shoving, tripping and punching. Unsurprisingly, the high court and Kings of England made to ban the “sport” on several occasions – however, due to the fact that it was often played in rural areas by the peasant population, it was a hard regulation to enforce. Furthermore, the sport was not just played in England – it became popular throughout Europe, and is widely considered to be the origin of modern western football.