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The 19 Rules Of Playing Football When You're A Kid

From 'rush keeper' to Wembley doubles. Because 'jumpers for goalposts' is only the start of it...

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1. Setting up the goal.


1. Posts

Can be made of anything, preferably clothing or school bags. When the ball comes into contact with the post, a consensus must be reached on whether it was a goal, wide or 'in off' [the post].

2. Cross bar

The exact height varies from goal to goal, decided on a case by case basis. Whether the goalie could have conceivably reached the shot is a useful guideline.

2. Picking teams.


There are two common methods for picking the sides.

1. Captains

The owner of the ball and the best player take turns picking until the worst player is left (feeling a bit like they want to cry).

2. Picking numbers

One player to turn their back while the others are allocated numbers which are then used to randomly* assign teams.

*cheating via coughs, nods or hidden hand gestures is rife in the game.


5. Commentary.

Via http://Getty

Any player is entitled to give a running commentary on their own performance, usually when on a solo dribble. E.g. He takes on one, he takes on two, he shoots! - Ooooooh, it's just wide!

6. Wembley Singles / Doubles

When there are not enough players to make up two teams, individuals or pairs play against each other shooting at one goal. As always, the worst player goes in nets.

Scottish footballer Alex James, Wembley, 1932, Getty


8. Spot / Donkey / other

Via Flickr: wickedboy007

Subject to regional varieties, each player is given a letter as a penalty for failing in the aims of game (often involving hitting a specific tree or wall).

Once 'donkey' (e.g.) has been reached, that player is out (and a donkey).

9. Rush keeper / First man back.

Via Flickr: damongman

When everyone refuses to play in nets, there are two options.

1. Rush keeper

Enables goalies to switch temporarily to an outfield position during the match, including going on solo runs and scoring goals.

2. First man back

Dictates that any outfield play can become the goalkeeper, depending on who gets back to the goal first when defending an attack.


10. No goal mooching / blasting.

Via Flickr: tierecke

Further safe guards for nervous 'keepers can be enforced.

1. No mooching / poaching

A crude variation of the offside rule, this is to prevent lazy players or 'glory hunters' from hanging around the opposition goal waiting for a Lineker-style tap in.

2. No blasting

This rule prevents anyone from kicking the ball with excessive force within a few feet of the goalmouth.