Penalty Kick

William McCrum

In 1890, Mr. William McCrum, who owned Milford House after his father’s death, gave football the penalty kick rule, arguably world sports’ most dramatic rule.

McCrum’s idea for penalising foul play around goalmouths rocked the Victorian establishment that ran football. The English FA regarded it as a contradiction in terms: "only gentlemen played soccer and gentlemen didn’t cheat" - while the press angrily condemned the “Irishman’s motion” as a “death sentence” for the game.

Although an Irish league founder and one of their key administrators, the young goalkeeper got little or no credit and the penalty rule passed into history as a happy accident. But then who could have foretold just how important the kick would become, going on to decide the outcome of some of the world’s greatest cup competitions.

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