Jumpers for Goalposts
or, how to play football in the playground or car park
Ideally a FIFA approved size five leather football.
A slightly under-inflated tarmac-scratched one would be traditional, but is not required.
Although i have outlined a few substitutes below, I really don't recommend anything
other than a proper football. The lost enjoyment does not balance out the saving of
a few quid at your local sports shop. The ball is the only part of the equipment that
is really important. Any of the others can be improvised with little impact on the fun
If a proper leather football cannot be found, one of those cheap plastic ones can be
substituted but this will completely change the game;
Plastic footballs curve in the opposite way than expected, have a tendency to stop
dead in mid-air when kicked hard and are much affected by the wind.
If really desperate you could use a coke-can, a ball of parcel tape or something
similar. The ball must be spherical, however. Rugby balls or American Footballs are
absolutely no good unless you want to run in circles and damage your foot. Hard balls
like cricket balls are also out; although, on tarmac a tennis ball can sometimes
If you have access to an actual goal (or goals) -- on a local pitch for example -- then
this is ideal. If not then there are a range of traditional improvisations:
If you are intending to use two goals then it is helpful if they are of a similar size and
if they roughly face each other. If the goal has no height (such as when you are using
items of clothing) then it is generally assumed that the crossbar is at the height
of the goalkeeper's highest reach.
There are many games that can quickly be set up where each player is playing for himself.
Most of these games can be modified to play in pairs or even larger teams but usually if
there is enough players to start building teams, then a proper match would be
The basic rules of football, with very few exceptions, apply to all these games, too.
This includes the rules about handball, fouling, etc. Some rules, however, need some
adjustment to the situation.
These games have one goal, and one goalkeeper. The goalkeeper's role is special in
that he is the only neutral player.
The keeper will begin with the ball and start the game by kicking or throwing it out to the
players. Suggestions of unfair distribution of the ball can be quietened if the keeper
faces the goal (with his back to the players) and throws the ball over his or her
It's pretty unlikely that anyone in their right mind will want to be a referee.
There are three basic ways around this problem. The first is just to forget about it;
you're all friends and it's only a game after all. Any obvious cheating can be sorted
out by general consensus. The other is to use the goalkeeper as referee. He's
perfectly placed to do this as he is theoretically neutral in the game.
The offside rule makes no sense in all-against-all games since there is no
passing. In variations where there are teams it is still unworkable due to odd playing
arena shapes and sizes and the poor view of the referee. A reasonable substitution for
offside is to play a no goalhanging rule. This simply means that players cannot
hang about in the goal-area waiting for stray balls or rebounds. What actually
constitutes goalhanging is a subjective view. Another solution to this problem is to mark out a goal area and have a "no shooting in the area" rule.*
Throw-ins, corners and goal-kicks
Often the play area will not have defined boundaries. One end of the pitch can be
broadly defined as the extension of the goalline. The other boundaries are sometimes
obvious: walls and fences are best. The general rule is just to not go too far away. It
may be helpful, if play is moving a long way away, for the referee to allow the player in
possession to come back towards the goal unhindered by opposition players.
Balls obviously going out of play are usually restarted by the goalkeeper.
Free-kicks and penalties
Free-kicks and penalties given for fouls are usually given to the player
fouled. There is no defined goal area for penalties to be given in and this is up to
the discretion of the referee. If a free-kick is given a long way from goal the referee
may allow the player to take it to himself. In other words, to just start dribbling
from the free-kick position.
If a player is penalized for handball in an important position
the usual solution is for the referee to
award 'penalties all round'. This means that each player (apart from the penalized one)
takes it in turns to take a penalty. There are no rebounds.
Yellow and red cards
Yellow and red cards are a feature not often used in all-against-all
games. If they are, the rules are very variable. A common way of using the is that yellow
card (obviously there is no actual card) is given by the referee to a player as a way of
warning him that he is watching him. There will be no culminative effect like real
football. A red card will be more like a short suspension; a player must sit out
for five minutes, or until the next goal is scored.
n and in
This is the simplest of all-against all games. One player goes in goal and the others
try to score against him. Once any player has scored a predetermined amount of goals,
he becomes the goalkeeper. The game carries on till everyone is bored, or it gets too
dark and you can't see any more.
- The game can be played tackling or passing. Passing is a friendly
version where players tend to try to score elaborate goals in a
- Any number of goals can be the target
- Instead of all-against-all, this can be played in teams.
This game is also known as cuppies or cupsies. The game is organized in rounds.
In each round, players must score a predetermined number of goals to score (which increase
in later rounds) and the last to do so is knocked-out. The increasing number of
knocked-out players sit around smoking and heckling the remaining players.
The best way to clarify the rules is to look at the case of a five player game.
If there are more players simply add more rounds.
- One player is picked as goalkeeper.
- Round One begins. The four players play all-against-all. Each player who
scores is through and sits down. This continues until three of the four
have score. The fourth is knocked out.
- The Semi-final. The three successful players play as before except they
have to score two goals. Again, one is eliminated.
- The Final. The first remaining two players to score three goals
is the champion.
- If a new game is started the first to be eliminated will be the goalkeeper.
- Again, can be played in pairs.
- As a variation to the 'first out is new goalie' rule, the champion gets
to choose the new goalkeeper.
Headers and Volleys
This is a slow game were players conspire against the goalkeeper to score from a
header or a volley. To start with, each player has a score (usually ten) and a
starting goalkeeper is chosen (who usually gets a bonus point for
volunteering. The players contrive to score by chipping the ball to each other
and shooting using only headers or volleys. If a goal is scored, the current
goalkeeper loses a point. If a shot goes wide, over or otherwise out-of-bounds then
the last player to touch it swaps places with and becomes the new goalkeeper.
The rule for half-volleys varies. Either it is ignored with no change in
goalkeeper and no point penalty. Other times it counts as if a non-volley was scored:
a goalkeeper change.
When there are only two players left, the one with the highest score is the winner.
- Headers and volleys is noded seperately with subtly different rules
where players score points instead of the other way round. This
actually seems to make more sense than the way I grew up playing!
- To make the game harder the rule can be changed so that the heads and volleys
must be scored from headed and volleyed passes involving three different
players in the move.
- It is possible to play this in two or more teams who tackle each other whilst
trying to set up volleys between them.
Now, anyone up for a kick-about?
* Thanks to Catchpole for reminding me of this one