Handling Outside the Area

I certainly didn’t know this, and you may not either, but until 1912 goalkeepers were allowed to handle the ball anywhere inside their own half. It was only subsequent to that that handling by keepers was restricted to their own penalty area. (Handling doesn’t mean carrying in either instance – which is why keepers in “Mitchell and Kenyon” spend their time bouncing the ball and looking genuinely absurd as they do).

The law change was a response to just about the only man to take advantage of the own-half arrangements, Welsh international goalkeeper Leigh Roose. We’ve met Roose here before, as an amateur of the “middle” middle classes with an upper middle class lifestyle who nevertheless played league football at the highest level. If you follow the link, we now find him pioneering the Grobelaar/Dudek wobbly knees penalty technique.. and receiving rather different treatment for his pains.

Then as now, goalkeepers who came out of their areas were vulnerable to quick counterattacks, and Roose’s colleagues explained his tactical isolation in those terms: he had the skill and the courage in an era possessed perhaps of only two or three keepers of anything like modern standard.

He appears in the Mitchell/Kenyon film of Ireland v Scotland, reputedly the first international to be filmed. Unfortunately this is not one of the many the BFI have chosen to Youtube.


5 Replies to “Handling Outside the Area”

  1. Some fellow, Roose. I see that he “bought it” in the First World War. Alex Massie’s blog carried this a wee while back:-
    “On 13 April, the last Saturday of the 1913-14 season, London Scottish 1st XV beat Blackheath on a day when the club fielded a further three XVs, a total of 60 players. Of those, 45 died in the war.”

  2. On reflection, I’m not quite sure that I believe that 45/60 figure. Could someone have misinterpreted “casualties” as deaths?

  3. On the contrary, I can believe it – it has an outlier quality to it, but that would not be an outrageous figure to compare with the experience of the Pals or Artists regiments. Officers suffered disproportionate casualties, as five mins in any Oxford or Cambridge college chapel reveals…

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