Football 135 Years Ago This Week in 1876, Tufts College

September 27, 1876, Wednesday – The Boston Daily Globe


From the enthusiastic manner in which the incoming class has taken hold of foot ball, the College expects it to furnish some good men for our College eleven, and it is hoped that we can put a stronger team into the field this fall than ever before.

According to a custom of the college the Sophomores challenge the Freshmen to some game soon after the beginning of the college year. The Sophomores have already challenged the Freshmen to a game of foot ball, to be played one week from this afternoon, by Tufts’ rules.


Football in California in 1876 and 1893

September 18, 1876, Monday – Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California

A match at foot-ball came off between the Golden Gate and High School Clubs Saturday. Each club won a game.

September, 1893 – Outing Magazine

By John Craig

California has for many years been a paradise for the athlete. Amateur sports each year find a fresh awakening of interest in them in the public mind, and football stands distinctive above all. The climate of the Golden State offers advantages for athletic training perhaps unequaled elsewhere, as out-of-door work can be done in every month of the year, and this is particularly desirable to the men who make up the football elevens.

While the press of the country records from time to time the brilliant intercollegiate games of the East little has been told, outside of the local papers of the section, of the sturdy wearers of the canvas jacket on the Pacific side, although many games have been played there that for exhibitions of strength and skill would compare favorably with the contests on the other slope.

Football on the Pacific slope has not seen many years of life; it is yet in its infancy, and perhaps not more than ten years have seen the game in progress there.

About the first clubs to organize were the Phoenix and Wanderers. These were composed, in the main, of grown men—the Wanderers principally from the English residents—and all their matches were under the Rugby rules.

Some exciting games were played at the old Recreation Grounds, in San Francisco, in the Fall and Winter of 1880-81, the “punting” of Nicholson, captain of the Wanderers, and the “tackling” of Coubrough and Woolrich of the same club, with the clock-work “passing” and the running of Dean and Sime, of the Phoenix team, being the features of these contests. The two last named played together like parts of a machine, one always following a few yards behind the other, each invariably “passing” the ball before or on being “tackled.”

Sime was a wonderful runner, doing 100 yards very close to 10 seconds, and was selected by the Olympic Club of San Francisco, with Belcher and R. B. Haley, for whom a record of 9 4/5 seconds for 100 yards is claimed, to represent that club at the championship games in the East several years ago. Not long after this a number of other clubs entered the field…

The University of California now began to manifest considerable interest in football, and the Merion team soon tried conclusions with the “U.C.s” on the campus at Berkeley, in a game wherein the University team made a wonderful showing. Soon after, they were able to defeat all comers, among them the crack Phoenix team…

The public now began to take great interest in football, for it had found these games full of excitement, and the season of 1886 found five clubs in the field — the University, The Wasps, Orions, Reliance and Law College teams. These organized the California Football League, and for the first time on the Pacific coast the game was played by eleven men instead of fifteen, though at first the intercollegiate rules were not adopted as a whole.

A series of twenty games was played by the league teams in 1886, and they proved to be the greatest treat yet offered to the public in the way of out-door sports.

From 4,000 to 5,000 spectators would fill the grand stand each Saturday at Fourteenth and Centre streets, Oakland, to witness the contests; among the fair sex there was never before on the Pacific coast so much interest manifested in athletic games…

In 1887 another league was organized among younger players than those who formed the teams of the previous season, and was in consequence dubbed the “Little League.” These clubs were, however, not very far behind their predecessors in any particular, and many large audiences witnessed the contests…

Before this time the coast teams had played the half-backs and fullback many yards behind the rush-line, relying on a long pass from the quarter to give them opportunities for gaining headway in going around the “end.” The close play and center-rushing tactics introduced by Tobin soon showed the inferiority of the old-time method, and a game between the San Francisco and University teams resulted in a victory for the former by a score of 44—0. The “long pass” game has never been used on the coast since.

The only team that succeeded in scoring against the victorious Olympics was the eleven of the Leland Stanford, Junior, University — the new university at Palo Alto that has since done so much to develop football and bring it into favor in California.

From: “The Lost Century of American Football

Football on September 11, 1876

September 11, 1876, Monday – The Boston Daily Globe


Notwithstanding the rain this afternoon, the customary match game of foot ball was played between the Sophomores and Freshmen—the classes of ’79 and ’80. Both classes appeared upon the campus at 2 o’clock, being about equal in numbers. The match game was for the best three in five.

The “Freshies” gave the first “warning,” and, contrary to all precedent, kicked the ball over the Sophomores’ goal, after a hotly-contested game, lasting twelve minutes, during which several fouls were made. The success of ’80 was warmly cheered and applauded by the spectators.

The next three warnings were won by the Sophomores, the games occupying respectively twenty-two, five, and sixteen minutes. Although the Sophomores thus got the best three in five, yet the Freshies rightly feel elated over the effective resistance they offered, since usually the Sophomores “walk through” a Freshman class in from one to three minutes in their first match game.

From “The Lost Century of American Football

Football 157 Years Ago – September 8, 1854

September 8, 1854, Wednesday – The New-York Times


We are gratified to learn that the Freshman class just beginning its course at Harvard College is extraordinarily large, numbering, we believe, one hundred and five. Besides these, there have been accessions to the other classes of students admitted to an advanced standing.

The annual foot-ball match upon the Delta took place last evening, the first Monday of the term, in accordance with the time honored custom. The Freshmen were able to muster in such strong force that it was supposed that the almost universal result of their game with the Sophomores might be reversed in this instance: but although they played remarkably well, this proved not to be the case, and they were thrice beaten, as usual.

In the next match the Freshmen were reinforced by the Juniors, (always a favorite class,) and the Sophomores by the Seniors.

The support afforded by the Juniors might perhaps have given victory to the Freshmen this time, but there are in the present Senior class six stalwart men whose vigorous limbs, aided by their associates, carried everything before them, and the result was the same as before. It was universally conceded upon the ground, however, that the Freshmen made a most gallant stand. They contend, of course, to a great disadvantage, not knowing the ground, and scarcely each other.

After the foot-ball playing the students formed a large ring, hand-in-hand, and joined in singing Auld Lang Syne. This, we believe, is a modern feature in the proceedings. Hearty cheers were then given for President Walker, the late President, Mr. Sparks, Professor Felton and others, and for the several classes.

The afternoon was a fine one for the game, and the closing scenes were illuminated by the nearly full moon. While literature and learning flourish at the university, the manly sports are not neglected.

From “The Lost Century of American Football