A look at the 80 minutes’ rule


December 22, 1915
The new rule regarding matches of eighty minutes’ duration has now had a fairly good trial, and we can without complaint comment upon the change. First I must reiterate that the League’s controllers merit the highest praise in their ability shown to keep the game going during the dark days of December. I confess I could not see how the Lancashire League would manage to play their December games when teams arrived late in September for a 3.30 kick off. But by strategic moves the League fixtures were made so that the close-together teams met during December – “Derby” games being noticeable in the last month’s fixtures. The idea of knocking off five minutes play for each half was a good scheme and prevented the abomination known as the 2.15 kick off – a time generally impossible to players, officials, and spectators.
Now we find players are able to keep a 2.30 kick off, and there is always the opportunity of further saving time by refusing an interval. This interval business has never grappled with as it should have been. There’s been a big danger of football sliding into the same lax faultiness as cricket, wherein intervals become extended. Football has, I suggest, created much favour by its prompt methods. Yet the interval time has been spreading itself to lengths that referees should have curbed. Nowadays intervals are rare, and I note that Manchester United F.C. programme writer deals with the matter and claims the rest that players need or else a further reduction of the 80 minutes’ play to 70. There is much in what he says, and in conservation with a well known local player I find that the teams are very keen on the interval. They say it is “too tall” to ask players to play 80 minutes without a break. They point out that when they were trained to the moment it was a different thing, but nowadays they in to the football ground after grinding away long hours at their laborious work, and, therefore, they are not “built” for 80 minutes’ stiff play without a breather. I know of some of our players who work the night through and then turn up to engage in a tough game. They rush to their work, so soon as the game is over. All these facts points to the need of a refresher of five minutes. What say you of the following comment from the source above named: –

“Once upon a time, as the Christmas books say, the average football scribe took it for granted that a team which had faced the wind in the first half of a game would invariably show up better with the wind behind them after the change of ends. When this journalistic view was falsified by the subsequent proceedings it was usual to read in the reports that so-and-so played no better or even worse in the concluding stages, despite their being assisted by the wind. A more extended acquaintance with football opened the eyes of budding critics to the fact that a buffeting by the wind in the earlier part of game takes more out of a side than can be replaced during the interval, and the losing of the toss in a game between well-matches elevens on a gusty day is now considered a vital factor in the result. The handicap of facing the wind in the first half is bad enough when an interval is taken, but is much worse when the mid-games rest is dispensed with, as was done on Saturday last. In our last issue I heartily supported the League committee for curtailing the time of play to forty minutes each way, and I went so far as to suggest a further cutting down to thirty five minutes per half during December and January. But I expressed doubt of the wisdom of the rule allowing referees to continue the game without an interval, and I ventured to plead for a lopping off of five minutes from each half rather than depriving the men of a much needed break in the game. The vile conditions on Saturday last influenced referees to forgo the half way halt, with the not unexpected result that teams which had faced the gale at the beginning of the game started the second half in a distressed condition, from which many of the men did not recover before the call of time. A breathing space for these men at half time, with the freshening up from a good warm wash and the provision of a mild stimulate, would have found them new men after the interval, and it is asking too much of untrained players to stick a game of 80 minutes’ continuous football is a gale like the one that prevailed on Saturday.”
(Source: Liverpool Echo: December 22, 1915)

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