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Rules of Harrow Football

Harrow Football is a gentleman’s game. Ideally, there are no penalties and the game is never stopped, if it can be helped, while the ball is in play. Rules must therefore be kept for the sake of conscience, and the benefit of the doubt is habitually given to the opposition. If you inadvertently break a rule, e.g. by playing offside or handling the ball when it is not a catch, stand away at once. However, if a player gains an advantage from inadvertently breaking a rule, the game may be stopped and redress made.

TOSS - The choice of bases is determined by the toss of a coin: the side that wins the toss must choose his base; the side that loses has the right to kick off.

KICK-OFF - The ball must be kicked off from the middle of the ground, half way between the two bases. A base may not be obtained unless the ball has touched one of the opposite team to the kicker before passing the base poles. Ends shall be changed at half-time. The sides shall kick off alternately throughout the match. Yards may be taken from a kick-off.

BASE – A base is scored when the ball crosses the base line between the posts, either in the air or along the ground. A base may be scored either from open play or from Yards. A base may not be scored directly from a throw-in or base kick, unless the ball touches another player (of either side) before entering the base, or directly from the kick-off.

POLER - If the ball strikes the base pole and goes through, it shall count as a base, but if, in the opinion of the Umpire, it passed over the pole, it shall not count as a base.

OFFSIDE - When a player  plays the ball with any part of his body, all members of his team in front of the ball are offside. They may not go ahead of the man with the ball and barge or obstruct opponents nor can they be put ‘onside’ by the kicker running past them; they may take no part in the game until the ball touches an opponent. A player is always onside from a throw, a base kick or a corner.

OUT OF PLAY - A base is scored, or the ball is out of play,  if its centre crosses the base or touch line.

TAKING YARDS - The ball may be caught by a player in an onside position, if it has not touched the ground since it was kicked by the foot, or the leg below the knee. This rule does not apply to a base kick. Yards may be taken from a kick regardless of the number of players or the part of the body it touches, provided that the catcher is onside.

YARDS - Whoever catches the ball and calls ‘Yards’ is entitled to a free kick preceded by a run-up of three Yards. Three Yards, a distance of three running strides, is equivalent to six yards. If the catcher does not call Yards, opponents are entitled to knock the ball out of his hands.

STAY AWAY! - When a player takes and calls Yards, the opponents must immediately clear Three Yards (i.e; a distance of six yards) in front of him and not attempt to impede his forward progress. They may stand to the Yard-taker’s side and prevent a transfer.

TEN YARD PENALTY - When a player is deliberately obstructed from running his Three Yards, the Yards will be advanced ten yards in the direction of the baseline (not the base).

PACING OUT YARDS - When a player catches the ball, he may take his Three Yards or each of them in any direction he likes, but the ball must be kicked in the direction of the third stride. If his third stride is in a different direction, he must take a stationary kick from the point at the end of his second stride. His opponents may stand one yard away, but not nearer.

THE WALL - Following the pacing out of Yards, opponents may form a wall at the point where the third pace ends. They may not raise their hands above the level of their heads and may not move or jump whilst the kick is being taken. A player must not kick the ball deliberately against the wall; the penalty for this is a base kick or throw.

TRANSFER OF YARDS - After taking Yards, a player may kick the ball to another player on his side (provided that that player is onside) if the transfer is done immediately. Once a player has indicated his intention of taking the kick himself (in the opinion of the Umpire), the opportunity to transfer ceases.

RUNNING A BASE - If a player catches the ball near the opposite base, he may try to carry the ball through by running the Three Yards. If he fails, no second attempt is allowed, but he must return to the spot where he caught the ball and, from there, may have a free kick at the base.

USE OF HANDS AND ARMS - Arms must be kept to the side at all times (especially at throw-ins and when barging), except when attempting to take or knock down Yards or on occasions when a player could legitimately handle the ball (for example into or away from the base). In particular, raised elbows when ‘fouling’ the ball (i.e. playing the ball with the shoulder) constitutes dangerous play.

TURTLE - No player may fall on, or sit on, the ball, or hold it between his knees.

BACK-HEELING - Back-heeling (kicking the ball backwards with the heel) is not permitted.

LIFTING - Lifting of players is not permitted under any circumstances.

THROW-IN - If the ball goes out of play, it must be thrown in again (to a distance of  at least six yards from the thrower) by one of the opposite side to the player who last touched the ball. His throw may be made in any direction, but may not obtain a base unless the ball has previously touched one of the players. The thrower must have one foot off the pitch and, after making the throw, he may not touch the ball until it has been touched by one of the other players. If it is unclear which side conceded the throw, the Umpire may order a straight throw (i.e. perpendicular to the touch line) to be taken by the defending side.

BASE KICK - If the ball passes over the baseline after last being touched by one of the attacking side, a base kick is awarded. A base kick must be taken at the point at which the ball crossed the line and the kicker may take a run-up of Three Yards from the baseline. The kicker may not touch the ball again until it has been touched by another player.

CORNER - If the ball passes over the line after last being touched by one of the defending side, the ball is returned to play by a throw (taken by an attacker) at the point at which the ball crossed the line. The throw must be straight in and of at least two yards in length. The thrower must not touch the ball again until it has been touched by another player.

CHARGING (also known as FOULING) - All barging or charging with the shoulder, other than in the back, is fair but no holding, pushing with the hands, or tripping is allowed.

UMPIRES - There should, if possible, be two Umpires in all matches. Each is primarily responsible for one end and one side of the ground. They therefore stand diagonally on the field of play. It is the duty of the Umpires to take away a base or Yards unfairly obtained, to award them if clearly and undoubtedly obtained, or stopped by unfair means, and to put out of the game any player wilfully breaking any of the rules.

PENALTIES - When a player infringes the rules and gains an advantage therefrom, he may be penalised by the award of a throw or a base kick to the opponents, or a bounce - except as provided for elsewhere – at the discretion of the Umpire.

SUSPENSION - Players who persistently infringe the rules may, at the Umpire’s discretion, be sent off the field (behind their team’s base-line) for up to ten minutes.

SENT OFF - A player guilty of violent play or offensive conduct may be permanently sent off.

PENALTY BASE - Where an infringement of the rules prevents the strong probability or certainty of a base being scored, a penalty base may be awarded. This is most likely to occur when a ball going into the base is handled by a defender after it has touched the ground or when a player illegally challenges an attacker who has a very good chance of scoring.

SUBSTITUTES - A team may have two nominated substitutes. A player who has been substituted may not play again in that match. Any player who is bleeding must leave the field for treatment and may be temporarily replaced until the bleeding stops.

BOOTS and GUARDS - Boots must not have dangerous studs. Shin guards and mouth guards must be worn by all players.

NEUTRAL RE-STARTS - The Umpire may re-start the game after a stoppage with a bounce or straight throw-in.

END OF GAME - If a player takes Yards just before time or half-time, he shall be allowed his kick, and the game shall continue until the ball either goes out or is kicked by another player.