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History of Goal Posts

32 B.C.: during the age of Chinese Emperor Ch'eng Ti, bamboo poles were erected with a silken net stretched between to form a goal.

1681: A game was arranged between the servants of the King, and those of the Duke of Albemarle. The doorways of two forts were used as goals, and players attempted to score by driving the ball through one of the doorways.

In the 17th century, a goal consisted of two upright poles with nothing between them. Tape was later introduced, attached to the top of each upright stretching across the width of the goal. Prior to the 1800s, a goal would consist of any fixed object such as houses or trees, at any distance apart, from a few yards to many miles! 
Players were allowed to throw the ball into the goals.

1801: Joseph Strutt describes the composition of a goal structure as:

The goal is usually made with two sticks driven into the ground two or three feet apart.

1832: Uppington School rules:

A goal is scored whenever the ball is forced through the goal and under the bar, except it be thrown by the hand.

1848: The Cambridge rules:

Goal is when the ball is kicked through the flag-posts and under the string.

1861: The Eton rules:

The goal-sticks are to be 7 feet out of the ground and the space between eleven feet. A "goal" is gained when the ball is kicked between them, provided it is not above them.

1863: There is no mention of a bar in the Cambridge University rules:

The goals shall consist of two upright poles at a distance of 15 feet from each other.

A goal is obtained when the ball goes out of the ground by passing between the poles or in such a manner that it would have passed between them had they been of sufficient height.

In other words, because there was no crossbar, there was no height restriction for a goal to be scored.

Goal posts as the world knows them today were originally designed in Britain.


In 1863 the English Football Association decreed that the posts should be 8 yards apart (7.32m), a measurement which has never altered since. Because players often argued whether the ball had gone between the posts (for a goal) or above (no goal), tape was then used to join the tops of the posts (1865).

In 1866 the English Football Association decreed that "The goals shall be upright posts, eight yards apart, with a tape across them, eight feet from the ground".

In 1875 the wooden crossbar started to replace the tape, at a height of 8 feet (2.44m) above the ground.

That is how the dimensions of the goals we know today have evolved. But the shape of the posts and crossbar was another matter.


Round or square-shaped goals were the most common until, in 1920, a Mr. J. C. Perkins of the Standard Goals company in Nottingham, England, invented the much stronger elliptical shape. Nottingham Forest was the first club in the world to try them. Many Scottish clubs stayed with their square designs for many years, but elliptical posts and bars are now the favourite around the world. Though they too can still break.


Until the 1980s, most goals were made from wood. Douglas Fir was often the preferred choice of wood. In recent years, however, much lighter aluminium or steel goals have become more popular, especially with ground staff because maintenance is now a lot easier.

But the goal post has basically remained unchanged for over 125 years.

Adapted from CorshamRef.Net by Julian Carosi

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