A Brief History of Football (Soccer)

How did the sport originate? This is a popular theory.

It was a crisp autumn day in a quiet Belgian town tucked away in the foothills. The medieval wars were all but done, and the land was returning to prosperous times. The blades of grass were suffering from drought, yet remained playful in the breeze. The children were helping harvest the melon crop in time for the great Hallo's Eve Feast. However, one such lad, one by the name of Jens, had been ambling about with no intention of picking anything. Suddenly, his face was harshly met with the bitter sod, as he had tripped over a suspicious melon. He caught his breath and investigated the accused. It was smaller than a watermelon, but just a bit bigger than an average cantelope. Much to young Jens's surprise, the spots on the rind had grown large and sparse, as if to form a pattern. He cautiously tapped it, hearing no reverberation; it was completely unripe. Yet somehow, he was overcome with the desire to pick it. He severed its umbilical cord promptly using only his teeth. He picked it up and began to make his way back to the square but soon found it easier just to roll it along the ground with an occasional nudge of his shoe.

The other children were delighted at the spectacle of such an unusual fruit. Jens quickly became frustrated by the constant requests to "hold it just for a second". He even had to chase down his chum Hugo, who was attempting to make a break with it. That night, Jens tossed and turned about how to share the melon fairly between his friends and leverage its popularity. Sometime just before falling asleep, he concocted the most ingenious strategy.

"Listen up!" Jens bellowed out in Belgian, "You all want to play with the ball-melon, so that's what we'll do. We'll sit in a circle in the pasture and pass it around, so we can all have a chance to play. The newly formed group unanimously nodded. You could see their glaze of glee on their eyes.

The activity proceeded for quite some time and gradually the game changed. Some would bowl the melon to the next person, others would toss it high in the air, and still others would throw over the back of their head. Interest began to wane, much sooner than Jens had hoped, so he decided to slightly modify the plan. Instead of throwing or rolling it to the next person, he stopped it, stood up, and kicked it gently to a boy with the unfortunate name of CÚlia. Something clicked, or rather snapped, in that boy's head. He leapt up from the ground and dutifully passed it on. On each successive kick, the children pounded harder and harder until finally it slipped through the circle.

Needless to say, the team was shocked. It had rolled a few feet on numerous occasions, but now it was careening off, picking up speed going down the hills. Hugo pursued at max speed. Eventually, the ball slowed and Hugo was caught up with it. It was much too far to send back in one kick, so he proceeded with a series of kicks until back in his place in the circle. Play began again without Hugo, as he was gasping for air. When he rejoined, Jonas tried to once more kick it past Hugo, this time just over his head. Hugo spitefully launched himself up and caught the ball. Hence the goalkeeper was born.

In the coming weeks, months, and years, the game further developed. Teams were made; rules were changed; scoring was added. The original melon actually lasted only two days, but replacements were always discovered. Any substantial smoothened wad would suffice. Occasionally, they would try another melon, but no melon came close to the performance of the original. When Hugo became a blacksmith's apprentice in his teenage years, he made it his first project to forge a proper ball. It was hollow and covered in a tight knit. Using the new ball, the once quiet village hosted its first tournament, inviting all of the strongest farm boys from 20 miles around. The competition was steep, but in the end the boys from the home village prevailed. Hugo had not had a chance to craft a trophy as promised, so Jens returned to the melon patch and picked an odd-looking melon once more and gleefully awarded it to the victors. As they picturesquely raised their prize overhead in triumph, one could not help but notice the sweet smell of the melon harvest.

An alternate history of the sport.