First Studded Football Boots: A History

Going in ‘studs up’ is one of the unforgivable footballing sins. “Could’ve ended his career,” one pundit will say. “Absolutely ridiculous,” the other will reply, light bouncing off his halo.

Thankfully, a true career-ending tackle is rare.

But, if you’ve played football at any level, you’ll know the pain of receiving a studs-up challenge.

That initial hit. Followed by a thumping ache. Replaced by an unfettered desire for retribution… until you see the 6-foot-4 lump who inflicted it.

Having been on the end of a few high tackles myself, it got me thinking: Which bright spark thought that studs were a good idea? And who created the first studded football boots, anyway? To find out, I embarked on a fact-finding mission…

Before the First Studded Football Boots

It turns out, the first pair of football boots (that we know of) belonged to a man who would, quite literally, have taken your head off. Old King Henry VIII. A big fan of the beautiful game, Hazza’s pair were fashioned by royal cobbler Cornelius Johnson in 1526.

The boots set His Royal Highness back four shillings – roughly £104 in today’s money, if we trust the National Archives’ currency converter.

Regrettably, his pair are no longer with us. But we understand that they were heavy, ankle-high leather numbers. Which sounds rather fetching to me.

However, despite the royal thumbs up for football, the game remained an amateur pursuit – and predominantly for the working class – until the late 1800s.

Which meant boots were basic. Players typically wore their (unstudded) work shoes, which were often heavy, leather, and ended with a steel toe cap.

FA Kicks Studs Out Of Football

But as the game continued to develop, the craftier players looked to enhance their grip by hammering tacks into the soles of their shoes.

In response to the – admittedly dangerous-sounding – modifications, the FA struck back and implemented Rule 13 in 1863. The complete ban of studs.

And with that decision, the stud could have died forever.

But this was football’s Age of Innovation. And a little thing like Rule 13 was not going to stop the evolution of the beautiful game.

Old Foresters line up in 1885, the year before the introduction of Ellis's Patent Boot Studs

Old Foresters line up in 1885, the year before the introduction of Ellis’s Patent Boot Studs Credit: Wiki Commons

The Birth of the Modern Football Boot

In 1886, and despite Rule 13, Ellis’s Patent Boot Stud entered the market. The revolutionary product could be fixed to the bottom of boots and came in a range of materials – compressed leather, wood, or rubber.

They offered better grip and made it easier to play in all weather conditions. They were, in all senses of the word, a game changer.

Eventually, the FA could no longer stem the tide of change. In 1891, they eased Rule 13 and gave the go-ahead to studded football boots. And football has never looked back.

Where to Buy and Sell Vintage and Classic Football Boots

Getting your hands on classic football boots couldn’t be easier. Just head to FutbolMarkt and check out the Marketplace. There you’ll find a dedicated footwear section with an ever-growing list of the best football boots around.

Alternatively, if you’re looking to get rid of your old boots, become a seller at FutbolMarkt. Not only will you clear out your cupboards, but you’ll make some cash in the process. Win-win.

Header picture: Three boys carry early versions of the studded football boots (circa 1915) Credit: Wiki Commons/Nationaal Archief

About the author: sammemurray11
Arsenal fan. Saturday league journeyman. Pantofola d'Oro fanboy.

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