Football is the favorite pastime of millions, if not billions on our planet. It is not an understatement to say that its history is a history of the world in short in the 1800s, the whole of the 20th century and the first decades of the 21st century that we live in and in which football is more popular than ever. The rules of the game have changed dramatically and it is still an open topic as experts and fans alike are debating whether the offside rule should be abandoned to make the game more fluent. However, the goal posts are not a hot topic today because their size and shape had long ago been determined to the last inch but this was a process that took time. For instance, at the very beginning, there was no upright in football and the sport resembled more an NFL or an AFL game. Feeling intrigued? Well, then read on about how the humble goal post was shaped throughout history.

Only uprights

It might seem preposterous but the truth is the first football matches resembled the way schoolchildren play football. The posts were the only part of the „goal,“ so there were fierce debates whether a goal was scored if the ball went high over the goalkeeper. In general, people thought that there was an imaginary line that was high as raised arms of an average person. This proved to be highly ineffective as different teams saw the line at different heights. Until 1863 the rules of Association Football did not require the use on any kind of a visible horizontal marker that would correspond to the upright we know of today. Weird, right?

A crossbar swaying in the wind

Mere there years later, in 1866, the rules changed. In the FA Cup final of 1873, the fans first witnessed a visible marker in the form of a tape that stretched from one post to another. It was loosely set so the wind kept swaying it and a stronger kick could tear it off. The solution proved as inadequate, so it was supplanted a decade later with a permanent crossbar that were first seen on the grounds of Queen’s Park and Sheffield FC in the UK. From there on, they became a standard and the shape of the modern goal was created.

The net

Around the same time the crossbar became an integral part of the goal, the nets were also added. Some clubs had them before but they weren’t mandatory, so there were a lot of controversies. These still exist in water polo, for instance, where the floating goals can cause the net to detach, so it is not clear whether a goal was conceded. That is why modern goals have nets far away from the posts, in order to be sure that the ball went in and stayed inside.

The goal line debate

Even with the introduction of nets, it was still hard to determine in every single case if the ball had gone across the line. The goal line was there right from the very start but other than the judgment of the spectators, the players and the referees, there was no objective and 100% bulletproof way of knowing if it had passed the goal line. That is why the modern goal-line technology was introduced in the 21st century but even this was faulty, as we saw in the 2010 World Cup when Frank Lampard’s goal was disallowed against Germany.

The material goal posts are made from

Their goals might have resembled a washing line but first footballers were certain about one thing: the material used for goal post had to be solid. At first, this meant wood, which was soon replaced by steel and finally aluminum that most goals are made out of today. Whichever material is used for the goal post, it needs to be high-quality and it must adhere to the standards of FIFA or UEFA, which take great care of the quality of goal posts. For instance, they must be stable, as there were numerous accidents in the past when heavy steel goals fell on players seriously injuring them. It is no wonder that aluminum goal posts, like the ones produced by Pila goal posts are the most common material post are made of today.

Round vs. square

The final intrigue surrounding football goal posts was their shape. Namely, the round goal post had won over the world, but for some reason, Scots still preferred square posts. This all changed in 1976 after two weird deflections by the post during the European Cup Final at Hampden Park. Since 1987, all posts have to be round in shape.

As you can see, the size and the shape of the goal had been fairly consistent for almost a century and a half. The only changes made to it presently regard safety, as more and more football schools use mobile goal posts.