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1/15/2021 1:38 pm  #1

The Story of Gridby

To the casual sports fan, the game of Gridby may seem like a modern sport compared to its counterparts. But the history books prove that Gridby is a game as old as time.

In the mid to late 1860’s, an influx of immigration from Ireland and the United Kingdom brought soccer and rugby to North America.

The 1869 showdown between Rutgers College and the future Princeton University bore a close resemblance to soccer, but is considered by sports historians as the birth of college pigskin football.

On May 15, 1874 the colleges of McGill and Harvard tangled in a rugby match that would prove to be a major turning point in North American sports. On the McGill squad that day was James Creighton, whom a year later would be credited for organizing the first indoor ice hockey game. 

The first real seeds of Gridby were sown in Providence, Rhode Island. It was there on April 24, 1886 that a Providence YMCA instructor and McGill graduate named Phineas Danforth organized the first Gridby game. However, the action on the field played more like a mish-mash of soccer and rugby. With 24 men a side and no forward passing, the Shakespeare Athletic Club of Providence defeated the Union Club of Boston by the count of 6 to 2. Danforth’s cousin Rufus Dodson captained the Shakespeare squad while The Union Club was captained by Artemis Frazier.

Five years later, Frazier devised a new set of rules for his own version of Rugby. He eliminated the goalie position and reduced the number of players on the field for each team from 24 to the 13 now in use. In addition, Frazier introduced a weapon that made his game stand out from rugby; the forward pass. The first game under his rules was played in Boston between the Union Club and the Pilgrim Rowing Club on May 14, 1892, with the Pilgrims coming out on top 12-8.

In 1893, Frazier and Rufus Dodson put their short-lived rivalry aside to organize rugby teams at YMCA’s across New England using what became known as Frazier’s Rules.

As the 19th Century gave way to the 20th, pigskin fields on most of America’s college campuses began to be painted in a grid pattern, inspiring sportswriter Claude H. Miller to observe that “...the lines on a [pigskin] football field make a checkerboard effect and have given to the field the name of ‘gridiron.'”

The name “Gridby” was coined by Boston Globe sports writer Elden Remington in 1911 to describe the game and the name would stick. Through World War I and the Spanish Flu, Gridby was mostly an amateur sport throughout New England, languishing well behind baseball, college football, boxing and horse racing.

In 1921 with the flu epidemic in the rear view mirror, Frazier published his rulebook to use Gridby as the name of the sport. Soon after, interest in the game spread nationwide, mostly in the college, amateur and youth ranks.

The first attempt at a professional Gridby league came about during this same time period, thanks to the courage of a former Yale midfielder named Virgil Beaumont. Using Frazier’s rulebook as a guide, Beaumont gathered his former college roommates together to organize the founding of not one, but three leagues.

Starting in 1926, Beaumont himself would run a league for the Northeast. Alfred “Pops” Duffy would run a league for the midwest while Carlton “Happy” Stovall would oversee a league for the west coast.

And that is where our story begins.

Here is a graphic of the NGL's Grand Final champions so far:

Last edited by NeoPrankster (1/30/2021 11:09 pm)


1/15/2021 2:06 pm  #2

Re: The Story of Gridby

Interesting, can't wait to see the teams.
Owner of the New York Sentinels of the AltBA

1/15/2021 3:01 pm  #3

Re: The Story of Gridby

The Rules of Gridby Football
Copyright MCMXXI by Artemis H. Frazier

The field
- The field shall be roughly the same size as a pigskin gridiron, 120 yards long by roughly 50 yards wide.
- The field shall be divided into three zones; Defense, Neutral and Attack. These zones are determined by the direction the team is attacking.
- The center circle along the halfway line is where play begins with a ballup..
- The two lines at either side of the center circle are called restraining lines. Just like in lacrosse, the defenders and attackers are confined to their respective zones and only the midfielders can roam about.
- The squares in the defensive and attack zones are the areas where a penalty kick or conversion kick shall be taken.
- The dotted lines are where the teams shall line up for a lineout whenever the ball goes out of bounds in either zone.
- Each team is allowed thirteen players on the field at any time.

The ball
- The ball shall be an oval shape or a prolate spheroid to allow optimal forward passing.

- Helmets (initially leather) are required on the field at all times.
- The rest of the uniform shall consist of a jersey, shorts, socks, shoes, padding for the shoulders and knees.

- No contact above the shoulders or below the knees.
- Tackles can only be made at the chest and waist area.

Starting play
- The game starts with a ballup at the center circle.

Restarting play
- If the ball goes out of bounds in the defensive or attack zones, play restarts with a lineout along the dotted lines in either zone.

Advancing the ball
- Players shall run, pass and kick the ball forward.
- Laterals are allowed.
- The defending team needs to record six tackles to stop the attacking team and gain possession.
- After a tackle is made, the ball carrier is tackled, defenders must retreat five yards so that the tackled ball carrier can get up and use a foot to roll the ball backward to a teammate.

- Try: A ball carrier can cross the goal line into the in-goal area. Unlike in traditional rugby, no downward pressure on the ball is necessary. Worth five points. 
- Conversion: Basically the extra points after a try. Must be kicked over the crossbar and between the uprights. Worth two points.
- Penalty kick: Taken at a square marked in the middle of the defensive and attack zones, at least 20 yards from the goal line. Worth 3 points.
- Punt goal: Basically a drop-goal but without needing the ball to touch the ground before making the kick. Worth 3 points.
- The goal posts are in the shape of a narrow H.

- A penalty kick is rewarded if a player hits an opponent in the head, above the shoulders or below the knees.
- A penalty kick can also be rewarded if an attacker or defender crosses the restraining line and promptly whistled offsides.


- Two cornerbacks; the last line of defense in trying to stop the other team from scoring
- One fullback; The safety on your squad. The ballhawk you'll need to intercept passes and create takeaways.
- Two halfbacks; The linebackers of the squad, usually the shortest defenders and adept at stripping the ball from midfielders.

- Center; the only player allowed to touch the ball at the ballup. Usually the team captain and the tallest of the midfielders.
- Two wingmen; The left and right wing line up on either side of the center during the ballup. Usually shorter but faster than the center.

- Two half forwards (HF); Usually the first players to receive the ball from the midfielders during a typical drive.
- One full forward; Usually the tallest, strongest and most athletic on the attack. Also, the player with the best hands on the team.
- Two front pockets (FP); The players closest to the goal line and usually the players in the best position to score. Usually the shortest guys on the attack.

Roster size
13 starters and 17 substitutes for a 30 man roster.

     Thread Starter

1/15/2021 10:13 pm  #4

Re: The Story of Gridby

Here's how the Gridby field would actually look on an American football sized field.

     Thread Starter

1/16/2021 3:35 pm  #5

Re: The Story of Gridby

The first team of the Great Lakes Gridby League to be unveiled were the St. Louis Browns, named after one of the local baseball teams.

     Thread Starter

1/16/2021 3:53 pm  #6

Re: The Story of Gridby

The second team in the Great Lakes League to be unveiled were the Louisville Coopers.

     Thread Starter

1/16/2021 3:59 pm  #7

Re: The Story of Gridby


The three-league plan for professional Gridby has been scrapped due to a severe lack of financial backing. The St. Louis Browns and Louisville Coopers, who were scheduled to compete in a midwestern league for 1926, have accepted invites to join the National Gridby League, which was slated to be only for the Northeastern United States.

     Thread Starter

1/16/2021 4:12 pm  #8

Re: The Story of Gridby

Oh interesting, a war between the leagues before play even begins. Color me interested
Owner of the New York Sentinels of the AltBA

1/16/2021 4:16 pm  #9

Re: The Story of Gridby

Rugrat wrote:

Oh interesting, a war between the leagues before play even begins. Color me interested

As I said, the three-league plan has been scrapped. So there will be only one league, at least at the beginning.

In the meantime, here are the Chicago Gaels.

     Thread Starter

1/16/2021 4:26 pm  #10

Re: The Story of Gridby

The fourth team to be unveiled were the Cleveland Cardinals.

     Thread Starter

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