That England have gone over forty years without winning a trophy is annoying, and for that various managers, players, officials and opponents bear a degree of responsibility, but it does not equate to a fundamental decline. It is possible that there is a fundamental flaw in the way England play the game, and an almost self-conscious Luddism hasn’t helped, but it would be hard to make a serious case for a root-and-branch overhaul of the English game on the basis of results in major tournaments alone.
The debate was long and furious but, after a fifth meeting at the Freemason’s Tavern in Lincoln’s Inn Fields in London, at 7pm on 8 December 1863, carrying the ball by hand was outlawed, and football and rugby went their separate ways. The dispute, strangely, was not over the use of the hand, but over hacking - that is, whether kicking opponents in the shins should be allowed. F.W. Campbell of Blackheath was very much in favour. ‘If you do away with [hacking],’ he said, ‘you will do away with all the courage and pluck of the game, and I will be bound to bring over a lot of Frenchmen...
Queen’s Park accepted the three-man variant when they joined the FA on 9 November 1870, but by then the idea of passing was already implanted. In Scotland the ball was there to be kicked, not merely dribbled,
slipping back into a deeper position, eventually becoming, over the course of the 1880s, a centre-half in a 2-3-5 formation: the Pyramid.