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We all know that football has been around for years, but new evidence suggests that the beautiful game could be around 350 years older than previously thought.

Historians have discovered documents which suggest that early games were taking place in Britain’s royal courtyards as early as the end if the 15th century. A manuscript from the financial accounts of King James IV of Scotland show that the king paid no less than two shillings for a bag of ‘fut ballis’, in a transaction dated 11th April, 1497.

There have also been several diaries discovered which appear to confirm these royal games, as well as an early football ball. The old leather ball was discovered within the walls of a bedchamber used by Mary, Queen of Scots, which also appears to be dated back as far as the mid-16th century, confirming the link with royalty.

Other early references to football have previously been found in football betting records, made long before the modern online. However, these more recent discoveries are the oldest historical references to this sport to be discovered yet, and will certainly alter the way in which football is currently thought to have developed.

However, it seems still to be the case that the first football clubs were not formed until 1824, when a student at Edinburgh university put together his own club, know simply as ‘The Football Club’. It wasn’t until some years later that an official set of rules were put together for the game, with professors at Cambridge University laying down the original playing guidelines for the game.

The early style of playing which is now believed to have taken place within the royal courtyards is thought to have had significant variations for these later, more official games.