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The Irish Man Who Invented The Penalty Kick: William McCrum

William McCrum was born in Ballynahone Beg, Co.Armagh in 1865. He was the son of the linen millionaire Robert Garmany McCrum. William started his studies at The Royal School in Co. Armagh before moving to Trinity College in Co. Dublin. In 1909, he was the High Sheriff of Armagh.

William was nicknamed in the community as “Master Willie,”. He was a locally renowned athlete. He spent a lot of time and energy coaching and was crucial in the founding of the Milford Cricket Club. All of his life, he was deeply interested in the Boy Scout Movement.

‘Willie’ liked to drive around town in his Rolls-Royce and was known for losing a fortune at the casinos of Monte Carlo. Generally, he was much better at losing money than making it“.

William’s grandson speaking to “The Guardian”

In the late 19th century, William played as a goalkeeper for his local team “Milford FC“. Milford FC took part in the very first Irish Championship.

“McCrum as a goalkeeper had a front-row view of the very worst aspects of the game at that point in time

Catherine Healy, Historian in Residence at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum

Proposal Of The Penalty Kick – William McCrum

Due to being a goalkeeper, he could see every foul a defender would make on an attacker to prevent a scoring opportunity. William disapproved of the fouls so he wanted change. As William was on the Irish Football Association, he decided to propose the introduction of the penalty kick at a meeting in 1890.

When the proposal was brought forward in England, it was labelled as the “death penalty” and the “Irish man’s motion“.

“a standing insult to sportsmen to have to play under a rule which assumes that players intend to trip, hack and kick their opponents and behave like cads of the most unscrupulous kidney”

 C.B. Fry, former captain of Corinthian FC

In 1891, Airdrieonians FC were awarded the first penalty in a competitive match in Scotland. Later that year, the proposal was brought up at the Alexandra Hotel in Glasgow. After this meeting, the penalty kick was introduced as IFAB’s Law 14—as it remains today.

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Later Life

William McCrum’s luck did not improve later in life. All he had inherited from his father had to be put up for auction following the 1929 stock market crisis. A few years later, he passed away penniless and by himself. The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), which oversees international football, formally recognises the location where William McCrum created the penalty kick in 1891.
As the focal point of a memorial park, a commemorative bust of the Victorian linen magnate, who played as a goalkeeper for the Milford team, was built in the community.

MLS Penalty Shootout

The highest level of soccer in the United States, Major League Soccer (MLS), tested out an entirely distinct type of shoot-out to settle games back in the mid-1990s. The “true shootout“, which was first implemented by Major League Soccer, gave players five seconds to defeat the opposing goalie from the starting position of 35 yards from the goal line.

To score, players may attempt to shoot from a distance or nearer to the goal, additionally, they could try to dribble around the goalie. They had a wide range of possibilities at their disposal. Goalkeepers could either hurry out of their zone or remain on their lines. A standard penalty from 12 yards would be given if the goalie fouled their opponent. In 1999, these “true shootouts” were stopped.

The Longest Penalty Shootout

In March 2022, Washington played Bedlington in the Memorial Cup’s opening round. The score was tied 3-3. Both clubs were non-league clubs from the North-East of England. Washington went on to defeat Bedlington 25-24 in penalties. This set a record for the longest-ever penalties.

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Famous Penalty Shootouts.

2005, Liverpool vs AC Milan in the Champions League Final. The game finished 3-3, Liverpool went on to win the penalties 3-2.

2005, Arsenal vs Manchester United in the FA Cup. The match finished goalless. The Gunners won 5-4 in penalties.

2008, The Champions League Final between Manchester United and Chelsea in Moscow. The game ended 1-1. Manchester United won their third Champions League on penalties, 6-5.

2010, The 2010 World Cup Quarter Final between Uruguay and Ghana. The match ended a tie after 120 minutes. We saw Luis Suarez handle the ball off the goal line to prevent Ghana from scoring a winner. Sebastián Gallo scored the winning penalty to stop Ghana from becoming the first African Nation to reach the World Cup Semi-Final.

The Best Penalty Taker

Currently, Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest penalty-taker when it comes to stats. The Portuguese International has scored over 160 penalties in his career, more than Lionel Messi, Ibrahimović and Ronald Koeman. At this moment, Ronaldo has missed 29 penalties, including one in the 2008 Champions League Final that he won.

Current Penalty Rules

The ball must be motionless and have a portion of it that touches or hangs above the penalty mark’s centre.

The players outside the goalkeeper and the penalty taker must be at least 9.15 metres from the point of penalty, either behind the line or inside the field playing area.

The defending goalie must have at least one foot in contact with the ground, either behind or in line with the goal line, at the moment the ball is kicked.

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