Origin of the Word Soccer (An Alternative)

The accepted origin of the word "soccer" is that its a contraction of the word "Association" with reference to "Association Football". The Football Association was formed in October 1863 when the rules were standardised by a meeting of eleven clubs. With one of the written rules now being that the carrying of the ball was not permitted this finally set in stone the biggest practical different between Association Football and Rugby Football.

In 1889 the word was "socca", later it was "socker" in 1891 and finally seemed to settle on "soccer" by 1895. The word is supposed to have evolved in University slang, created by shortening the word "Association" and adding "er". They had other expressions such as "brekkers" for "breakfast" and "rugger" for "rugby."

While this seems a relatively acceptable version of the origin, and it does seem reasonble if these references started appearing in literature a couple of decades after the "association" was formed, there are a couple of things which put doubts in my mind.

Firstly it doesn't exactly follow the established rules for these Oxford contractions. Instead of merely chopping the last syllable off the word and adding "er", they remove the last two syllables, also remove the first letter of the word, then change the soft "c"s in the word to hard "c"s, before adding the "er". Okay, so maybe following the normal rules does produce the less desirable "asser", but why didn't this word become at least "sosser"?

Secondly, there is an alternative theory which fits rather well and, like the game itself, is considerably older than a hundred and fifty years.

"fut ball" edict origin of soccerFootball has roots thousands of years ago across many countries of the world but in England it became taken up by the working classes and frowned upon by those in authority and the upper classes. It was a very rough and dangerous sport at first, known as "mob football" and was little more than a violent street battle. The first use of the phrase "football" or rather "fut ball" was in 1424 in the editc reproduced on the right, but what about "soccer"?

If you look up at the closest-sounding modern word, "sock", a couple of interesting points appear. The modern word comes from an old English word spelt "socc". More interestingly this was not a snug, fabric covering as it is today, but back then it meant a light shoe and it comes from the Latin "soccus". The word "socc" to mean "shoe" first appeared in 725AD but was there any evidence of it relating to football?

When Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in Carlisle Castle in Tudor times it is documented that she watched the game of football, indeed her retinue played for two hours "strongly" and "skillfully". And, by an amazing coincidence, on this map of Carlisle Castle, it is remarkable to note that certain fields are labelled "Castle Soceries".

Old map showing soceries - maybe origin of soccer?

So could this be proof that in medieval times the game was also known as "soccer" and played by those wearing "soccs" on ground known as "soceries"... with the players "socking" the ball? It is certainly very far from being proof and sadly this circumstantial evidence is all there is to this theory. There appears to be no written evidence putting the word "socc" in the context of football but it remains an interesting mystery.

GMR