FOR more than 150 years, the Laws of football required the players of each side to start the game in their own half of the field of play.

The ball however, had to be kicked forward to start the game.

In later years’ referees had become a little relaxed by allowing a player standing alongside the kicker, to stand inside his opponent’s half, to receive the ball.

An infringement I have to admit I never allowed.

I merely asked them to stand in their own half as the law required, even the university student who queried how it was possible to kick the ball forward if none of his team could be there.

So why did other referees, allow the infringement of this simple law with more players having the same views as that university student?

The answer I believe is in the recommended positioning of referees at kick-off, in the Laws of the Game.

This is on the kicker’s left-hand side of the pitch well back from the half way line and the centre mark, where they are not able to monitor the kick-off.

I refuse to adopt this suggestion as I see little benefit in it. I prefer to stand on the left-hand edge of the penalty circle in the opponent’s half.

In this way I had total control of the kick-off and could easily make my request to anyone transgressing the line.

The International FA Board took an opposite view, so, in their words, to prevent players having to stand in their opponents half at kick off, they decreed that the ball could be kicked in any direction.

For most teams this means kicking the ball backwards, which is even more difficult if you are standing in your own half. This became an open invitation to the kicker to stand in the opponent’s half to make the kick.

So this year the IFAB made it legal.

At kick-off every player except the kicker must be in their own half of the field of play.