Like much else in Association football the original concept originated in Sheffield as some kind of punishment for fouls that had caused a goal to be missed . The Sheffield solution was not to award a penalty kick but to award a penalty goal. The concept of a penalty goal for fouls within 2 yards of the goal was suggested at a Sheffield Football Association meeting in 1879 :
‘.. if a player fouls the ball within 2 yards of his own goal and in the umpire’s opinion a goal would have been obtained but for such a foul, a goal shall be given against the defending side.’
It was discussed at a meeting 18th February 1879 and later rescinded :
Clearly it was felt that awarding a goal was too generous a response and it would be 12 years later before the first incarnation of the penalty kick was introduced on 2 June 1891 by the International Football Association Board.
The new penalty law required new pitch marking. Two lines were marked across the field, 12 and 18 yards from each goal line, replacing the semi-circles that had been in force since 1887. The penalty was not taken from a spot but anywhere along the 12-yard line until 1902. A penalty kick was awarded for offences occurring 12 yards from the goal line. The other players had to stand behind the ball and at least 6 yards from the kicker, as marked by the 18-yard line, when the kick took place.
An excellent explanation with diagram appeared in the Scottish Referee – Monday 03 August 1891
My research suggests that the first penalty ever awarded, was north of the border at a match between Abercorn and Port Glasgow Athletic on the 8th of August 1891. The referee ‘enforced the new football rule’ and Connell scored the first penalty for Abercorn; the referee clearly liked the new law and awarded two more in the same match.
Shankhouse FC scored a penalty kick against Southwick in the Northern Alliance on Saturday 5th of September 1891-with the unfortunate Callaghan handling the ball in front of the goal.
Martin Westby’s new book is available now A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889 http://bit.ly/2qYw0r0