Alfred Lyttelton (England, 1878)
Reading descriptions of the play of The Hon.Alfred Lyttelton K.C (Cambridge University, Old Etonians and England) nicely illustrates the fundamental differences between the early Association game and the game we know now.
In fact, Lyttelton (the first man to be capped by England in Football and cricket) provides us with early evidence of a player's strengths falling from fashion. An individualistic dribbler, he was criticized for selfish play on his one England appearance (he scored in a 3- 1 defeat to Scotland in 1878).
Tributes were also paid to his 'bunting' skills. This 'bunting' appears to resemble the method used by a centre in Rugby Union to break through tackles:
This ... faculty he exercised by dint of a jerk of his hips, not as ordinarily by lowering the shoulder, and so the aggressor could see no sign of the terrific impact coming.
What is described here is a more physical game, almost a collision sport. You dribble with the ball, probably backed up by a 'rush' of your own players surrounding you protectively. The opposition attempt to barge you off the ball, and you counter this with your own, hopefully more robust 'bunt'.
Some qualities , though, are enduring. Here isLyttelton's brother's account of his speed and shooting prowess:
He would run towards the corner and then swiftly turn inwards, running parallel to the back line, and some ten yards from it. At this point he was pursued probably by three of the opponents, barely keeping up. This continued till he got opposite the further goal post, and then one huge foot was smartly dropped on the ball, stopping it dead, and of course the pursuers all ran a yard or so too far, not suspecting the sudden pull up; thus he had a clear shot at the goal.