In 19th century newspapers I often see references to scrimmages, often when describing goals that are, more often that not, not credited to individual players. I had it in my head that this activity would be similar to a rugby scrum, where open play had broken down, and several players would be hacking away trying to get possession of the ball.
However, I recently came across a description which suggests there was more to it, and perhaps rules around it.
From the Glasgow Evening Citizen 1 October 1887, from the report of the Partick Thistle v Cowlairs game:
Any insights welcome.The Cowlairs next had a look in, and their chances were augmented by a foul immediately in front of goal. In the scrimmage which followed McPherson accidentally touched the ball, and this gave relief to the other side.