Archive for January, 2011

The Football Association


“Success to football, irrespective of class or creed”

Hello and welcome back to this weekly special exploring the origins of British football. Today we’re going to take a little side-track from looking at clubs themselves as I feel this is a good time to introduce the governing body, the Football Association. The development of a standardised governing body could be distinguished as the most important move in the history of the game.

Last week we discovered the story behind Sheffield FC, the oldest football club in the world and how they developed and played by their own rules, known as ‘Sheffield Rules’ and how regional variations developed. For six years ‘football’ had been played in different cities, but whilst all these cities were playing under differing rules, there was no way in which there could be any inter-city competition.

Come 1863, the decision had been made that if the sport was to move forward then some standardisation would have to be made in order to prevent the sport from becoming separate entities across the country. At the Freemasons’ Tavern on Long Acre in London was where the first ever meeting of the Football Association was staged.

On the 26th October 1863, thirteen different clubs and public schools sent representatives to the meeting to discuss the future of football in Britain, however, looking at records, it becomes clear that only one of the teams present, Crystal Palace, still exist as a football club, all the others have disintegrated and formed rugby union football clubs.

Ebenezer Cobb Morley was the founding member of the Football Association in 1862 and is regarded as the most significant man in the establishment of the national governing body. Morley went on to become the first ever secretary of the Football Association and it was at his home in Barnes where he drafted the first ever Laws of the Game, known at the time as ‘London Rules’.

Over six meetings at the Freemasons’ Tavern the rules were discussed and those who agreed and wanted to join the FA did so. However, teams such as Blackheath were not impressed with the rules forbidding the ball being picked up and no tripping or holding of players being allowed. They opted out and instead decided to form the Rugby Football Union in 1871.

The splitting of the two codes was the origins or the word ‘soccer’, meaning football played under the Association’s rules.

The first ever game under FA ruling was scheduled for Battersea Park as we saw last week where Sheffield FC took on the hosts and lost by two goals and four touchdowns to nil, however, an unofficial trial of the rules were taken out when Morley’s Mortlake took on Richmond. The game ended in a goalless draw, also, Richmond did not enjoy the experience and yet another club followed the path of rugby union as opposed to football.

The Football Association Challenge Cup; or FA Cup as it is now more commonly known is the oldest football competition in the world, having been first played in 1871. The final of that first cup was contested between the Wanderers and the Civil Engineers, with the Wanderers walking out one nil victors and the winners of the inaugural FA Cup. Initially the competition was dominated by amateur teams, however, after the foundation of the Football League in 1888 there was a boom in professional team and they began to take over the sport.

 Throughout the early years of the FA there were some disagreements and failure to all comply on the same terms and rules of how the game was to be played, most notably the ‘Sheffield Rules’ debate as cited last week. However, by the end of the century all of these disputes had been settled and the formal Laws of the Game were standardised and respected nationally.

Bringing the history of the Football Association up to date somewhat, the latest big move made by the sports’ national governing body was to adopt the Premier League in 1992 which then comprised of twenty-two teams who had broken away from the Football League. Three years later the league was reduced in size by two members and became and still is one of the richest football leagues in the world with debatably the best reputation worldwide.

The FA is now based at the national stadium, some 90,000 capacity Wembley Stadium and is headed by its President, none other than, His Royal Highness Prince William. The responsibility of the association now covers a very wide spectrum, from the forty-three county associations, to the national team and overseeing the running of the Premier League, Football League and National League football in the country.

Thank you very much once again for reading!

I hope you have enjoyed this special looking at the national governing body and look forward to seeing you next week when we explore the history of the oldest Football League club!

Any ideas who it is?

Find out next week, right here!

Have a great weekend and enjoy the football!



Hello and welcome to a weekly special tracking the history of British football clubs. Today we will start at the origin of club football in this country with Sheffield FC, founded in 1857 and is acknowledged by the Football Association and FIFA as the oldest football club in the world.

The 1850’s saw plenty happening for Britain with the Crimean War dominating the middle of the decade, Queen Victoria was on the throne throughout the period and the words ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ were seen in writing for the very first time as recognised words.

Throughout the year of 1855, the members of Sheffield Cricket Club were organising informal ‘kick-abouts’ which carried no relevance or meaning, however, Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest saw some value in this new ‘game’ which the men were playing. They took the initiative and were the founding members of Sheffield Football Club, the first ever formal club for football.

The inaugural meeting of the new club took place on the 24th October 1857 at Parkfield House in the Highfield area of the city, with their headquarters based at East Bank Road where they found their first official home on the playing fields close by.

Obviously with no others clubs having been formed at this time, the games which were played took place between the squad members of the club. Games ranged from married versus singles to old versus young to professionals versus ‘the rest’ and many more variations.

1858 saw the first annual general meeting of the club, where founders, Creswick and Prest took responsibility for developing the rules by which the game would be played. The Football Association wasn’t formed until five years later; however, there were different variations of ‘football’ up and down the country, mainly in public schools. The rules developed by the two sportsmen were very distinctive to what we know today and became known as Sheffield Rules.

Developed on the 21st October 1858, Sheffield Rules were the first officially published rules for the game and are seen as the foundation of football as we know it today. It was agreed that foul play would result in the opposing team receiving a free kick; however, the offside rule was not incorporated into this set of rules. A lot of the rules which did make this first publication closely resemble the modern day version of Australian Rules football.

Two years later, the district of Hallam, in the Sheffield region, established their own club and the first ever local football derby was played and to this day the two teams still contest in the rival match. Within the next two years another thirteen more clubs initiated in the city and the club took the decision to only play against teams from other cities in order to challenge themselves.

Members of Sheffield FC were instrumental in the establishment of a national governing body and in 1862, the Football Association was founded. A meeting was held involving various public school scholars and the ‘Laws of the Game’ were developed, commonly referred to at the time as ‘London Rules’. On 30th November 1863, Sheffield FC became formal members of the Football Association, but continued to play under their own set of rules.

In January 1865 the club played their first game outside the city, against Nottingham and the game took place under ‘Nottingham Rules’. However, a year later, a century before England’s one and only World Cup success, the first inter-city match took place under Football Association laws between Sheffield FC and Battersea Park FC in London. The match saw Sheffield players ‘butting’ the ball, prompting fits of laughter from the opposition and spectators; this was the birth of heading in football. Battersea Park went on to win the game by 2 goals and 4 touchdowns to nil.

Sir Charles Clegg, Sheffield FC’s leading player was named on the teamsheet for the first ever international football match which was contest by England and Scotland and became one of the first eleven men to earn the three lion international cap. The game took place at Hamilton Cresent in Scotland and ended in a 0-0 draw; but yet again, Sheffield had involvement in another first for the sport.

Conflicts arose between Sheffield and the sport’s governing body as the city team continued to play under their own ‘Sheffield Rules’ and constantly sent revised proposals to the FA seeking approval of their format. In 1878 Sheffield FC conceded and adopted the Football Association Laws which saw almost majority standardisation of the game as we know it today.

 The club had to wait until 1904 before they managed to win their first piece of silverware and the FA Amateur Cup final victory is still regarded as the club’s finest hour. Played in Bradford, the final saw Sheffield FC take on Ealing FC where the oldest ever football club ran out victors with a three goals to one winning margin.

 Sheffield FC was acknowledged by the international governing body in 2007 when the club was awarded the FIFA Order of Merit along Real Madrid for their services to football. The anniversary of the club was celebrated by a series of matches, with opponents including Ajax and Inter Milan. Also, there was a membership influx with various notable figures from the sport joining the clubs, no less than former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, Ashes winning England cricket captain, Michael Vaughan and FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

The club now presides in the Northern Premier League Division One South and play their games at the Coach and Horse Ground in Dronfield, nearby Derbyshire.

Thank you very much for reading the first of this series of English football history.

Feel free to leave any comments; any feedback would be much appreciated.

Look forward to seeing you for next Friday’s instalment.

Have a great weekend, Sheffield FC are away at Quorn, keep your eye out for the score from the oldest football club in the world.


Sheffield F C Squad 1890


Hello and welcome to my new blog!

This blog is going to contain a series of posts tracking the origins of football clubs in Britain.

The oldest official club in the world, as recognised by the FA and FIFA is Sheffield FC which was founded in 1857.

Sheffield FC is going to be the starting point for this series.

Don’t miss out on your chance to find out the history and origins of football in Britain, subscribe now so you are ready for when the series kicks off, this Friday, January 21st.

You can also follow me on Twitter @BH92 to see when the latest posts are available.

I look forward to hearing your comments and views as we travel through time with British football clubs.

Thanks for reading!