- Oldest football club
The title of the world's oldest
football club, or the oldest club in a particular country, is often disputed, or is claimed by several different clubs, across several different codes of football. FIFA and the FA officially recognise Sheffield FC as the world's first and oldest football club playing association rules.
It is possible that an organisation of football players existed in London between 1421 and 1423. The records of the Brewers' Company of London, a
guild, mention the hiring out of their hall "by the "ffooteballepleyers" for "20 pence", under the heading "Crafts and Fraternities". [Magoun, Francis Peabody (1929) "Football in Medieval England and Middle-English Literature." "The American Historical Review", v.35, no. 1] The listing of football players as a "fraternity" is the earliest allusion to what might be considered a football club. [M. Marples, 1954, "A History of Football", Secker & Warburg, London, p. 36 ]
Many early clubs did not use the word "football" in their name. Although the terms "football club" and "FC" are now strongly associated with Association football (soccer), early rugby clubs also referred to themselves, or continue to refer to themselves, as simply a "football club", or as a "Rugby Football Club". Similarly, most
Australian rules footballteams refer to themselves as "_____ Football Club".
The "first" documented football club is one in
Edinburgh, Scotland, during the period 1824-41, and associated with a man named John Hope. Several documents relating to this "Foot Ball Club" exist. [John Hope, "Accounts and papers of the football club kept by John Hope, WS, and some Hope Correspondence 1787-1886" (National Archives of Scotland, GD253/183)] The only surviving club rules forbade tripping, but allowed pushing and holding and the picking up of the ball. [ [http://www.nas.gov.uk/about/071112.asp The Foot-Ball Club in Edinburgh, 1824-1841 - The National Archives of Scotland ] ] Other documents describe a game involving 39 players and "such kicking of shins and such tumbling".A club has since been reformed under the original constitution, and play under the name, The Foot Ball Club of Edinburgh". A club for playing "cricket, quoits and football" was established in Newcastle on Tynein or before 1848. [" The Guardian", June 10, 1848.]
It is has been claimed that the Barnes Club (later Barnes Rugby Football Club), from Barnes in
London, was formed in 1839 [cite web | url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/sport/2005/11/02/srinve02.xml | title=My assumptions about 'oldest' were confounded by Barnes | publisher= The Daily Telegraph] . However, this has not been conclusively documented. It is also argued, and supported by the Guinness Book of Records, that Guy's Hospital Football Club, founded by staff at Guy's Hospitalin London in 1843, is the oldest club. While a rugby club still exists at Guy's Hospital, the connection between the present club and the one formed in 1843 is poorly-documented [cite web | url=http://www.gktgazette.com/2004/mar/features.asp#2 | title=GKT Gazette – March 2004 – A history of rugby | publisher=Guy's, King's & St.Thomas's Hospitals Medical & Dental Schools Gazette] .
The "oldest" football club with a well-documented, continuous history is the
Dublin University Football Club, founded in 1854 at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. The club now plays rugby union.
Sheffield Football Club, in
Sheffield, England is the "oldest documented non-university club", and was founded in 1857. It initially played a code of its own devising. The club joined the English Football Association (F.A.) in 1863 and is recognised by both the F.A. and FIFAas the world's oldest club now playing Association football. The club's rules influenced the F.A. including handball, free kicks, corners and throw ins; it did not adopt the Association's code in full until 1877.
Cambridge University Association Football Club has been described by both the university as the oldest club now playing Association football (soccer). [ [http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/univ/newsletter/2006/2006newsletter_july_august.pdf "Cambridge University Newsletter" July/August 2006] (p. 4) & [http://www.bbc.co.uk/cambridgeshire/content/articles/2006/06/09/cambridge_football_rules_parkers_piece_feature.shtml BBC Cambridgeshire, "Cambridge... the birthplace of football?!" (June 13, 2006)] Access date for both references:
July 11, 2007.] According to Charles Astor Bristed, in the early 1840s at Cambridge, there were games played between clubs from different colleges and houses. [Charles Astor Bristed (1852) "Five Years in an English University", page 365] Cambridge rules dates from 1848 and football is documented as being played on the original club ground, Parkers Piece, as early as 1838. [http://www.cuafc.org/history.php] The earliest existing evidence of the Cambridge University Football Club comes from "The Laws of the University Football Club" dated 1856, and held at Shrewsbury School. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/cambridgeshire/content/articles/2006/06/09/cambridge_football_rules_parkers_piece_feature.shtml; see video clip]
The German club
1860 Munichwas founded in the year indicated by its name, but did not play any kind of football until 1899.English club Notts County, formed in 1862, are the world's oldest fully professional league club. Gridiron footballwas not invented until the 1870s; Harvard Universitywas the first to devise the game and it quickly spread, with innovations added by Yale Universitystudent Walter Camp. The oldest existing non-university semiprofessional football club is the Watertown Red & Black, which was founded in 1896. In 1899, the oldest professional football club was founded; it is now known as the Arizona Cardinals.
*= disputed, poorly documented or dormant for a period.
List of Australian rules football clubs by date of establishment
* [http://www2.umist.ac.uk/sport/Sports%20History/Bibliographies/Cumulative/BBB.htm University of Manchester, "Local studies in the History of Sport England" (Bibliography)]
* [http://www.cliftonrfc.co.uk/common/history/references/oldest%20clubs/oldest%20clubs.htm Clifton Rugby Football Club, "Oldest Rugby Clubs" ]
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