Football, a sport that has captured the hearts of millions around the globe, has a rich history dating back to the 19th century.
As we delve into the annals of football history, we encounter the trailblazers, the pioneers who laid the foundation for the beautiful game we know today.
In this article, we will explore the top 20 oldest football clubs in the world, each with its unique story and contribution to the evolution of football.
List of the Top 20 Oldest Football Clubs in the World
|Cambridge University AFC
|Lausanne Football and Cricket Club
|Royal Engineers AFC
|Notts County FC
|Sheffield Wednesday FC
|Queen’s Park FC
|Swansea City AFC
|Heart of Midlothian FC
|Partick Thistle FC
|Aston Villa FC
|Blackburn Rovers FC
|West Bromwich Albion FC
1. Sheffield FC (England) – 1857
Considered the world’s oldest football clubs, Sheffield FC was founded in October 1857.
Established by Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest, the club originated from the desire to formalize and standardize the rules of the game.
Sheffield FC’s commitment to preserving the heritage of football is evident in its ongoing activities.
Notable achievements include being a founding member of The Football Association in 1863 and the club’s impressive longevity as a community-driven institution.
While not known for a slew of silverware, Sheffield FC takes pride in its historical significance, attracting football enthusiasts from around the world.
Remarkably, they continue to actively participate in various leagues, embodying the essence of football’s timeless spirit.
2. Cambridge University Association Football Club (England) – 1856
Founded in 1856, the Cambridge University Association Football Club emerged within the intellectual corridors of Cambridge University. It is one of the oldest football clubs in the world.
Initially established as a means for students to engage in physical activity, the club played a pivotal role in shaping the early development of football.
Its commitment to sports and academia is reflected in the continued involvement of the university’s students in the club.
Notable players who honed their skills at Cambridge include C.B. Fry and Charles W. Alcock, both influential figures in football’s formative years.
Today, Cambridge University AFC stands as a testament to the enduring connection between education and sports, with a rich history of fostering athletic and intellectual pursuits.
3. Hallam FC (England) – 1860
Hallam FC, founded in 1860, contributes significantly to the history of football’s origins in Sheffield. This is among the oldest football clubs in the world.
The club’s establishment by Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest, the same individuals behind Sheffield FC, solidifies its place as a key player in the sport’s early days.
Hallam FC’s resilience and enduring spirit are exemplified in its continuous participation in football competitions.
Notable achievements include being the second oldest football club globally and hosting the world’s oldest football ground, Sandygate.
Hallam FC’s commitment to the roots of football is evident in its preservation of historical artefacts and its active involvement in community initiatives.
4. Lausanne Football and Cricket Club (Switzerland) – 1860
Venturing beyond English borders, the Lausanne Football and Cricket Club (CFC) in Switzerland emerged in 1860.
Initially formed by English emigrants, the club played a crucial role in introducing football to the Swiss landscape.
While the club’s current activity may vary, its historical significance remains vital.
Notable achievements include contributing to the early growth of football in Switzerland and fostering a sense of community among the expatriate population.
Efforts to preserve the club’s legacy highlight its importance in the broader context of football’s global expansion.
5. Royal Engineers AFC (England) – 1863
Established in 1863, the Royal Engineers AFC holds a unique place in football history as a team formed by military personnel, Major Francis Marindin.
The club’s formation marked the convergence of athleticism and discipline, laying the groundwork for the sport’s disciplined development.
Notable achievements include reaching the final of the first-ever FA Cup in 1872, where they played against the team they helped found, Wanderers FC. This is among the oldest football clubs in the world.
While not as active in contemporary football, the Royal Engineers AFC’s historical impact on the early development of the game is widely acknowledged and celebrated.
6. Notts County FC (England) – 1862
Notts County FC, founded in 1862, proudly claims the title of the professional oldest football clubs. The club’s longevity speaks volumes about its resilience and adaptability.
Notable achievements include being a founding member of The Football League in 1888, where they played in the inaugural season.
The club has a rich history of success, with multiple FA Cup quarter-final appearances and a strong tradition of nurturing local talent.
Despite facing challenges and fluctuations in activity, Notts County FC remains an integral part of football history, its legacy intact.
7. Wrexham AFC (Wales) – 1864
Wrexham AFC, born in 1864, represents the Welsh contribution to football’s historical tapestry. This is among the oldest football clubs in the world.
The club’s journey intertwines with the growth of football in Wales and the broader British Isles.
Notable achievements include winning the Welsh Cup 23 times and reaching the quarter-finals of the European Cup Winners’ Cup in the 1975-76 season.
Currently active, Wrexham AFC competes in various leagues, showcasing the enduring passion for football in the region.
The club’s commitment to community engagement and its storied history make it a symbol of Welsh football pride.
8. Sheffield Wednesday FC (England) – 1867
A prominent name in English football, Sheffield Wednesday FC emerged in 1867. The club was founded as “The Wednesday” by members of the Wednesday Cricket Club. This is among the oldest football clubs in the world.
Notable achievements include four English First Division titles and three FA Cups. The club has been home to legendary players such as Ron Springett, David Hirst, and Chris Waddle.
Sheffield Wednesday FC remains an active participant in contemporary football, upholding its historic traditions while embracing the modern game.
The club’s commitment to success and its vibrant fanbase continue to make it a significant presence in English football.
9. Queen’s Park FC (Scotland) – 1867
Queen’s Park FC, founded in 1867, in Scotland, stands as a testament to the sport’s early adoption north of the border. This is among the oldest football clubs in the world.
The club’s pioneering efforts contributed significantly to the development of Scottish football.
Notable achievements include being one of the founding members of the Scottish Football Association (SFA) in 1873 and reaching the FA Cup final in 1884, making them the first Scottish club to do so.
Although Queen’s Park FC no longer participates in senior league football, its role in shaping Scottish football history is widely recognized.
The club’s commitment to amateurism and its influence on football governance remain significant aspects of its legacy.
10. Reading FC (England) – 1871
Reading FC, established in 1871, brings its unique flair to the list of oldest football clubs.
Originally formed as “The Biscuitmen,” the club went through several name changes before settling on Reading FC in 1920.
Notable achievements include winning the Football League Trophy in 1988 and reaching the FA Cup semi-finals in 1927.
Currently active in professional football, Reading FC competes in various leagues, embodying the enduring spirit of the game.
The club’s commitment to community engagement and its modern approach to football make it a dynamic presence in the English football landscape.
11. Swansea City AFC (Wales) – 1912
Founded in 1912, Swansea City AFC plays a crucial role in Wales’ football legacy. The club was initially formed as Swansea Town, evolving into Swansea City in 1969. This is among the oldest football clubs in the world.
Swansea City’s journey is a testament to the passion and dedication of the Welsh football community.
Notable Achievements include winning the Football League Trophy twice, in the 1993-94 and 2005-06 seasons, and, English League Cup in the 2012-2013 season.
The club has seen notable players like Alan Curtis, Lee Trundle, and Michu grace its ranks.
As an active participant in professional football, Swansea City AFC continues to contribute to the vibrant football culture in Wales and beyond.
12. Southampton FC (England) – 1885
Established in 1885, Southampton FC may be relatively younger on this list of oldest football clubs, but its impact on English football is substantial.
Originally founded as St. Mary’s Church of England Young Men’s Association (St. Mary’s YMA), the club changed its name to Southampton FC in 1897.
Southampton’s rise through the ranks includes winning the FA Cup in 1976 and reaching the final again in 2003.
The club is renowned for its youth development system, producing talents like Matt Le Tissier, Theo Walcott, and Gareth Bale.
Southampton FC’s commitment to nurturing local talent and its active participation in top-flight football symbolizes the ever-evolving nature of the sport.
13. Heart of Midlothian FC (Scotland) – 1874
Established in 1874, Heart of Midlothian FC, commonly known as Hearts, has a storied history in Scottish football. This is among the oldest football clubs in the world.
The club was formed by a group of friends from the Heart of Midlothian Dancing Club.
Notable achievements include winning the Scottish League four times and the Scottish Cup eight times.
Hearts has produced legendary players like Dave Mackay and John Robertson.
Actively participating in contemporary Scottish football, the club continues to contribute to the legacy of the beautiful game.
Hearts also played a significant role in founding the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) in 2013.
14. Rangers FC (Scotland) – 1872
Founded in 1872, Rangers FC is one of the most successful and historically significant oldest football clubs in Scotland and Europe.
The club’s founding members included Moses McNeil, Peter McNeil, Peter Campbell, and William McBeath.
Rangers boast a record 55 Scottish league titles and have had a profound impact on European competitions.
Notable players in the club’s history include Ally McCoist, Brian Laudrup, and John Greig.
Actively participating in top-level competitions, Rangers FC continues to add to its rich history, embodying the spirit of competition and tradition.
15. Partick Thistle FC (Scotland) – 1876
Partick Thistle FC, founded in 1876, adds a distinctive Scottish flavour to the list of oldest football clubs.
The club’s origins trace back to the Partick and Thornwood Mutual Improvement Class, which formed a football section.
Partick Thistle has had moments of success, including winning the Scottish Cup in 1921.
The club has a loyal fanbase and actively participates in contemporary Scottish football, contributing to the passion and fervour of Scottish football enthusiasts.
16. Kilmarnock FC (Scotland) – 1869
Founded in 1869, Kilmarnock FC is another Scottish club with a deep-rooted history in football. This is among the oldest football clubs in the world.
The club was initially formed by local cricket players who sought a winter sport.
Notable achievements include winning the Scottish League title in 1965 and securing the Scottish Cup in 1920.
While not as active in recent years, Kilmarnock FC maintains a connection to its historical roots and remains a cherished part of Scottish football history.
17. Aston Villa FC (England) – 1874
Established in 1874, Aston Villa FC boasts a legacy as one of England’s most successful and oldest football clubs.
The club was founded by members of the Villa Cross Wesleyan Chapel in Aston, Birmingham.
Notable achievements include seven English league titles and seven FA Cups.
Legendary players like Paul McGrath, Dennis Mortimer, and Peter Withe have worn the Villa colors.
Currently active at the highest levels of English football, Aston Villa FC continues to add new chapters to its storied history.
18. Blackburn Rovers FC (England) – 1875
Blackburn Rovers FC, founded in 1875, is a name synonymous with English football excellence. The club was formed by a group of young men from the Blackburn area.
Blackburn Rovers was a dominant force in the early years of football, winning the FA Cup six times before the turn of the 20th century.
Despite facing challenges, the club maintains its status as a professional oldest football clubs, competing in various competitions.
19. Everton FC (England) – 1878
Founded in 1878, Everton FC is one of the founding members of the Football League. This is among the oldest football clubs in the world.
The club originated from a Sunday school founded by members of the St. Domingo Methodist Church in Everton, Liverpool.
Everton has a rich history, winning nine English league titles and five FA Cups. Notable players like Dixie Dean, Neville Southall, and Alan Ball have left an indelible mark on the club.
Currently an active participant in professional football, Everton FC continues to be a fixture in the English football landscape.
20. West Bromwich Albion FC (England) – 1878
Completing our list of oldest football clubs is West Bromwich Albion FC, established in 1878. The club was formed by workers from George Salter’s Spring Works in West Bromwich.
West Bromwich Albion has a storied history, winning the English league title multiple times and the FA Cup five times.
Notable players like Tony Brown, Cyrille Regis, and Bryan Robson have made significant contributions to the club.
While facing fluctuations in activity, West Bromwich Albion FC remains an active participant in contemporary football, preserving its historic identity while embracing the challenges of the modern game.
The top 20 oldest football clubs are more than just a list of names and founding dates.
Each club represents a chapter in the ongoing story of football, contributing to its growth, evolution, and enduring global appeal.
From the historic fields of Sheffield to the vibrant football culture in Scotland and beyond, these clubs have left an indelible mark, shaping the game we cherish today.
Their continued presence on the footballing stage highlights the resilience of these pioneers and their unwavering commitment to the beautiful game.
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