The Top 10 Oldest Football Clubs
The history of football dates back to 1857 when Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest created the Sheffield Rules which became the first set of rules and regulations for the game we now know as football.
Creswick and Prest are the founders of the Sheffield Football Club, which is acknowledged by the FA and FIFA as the oldest association football club in the world. After Sheffield FC was formed, several pioneers followed.
Let’s take a look at the 10 oldest football clubs in the world:
10. Civil Service FC 1863
The first entry to our list is 10th ranked Civil Service FC , which traces its history to 1863 in London. The Civil Service Football Club is one of two clubs ( the other is Blackheath FC ) to be a founding member of The Football Association and the Rugby Football Union.
Civil Service was one of the first participants of the first ever FA Cup contest in 1872. The club played a major role in promoting football throughout Europe through their first intercontinental tour in 1901. In recognition of their contributions to the sport, the club is an honorary member of Slavia Prague and Real Madrid.
CSFC won the London Senior Cup in 1901, the Middlesex Senior Cup twice in 1908 and 1913 and the Amateur Football Association Club in 1910, 1920 and 1930. In 1997, they captured the AFA Senior Cup for the first time in 67 years.
9. Royal Engineers Association FC 1863
The Royal Engineers Association Football Club is an association football club that represents the ‘Sappers’ or the Corps of Royal Engineers of the British Army. The club was founded in 1863 under Major Francis Marindin.
According to Sir Frederick Wall, the secretary of the Football Association from 1895 to 1934, the Sappers were the first to use the ‘combination game’ where teammates passed the ball to one another rather than kicking and charging the ball ahead. The Royal Engineers Association FC was one of the strongest sides in the 1870’s, making the FA Cup Finals in four of the Cup’s first eight seasons, including three in the first four years. They won the FA Cup in 1875 and captured the 1902-1903 Munster Senior Cup plus the 2908 FA Amateur Cup.
8. Stoke City FC 1863
Stoke City FC is the second oldest professional club in the world, next to our #7th oldest club Notts County FC. The club was founded in 1863 and is based in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England.
The team was initially known as Stoke Ramblers but they changed its name to Stoke in 1878. When Stoke-on-Trent was given city status, the club changed its name to Stoke City. Stoke City plays in the top flight of English football, the Premier League. Their home ground is the 28,116 seater bet365 Stadium. Before their current home, the club was based in Victoria Ground since 1878.
Stoke City’s only major title so far has been the 1972 League Cup. Their other honors include three Football League Second Division titles, one Watney Cup and 15 regional titles from the Staffordshire Senior Cup.
7. Notts County FC 1862
The Notts County Football Club is the oldest association football club currently playing at the professional level.
Founded in 1862, the team hails from Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England. Between 1888 to 2014, they've played more Football League matches than any other English Team at 4,756. They play in League Two, the English football league's fourth tier. In 1872, they played Scotland in the first ever international football match. Notts County has a total of 13 promotions and 16 relegations. No other team has moved between The Football League's more than them.
Their biggest triumph was winning the 1894 FA Cup and finishing second in the 1891 FA Cup.
6. Worksop Town FC 1861
Photo: Worksop Guardian
Founded in 1861, the Worksop Town Football Club is an English football club based in Worksop, Nottinghamshire. They play in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division which is at the level 9 of the English football league system.
The club joined the Sheffield & District Football League in 1892 after an unsuccessful campaign at the Midland League. They rejoined the latter in 1900 and became a prominent squad until World War I. They became one of the founding members of the Northern Premier League in 1968 and the Conference North in 2004. After being relegated to the NPL three years later, they suffered a financial crisis that forced them to resign to the level 9 NCEL Premier Division.
Among others, Worksop FC were Midland League champions three times, Sheffield Association League winners twice, Sheffield and Hallamshire Cup champions 12 times, Northern Premier League Chairman's Cup winners once and Northern Premier League President's Cup title holders once.
5. Hallam FC 1860
The Hallam Football Club of Crosspool, Sheffield, Yorkshire is the derby rival of Sheffield FC. The two play in the oldest fixture in the world called the Rules Derby.
Founded in 1860, Hallam FC traces its roots way back in 1804 to the Hallam Cricket Club. The club later decided to form a football club to rival Sheffield FC and the two played for the first time on Boxing Day in 1860. In 1867, Hallam FC earned the distinction of being the team to win the first ever football tournament in history- the Youdan Cup. The club has played at Sandygate Road ever since their inception and their home ground is recognized the the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest football ground in the world.
Aside from winning the first ever soccer tournament, Hallam FC's achievements include four Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cups, one Northern Counties East League Cup, one Sheffield League Association championship and one Sheffield Amateur League championship.
4. Cray Wanderers 1860
Photo: Orpington History
The Cray Wanderers Football club is a semi-professional football club based in Bromley, London.
The origin of Cray Wanderers can be traced to the construction of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway line from 1858 to 1860. The club originated in the St. Cray village when workers would kick a ball around during their free time. Cray Wanderer's original home at Star Lane is now a cemetery. They currently play their games at a 5,000 capacity ground at Bromley's Hayes Lane. They currently play for the Isthmian League Division One
The Club's awards include two London League titles, four Kent League championships, two London Spartans League titles and a runner-up finish in the Isthmian League Division One South in 2008-2009.
3. Lima CFC 1859
The Lima Cricket and Football Club is the oldest football club in Peru and in the Americas. It was established in 1859 by Lima's British community. They currently play in the local league of Lima's San Isidro District.
The club hosts the National T20 Cricket League during the months of January to April. It has also hosted a number of cricket events featuring the Peruvian national cricket team, the most recent of which was the 2014 South American a Championship. Although it was founded much earlier and members had played much earlier, the first recorded match was on August 7, 1892. The club then added a football department the following year. Since then it has become an inspiration for future clubs in the country.
The Lima CFC won the Peruvian Primera Division twice in 1912 and 1914. They were runners up in 2013. Regionally, they have won three Liga Distral de San Isidro in 2007, 2008 and 2012.
2. Cambridge University AFC 1857
If we base our list on the claim of the club itself, then the Cambridge University AFC may be the oldest football club in the world. According to its website, the club was founded between 1856-1857. The claim is based on the copy of the Cambridge Rules entitled 'The Laws of University Football Club' dated 1856 held by the Shrewsburg School.
The University's connection with the rules of football even dates backwards to 1846 when Henry De Winton and John Charles Thring formed a club. The club was said to have held a meeting in 1848 to establish a definitive set of rules and regulations for the game of football. The meeting was supposedly held in Cambridge. Up to that point, football was unorganized and without structure. But De Winton and Thring came up with 10 simple rules which was later called the 'Cambridge Rules'. Meanwhile, the Cambridge University Association Football Club was formalized in the 1860's and in 1874, the first varsity match against Oxford took place.
While there are questions surrounding the history of Cambridge University AFC, the National Football Museum recognized the club as the oldest football club in the world in a special award given in 2016.
1. Sheffield FC 1857
Sheffield Football Club ( Sheffield FC ) is recognized by the FA and FIFA as the world’s oldest club. Founded in 1857 by Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest, the club established the Sheffield Rules which became the first set of official rules for the game of football. Sheffield FC and near neighbor Hallam compete in the Rules Derby, which is the oldest football fixture in the world. In 2004, Sheffield FC became only the second team ( Real Madrid being the first ) in history to be awarded with the FIFA Order of Merit. In 2007, the club was inducted to the English Football Hall of Fame.
The club competes in the Northern Premier League Division One South and play at the Coach and Horses Ground at Dronfield. Sheffield FC has won 1 FA Amateur Cup, 1 Yorkshire League Cup, 2 Northern Counties East League Cup and 5 Sheffield and Hallamshire Seniors Cups.