Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies making it the worlds most popular sport, the game is played on a rectangular field with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by getting the ball into the opposing goal, players are not allowed to touch the ball with their hands or arms while it is in play, unless they are goalkeepers. Other players mainly use their feet to strike or pass the ball, the team that scores the most goals by the end of the match wins. If the score is level at the end of the game, the Laws of the Game were originally codified in England by The Football Association in 1863. Association football is governed internationally by the International Federation of Association Football, the first written reference to the inflated ball used in the game was in the mid-14th century, Þe heued fro þe body went, Als it were a foteballe. The Online Etymology Dictionary states that the word soccer was split off in 1863, according to Partha Mazumdar, the term soccer originated in England, first appearing in the 1880s as an Oxford -er abbreviation of the word association. Within the English-speaking world, association football is now usually called football in the United Kingdom and mainly soccer in Canada and the United States. People in Australia, Ireland, South Africa and New Zealand use either or both terms, although national associations in Australia and New Zealand now primarily use football for the formal name. According to FIFA, the Chinese competitive game cuju is the earliest form of football for which there is scientific evidence, cuju players could use any part of the body apart from hands and the intent was kicking a ball through an opening into a net. It was remarkably similar to football, though similarities to rugby occurred. During the Han Dynasty, cuju games were standardised and rules were established, phaininda and episkyros were Greek ball games. An image of an episkyros player depicted in low relief on a vase at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens appears on the UEFA European Championship Cup, athenaeus, writing in 228 AD, referenced the Roman ball game harpastum. Phaininda, episkyros and harpastum were played involving hands and violence and they all appear to have resembled rugby football, wrestling and volleyball more than what is recognizable as modern football. As with pre-codified mob football, the antecedent of all football codes. Non-competitive games included kemari in Japan, chuk-guk in Korea and woggabaliri in Australia, Association football in itself does not have a classical history. Notwithstanding any similarities to other games played around the world FIFA have recognised that no historical connection exists with any game played in antiquity outside Europe. The modern rules of football are based on the mid-19th century efforts to standardise the widely varying forms of football played in the public schools of England
English Football League
The English Football League is a league competition featuring professional football clubs from England and Wales. Founded in 1888 as the Football League, the league is the oldest such competition in world football and it was the top-level football league in England from its foundation in the 19th century until 1992, when the top 22 clubs split away to form the Premier League. The league has 72 clubs evenly divided into three divisions, which are known as the Championship, League One and League Two, with 24 clubs in each division, the Football League has been associated with a title sponsor between 1983 and 2016. As this sponsor changed over the years the league too has been known by various names, the English Football League is also the name of the governing body of the league competition, and this body also organises two knock-out cup competitions, the EFL Cup and the EFL Trophy. The operations centre of the Football League is in Preston, while its commercial office is in London, the commercial office was formerly based in Lytham St Annes, after its original spell in Preston. The Football League consists of 70 professional association football clubs in England and 2 in Wales and it runs the oldest professional football league competition in the world. It also organises two knockout cup competitions, the Football League Cup and Football League Trophy, the Football League was founded in 1888 by then Aston Villa director William McGregor, originally with 12 member clubs. Steady growth and the addition of more divisions meant that by 1950 the League had 92 clubs, the Football League therefore no longer includes the top 20 clubs who belong to this group, although promotion and relegation between the Football League and the Premier League continues. In total,136 teams have played in the Football League up to 2013, the Football Leagues 72 member clubs are grouped into three divisions, the Football League Championship, Football League One, and Football League Two. Each division has 24 clubs, and in any season a club plays each of the others in the same division twice, once at their home stadium. This makes for a total of 46 games played each season, clubs gain three points for a win, one for a draw, and none for a defeat. At the end of the season, clubs at the top of their division may win promotion to the higher division. At the top end of the competition, three Championship clubs win promotion from the Football League to the Premier League, with the bottom three Premier League clubs taking their places, reserve teams of Football League clubs usually play in the Central League or the Football Combination. Since the 2004–05 season, penalties have existed for clubs entering financial administration during the season and it is also required that a club exiting administration agree a Creditors Voluntary Agreement, and pay in full any other footballing creditors. Failure to do either of these result in a second. The other main situation in which is a club may lose points is by fielding an improperly registered or otherwise ineligible player. If a club is found to have done this, then any points earned from any match that player participated in will be deducted, the EFL organises two knock-out cup competitions, the EFL Cup and the EFL Trophy. The EFL Cup was established in 1960 and is open to all EFL and Premier League clubs, the EFL Trophy is for clubs belonging to EFL League One and EFL League Two
Stoke City F.C.
Stoke City Football Club is a professional football club based in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, that plays in the Premier League, the top flight of English football. Founded as Stoke Ramblers in 1863 the club changed its name to Stoke in 1878 and they are the second oldest professional football club in the world, after Notts County, and are one of the founding members of the Football League. Their first, and to date only major trophy, the League Cup was won in 1972, the clubs highest league finish in the top division is 4th, which was achieved in the 1935–36 and 1946–47 seasons. Stoke played in the FA Cup Final in 2011, finishing runners-up to Manchester City and have reached three FA Cup semi-finals, in 1899 then consecutively in 1971 and 1972. Stoke have competed in European football on three occasions, firstly in 1972–73 then in 1974–75 and most recently in 2011–12, the club has won the Football League Trophy twice, in 1992 and in 2000. Stokes home ground is the bet365 Stadium, a 28,116 all-seater stadium, before the stadium was opened in 1997, the club was based at the Victoria Ground, which had been their home ground since 1878. The clubs nickname is The Potters, named after the industry in Stoke-on-Trent and their traditional home kit is a red and white vertically striped shirt, white shorts. Stokes traditional rivals are Midlands clubs West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers whilst their local rivals are Port Vale with whom they contest the Potteries derby, the clubs first documented match was in October 1868, against an EW May XV at the Victoria Cricket Club ground. Henry Almond, the founder, was also captain. During this period they played at the Victoria Cricket Ground, however, in 1878, the club merged with Stoke Victoria Cricket Club, and became Stoke Football Club. They moved from their previous ground, Sweetings Field, to the Athletic Club ground and it was around this time that the club adopted their traditional red-and-white striped kit. In August 1885, the club turned professional, Stoke were one of the twelve founding members of the Football League when it was introduced in 1888. The club struggled in their first two seasons, 1888–89 and 1889–90, finishing bottom on both occasions, in 1890 Stoke failed to be re-elected and joined the Football Alliance, which they won and thus were re-elected to the Football League. Stoke spent the next 15 seasons in the First Division and reached the FA Cup Semi-Final in the 1898–99 season before being relegated in 1907, Stoke went bankrupt and entered non-league football until 1914, when the First World War meant the Football League was suspended for four years. During the wartime period, Stoke entered the Lancashire Primary and Secondary leagues, when football recommenced in August 1919, Stoke re-joined the league. The club became owners of the Victoria Ground in 1919 and this was followed by the construction of the Butler Street stand, which increased the overall capacity of the ground to 50,000. In 1925, Stoke-on-Trent was granted city status and this led the club to change its name to Stoke City F. C, the 1930s saw the debut of clubs most celebrated player, Stanley Matthews. Matthews, who grew up in Hanley, was an apprentice at the club and made his first appearance in March 1932, against Bury, by end of the decade, Matthews had established himself as an England international and as one of the best footballers of his generation
Sheffield Wednesday F.C.
Sheffield Wednesday Football Club is a professional association football club based in Sheffield, England. The team competes in the Championship, the tier of the English football league system. Formed as an offshoot of The Wednesday Cricket Club in 1867, in 1868 they won the Cromwell Cup, only the second tournament of its kind, and in 1877 they won the inaugural Sheffield Challenge Cup, the oldest county cup in England. They were founding members and inaugural champions of the Football Alliance in 1889, in 1992 they became founder members of the Premier League. The club has spent most of its history in English footballs top flight. The Owls, as they are nicknamed, have won four league titles, Wednesday have also competed in UEFA cup competitions on four occasions, reaching the quarter-finals of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1963. Since 1899 the club has played its matches at Hillsborough stadium. Although no contemporary evidence has found to support the claim. Nevertheless, an 1842 article in Bells Life magazine states the club was founded as far back as 1816, the club was so named because it was on Wednesdays that the founding members had their day off work. They were initially based at the New Ground in Darnall, and often went by the name of Darnall Wednesday, in 1855 they were one of six clubs that helped build Bramall Lane, and held a wicket there for many years. The proposal proved very popular, with over 60 members signing up for the new team on the first night and they played their first match against The Mechanics on 19 October the same year, winning by three goals and four rouges to nil. On 1 February 1868, Wednesday played their first competitive match as they entered the Cromwell Cup. A week after their semi-final, they went on to win the cup, beating the Garrick club in the final after extra time, a key figure during the formative years of the football club was Charles Clegg, who joined the Wednesday in 1867. His relationship with the club lasted for the rest of his life and he also became president and chairman of the Football Association, and was known as the Napoleon of Football. In 1876 Wednesday acquired Scot James Lang, although he was not employed by the club, he was given a job by a member of the Sheffield Wednesday board that had no formal duties. He is now acknowledged as the first professional player in England. With Lang in their team the club became one of the strongest in the region. In 1880 the club entered the FA Cup for the first time, but although they had had Lang on their books a decade earlier, the club officially remained staunchly amateur, and this stance almost cost the club its very existence
Northern Football League
The Northern League is a mens football league in north east England for semi-professional and amateur teams. Having been founded in 1889, it is the oldest surviving football league in the world after the Football League and it contains two divisions, Division One and Division Two. Division One sits on the tier of the English football league system. These leagues cover County Durham, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, northern Cumbria, One of the top three teams of Division One may be eligible for promotion to Division One North of the Northern Premier League, subject to certain criteria. The Northern League ran as one of two major competitions in tandem with the professional Football League, Southern League and, since 1968. In 1974, amateur status was abandoned by the Football Association, ultimately, the Northern League remained out of the football pyramid until 1991, a decision that proved very costly to its status. The league declined throughout the 1980s as its leading clubs defected to other leagues within the football pyramid, Northern League clubs now compete for the FA Vase. The League had a sponsorship deal put in place by Brooks Mileson, owner of the Albany Group. In that year, Mileson announced that he had created a trust which would continue to sponsor the league throughout his lifetime, in 2008, however, the league announced that this sponsorship had come to an end, and it held a raffle to determine its next sponsor. Interested parties were invited to buy a stake in the raffle for £250, the winning stake was held by a local training company and the league was known as the skilltrainingltd Northern League from the 2008–09 season until the 2011–12 season. The league is sponsored by dehumidifier manufacturer Ebac. Level 11 clubs from the Northern Football Alliance, Teesside Football League, originally the league comprised a single division. The champions were as follows, In 1897, the league split into two divisions. In 1900, the league reverted to a single division, in 1905 the league split into two sections, one for professionals and one for amateurs. This lasted for a single season, in 1906 the league reverted to a single division, a format retained until 1982. In 1982 the league added a second division