Football in England
Today Englands top domestic league, the Premier League, is one of the most popular and richest sports leagues in the world, with six of the ten richest football clubs in the world. The England national football team is one of only 8 teams to win the World Cup, a total of five English club teams have won the UEFA Champions League. Football was played in England as far back as medieval times, kicking ball games are described in England from 1280. An account of an exclusively kicking game from Nottinghamshire in the fifteenth century bears similarity to association football. By the 16th centuries references to organised teams and goals had appeared, there is evidence for refereed, team football games being played in English schools since at least 1581. The eighteenth-century Gymnastic Society of London is, arguably, the worlds first football club, the Cambridge rules, first drawn up at Cambridge University in 1848, were particularly influential in the development of subsequent codes, including association football. The Cambridge Rules were written at Trinity College, Cambridge, at a meeting attended by representatives from Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Winchester, during the 1850s, many clubs unconnected to schools or universities were formed throughout the English-speaking world, to play various forms of football. In 1862, John Charles Thring of Uppingham School also devised a set of rules. These ongoing efforts contributed to the formation of The Football Association in 1863, the Sheffield FA played by its own rules until the 1870s with the FA absorbing some of its rules until there was little difference between the games. A match between Sheffield and Hallam F. C. on 29 December 1862 was one of the first matches to be recorded in a newspaper, on 8 March 1873, the England national teams 4–2 win over Scotland at the Oval was the first ever victory in international football. The late nineteenth century was dominated by the split between the amateur and professional teams, which was roughly aligned along a North-South divide. Northern clubs were keen to adopt professionalism as workers could not afford to play on an amateur basis, preston North End were inaugural winners in 1888–89, and were also the first club to complete the double of both winning the league and the FA Cup. Aston Villa repeated the feat in 1896–97 and it remained at 40 until the league was suspended after the 1914–15 season with the outbreak of World War I. Other clubs to win titles in this period include Sheffield United, Manchester United. During the war, competitive football was suspended, however, an unofficial Wartime Football league was played from 1915–16 to 1918–19, although the FA Cup was suspended until after the war. The next season the league was expanded with the Third Division divided into North and South sections. In the 1923–24 season the Third Division North was expanded to 22 clubs, Bolton Wanderers defeated West Ham United to win this landmark game. Bolton Wanderers would win the FA Cup on three occasions during the 1920s, by the turn of the 1930s, the national side regularly played against other national teams from outside the British Isles
Aston Villa F.C.
Aston Villa Football Club is a professional association football club based in Aston, Birmingham, that plays in the Championship, the second level of English football. Founded in 1874, they have played at their current home ground, Villa Park, Aston Villa were one of the founder members of the Football League in 1888. They were also one of the members of the Premier League in 1992. Aston Villa are one of only five English clubs to be crowned champions of Europe and they have also won the First Division Championship seven times, the FA Cup seven times, the Football League Cup five times, and the UEFA Super Cup once. They have a local rivalry with Birmingham City and the Second City derby between the sides has been played since 1879. The clubs traditional kit colours are claret shirts with sky blue sleeves, white shorts and their traditional badge is of a rampant lion, which was introduced by the clubs Scottish chairman William McGregor in honour of the Royal Standard of Scotland. The club is owned by Recon Group Limited, a company chaired by Chinese businessman Tony Xia. Aston Villa Football Club were formed in March 1874, by members of the Villa Cross Wesleyan Chapel in Handsworth which is now part of Birmingham, the four founders of Aston Villa were Jack Hughes, Frederick Matthews, Walter Price and William Scattergood. Aston Villas first match was against the local Aston Brook St Marys Rugby team, as a condition of the match, the Villa side had to agree to play the first half under Rugby rules and the second half under Association rules. The club won their first FA Cup in 1887 with captain Archie Hunter becoming one of the games first household names. Aston Villa were one of the teams that competed in the inaugural Football League in 1888 with one of the clubs directors. Aston Villa emerged as the most successful English club of the Victorian era, winning no fewer than five League titles, in 1897, the year Villa won The Double, they moved into their present home, the Aston Lower Grounds. Supporters coined the name Villa Park, no official declaration listed the ground as Villa Park. This was largely the result of a defensive record, they conceded 110 goals in 42 games,7 of them coming from Arsenals Ted Drake in an infamous 1–7 defeat at Villa Park. Like all English clubs, Villa lost seven seasons to the Second World War, the team was rebuilt under the guidance of former player Alex Massie for the remainder of the 1940s. The team struggled in the league though and were relegated two seasons later, due in part to complacency. However, under the stewardship of manager Joe Mercer Villa returned to the top-flight in 1960 as Second Division Champions, the following season Aston Villa became the first team to win the Football League Cup. Mercers forced retirement from the club in 1964 signalled a period of deep turmoil, the most successful club in England was struggling to keep pace with changes in the modern game, with Villa being relegated for the third time, under manager Dick Taylor in 1967
Notts County F.C.
Notts County Football Club is a professional association football club based in the city of Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England. With records of games as early as 28 November 1862, Notts County is recognised as the oldest association football team in the world now playing at a professional level. Between 1888–89 and 2013–14 they played a total of 4,756 Football League matches – more than any other English team, the team plays in League Two, the fourth tier of the English football league system. County play their games at Meadow Lane in black and white striped shirts. The club has had spells in the top division of English football, most recently in 1991–92. Notable former managers of Notts County include Jimmy Sirrel, Howard Wilkinson, Neil Warnock, Howard Kendall, the club has had several owners. In the 21st century, a series of problems has seen the club owned by a supporters trust. Notts County are the oldest professional club in the world having been formed in 1862. Notts pre-dated The Football Association and initially played a game of its own devising, at the time of its formation, Notts County, like most sports teams, were considered to be a gentlemen-only club. Notts County are considered to be one of the pioneers of the game and are the oldest of the worlds professional association football clubs. In November 1872, the Notts County full-back Ernest Greenhalgh played for England against Scotland in the international match. In 1888, Notts County, along with 11 other football clubs and they finished their first league season in 11th place, but avoided the dubious honour of the wooden spoon, which went to Midlands rivals Stoke. However, Notts County did achieve their highest ever finish of third in 1890–91. On 25 March 1891, Notts County reached the FA Cup final for the first time, the Magpies were defeated 3–1 by Blackburn Rovers at The Oval, despite having beaten the same side 7–1 in the league only a week earlier. This achievement is also memorable for Notts County becoming the first club outside the top division to win the FA Cup, in 1910 they moved to Meadow Lane. Notts County were relegated in 1926 in what was to be their last season in the English top flight for half a century. The 1925–26 season was the last season that famed giant goalkeeper Albert Iremonger played for the club, in the 1946–47 season, the ground was used temporarily by Nottingham Forest after the River Trent flooded both Meadow Lane and the City Ground. Forest again used Meadow Lane in 1968, after fire destroyed the main stand at the City Ground, the golden age of the club came just after the end of World War II
Middlesbrough Football Club is a professional association football club based in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, England. Formed in 1876, they have played at the Riverside Stadium since 1995 and they played at the Linthorpe Road ground from 1882 to 1903 and at Ayresome Park for 92 years, from 1903 to 1995. They were one of the members of the Premier League in 1992. The clubs main rivals are Sunderland and Newcastle United, there is also a rivalry with fellow Yorkshire club Leeds United. The clubs highest league finish to date was third in the 1913–14 season, the club came close to folding in 1986 after experiencing severe financial difficulties before it was saved by a consortium led by then board member and later chairman Steve Gibson. Middlesbrough were deducted three points for failing to fulfil a fixture against Blackburn Rovers in the 1996–97 Premier League season and they were promoted the following season and spent 11 seasons in the top division before being relegated again in 2009. Middlesbrough won the League Cup in 2004, the clubs first and they reached the 2006 UEFA Cup Final, but were beaten by Spanish side Sevilla. After seven years in the Championship, Middlesbrough secured promotion to the Premier League in 2016 after finishing in second place, the clubs traditional kit is red with white detailing. The various crests throughout the history, the most recent of which was adopted in 2007. They won the FA Amateur Cup in 1895 and again in 1898, the club turned professional in 1889, but reverted to amateur status in 1892. They turned professional permanently in 1899, after three seasons, they won promotion to the First Division, where they would remain for the next 22 years. In 1903, the moved to Ayresome Park, their home for the next 92 years. In 1905, the club sanctioned the transfer of Alf Common for £1,000, over the next few years, their form fluctuated greatly, rising to sixth in 1907–08 before dropping to 17th two seasons later. The club rose to their highest league finish to date, third, World War I soon intervened and football was suspended. Before league football resumed, Middlesbrough won the Northern Victory League and they remained in the First Division for the next few seasons, but were relegated in 1923–24 after finishing bottom, ten points adrift of their nearest rivals. Three seasons later, they won the Division Two title, during that season, debutant George Camsell, who had signed from Third Division North side Durham City the previous season, finished with a record 59 league goals, which included nine hat-tricks. He would continue as top scorer for each of the ten seasons. Their tenure back in the top flight lasted one season
Doncaster Rovers F.C.
Doncaster Rovers Football Club is a professional association football club based in the town of Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England. The team competes in League Two, the tier of the English football league system. The club was founded in 1879 and turned professional in 1885, the clubs colours have traditionally been red and white. Their home strip is red and white hoops, which has been the design of the clubs home shirt since 2001. The associated Doncaster Rovers Belles L. F. C. are one of the most successful clubs in English football. The club was formed in 1879 by Albert Jenkins, a fitter at Doncasters Great Northern Railway works and he gathered together some friends to play a match against the Yorkshire Institute for the Deaf and Dumb in September 1879. On walking back from the game, the took a rest at the Hall Cross. The first match under the name was on 3 October 1879, gradually, they became the main team in the town, and appear to have had their first professional players in 1887–88. Rovers first entered the FA Cup in 1888–89, losing 9–1 to Rotherham Town at home, season 1890–91 was to be a significant move forward. The club were a member of the Midland Alliance League. The following season, saw them enter the Sheffield and Hallamshire FA Challenge Cup and that same season, they also moved up to the Midland League, becoming Champions in 1896–97 and 1898–99. They were first elected to the Football League in 1901, as a replacement for New Brighton Tower and their first season in the League was in fact the one when Doncaster achieved their highest position ever. They only lasted two seasons in the league before being voted out in favour of local rivals Bradford City and they spent the following season in the Midland League, only managing 11th place out of 18 but were elected back to Division 2. This time, in 1904–05, Doncaster finished bottom with W3 D2 L29, adrift by 12 points and they were voted out once again. The following several seasons saw them finish lower midtable of the Midland League, the last few years before the war mediocrity returned, and in August 1914 debts run up over the years led to voluntary liquidation. However, a new club was formed in time for the 1914–15 season and was accepted into the Midland League to continue where the old club had left off. The outbreak of the First World War meant the club closed down, the Club reformed as a limited company after the war in 1919, rejoining the Midland League a year later playing at their new temporary Bennetthorpe Ground. The first two seasons Rovers finished lower-mid table, the third season they moved to Belle Vue, finished runners up and were accepted into the Football League Division 3 North for 1923–24 to replace Stalybridge Celtic
Their home ground since 2001 has been St Marys Stadium, before which they were based at The Dell. Southampton has a rivalry with Portsmouth due to its close proximity. Matches between the two sides are known as the South Coast derby, the club has won the FA Cup once, in 1976, and their highest-ever league finish was second in the First Division in 1983–84. Southampton were relegated from the Premier League on 15 May 2005 and they returned after a seven-year absence, and have played there ever since. Southampton were founded at St. Marys Church, on 21 November 1885 by members of the St. Marys Church of England Young Mens Association. More important matches, such as cup games, were played either at the County Cricket Ground in Northlands Road or the Antelope Cricket Ground in St Marys Road. During this time, they moved to a newly built £10,000 stadium called The Dell, the club reached the first of their four FA Cup Finals in 1900. On that day, they went down 4–0 to Bury and two later they would suffer a similar fate at the hands of Sheffield United as they were beaten 2–1 in a replay of the 1902 final. After World War I, Saints joined the newly formed Football League Third Division in 1920 which split into South and North sections a year later, the 1921–22 season ended in triumph with promotion and marked the beginning of a 31-year stay in the Second Division. The 1922–23 season was a unique Even Season –14 wins,14 draws and 14 defeats for a total of 42 points, goals for and against statistics were also equal and the team finished in mid-table. In 1925 and 1927, they reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, losing 2–0 and 2–1 to Sheffield United, in the 1948–49 and 1949–50 seasons, Charlie Wayman rattled in a total of 56 goals. Then relegation in 1953 sent Saints sliding back into Division 3 and it took until 1960 for Saints to regain Second Division status with Derek Reeves plundering 39 of the champions’106 league goals. On 27 April 1963 a crowd of 68,000 at Villa Park saw them lose 1–0 to Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final. In 1966, when Ted Bates’ team were promoted to the First Division as runners-up, for the following campaign Ron Davies arrived to score 43 goals in his first season. Saints stayed among the elite for eight years, with the highest finishing position being seventh place in 1968–69 and again in 1970–71. These finishes were high enough for them to qualify for the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1969–70 and its successor, the UEFA Cup in 1971–72, in December 1973, Bates stood down to be replaced by his assistant Lawrie McMenemy. The Saints were one of the first victims of the new three-down relegation system in 1974, the following season, they played in Europe again in the Cup Winners Cup, reaching Round 3 where they lost 2–3 on aggregate to Anderlecht. In 1977–78, captained by Alan Ball, Saints finished runners-up in the Second Division and they finished comfortably in 14th place in their first season back in the top flight