18 Oldest Football Clubs in the World

Oldest Football Clubs

Curious about the world’s oldest football club? Join us on a journey through time as we explore the remarkable history of these footballing pioneers. These clubs have been around for ages and hold a special place in the hearts of football fans worldwide. Discover how they began, the traditions they’ve upheld, and why they’re such a vital part of the beautiful game’s history. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or just starting to learn about football’s roots, you’ll find their stories intriguing and inspiring. Get ready to step back in time and uncover the fascinating history of the “Oldest Football Club in the World.

1. Cambridge University AFC (1856)

Cambridge university afc team 1924
Cambridge University AFC team 1924

Image Source: Wikimedia.org

Cambridge University Association Football Club (CUAFC) was founded in 1856 and has a long and important history in English football. As one of the oldest football clubs in the world, it played a pivotal role in shaping the sport’s early development. The club’s achievements extend beyond victories on the pitch, as it was instrumental in codifying the rules of the game during meetings with its Oxford counterparts in the mid-19th century, laying the foundation for modern football. CUAFC’s rich heritage includes multiple Varsity Match wins against Oxford, reflecting their dominance in collegiate football. These accomplishments, coupled with their enduring influence on the sport’s evolution, solidify Cambridge University AFC as a revered institution in the annals of football history.

2. Sheffield FC (1857)

Sheffield FC
Sheffield FC

Image Source: Wikimedia.org

Founded in 1857, Sheffield Football Club holds the distinction of being the world’s oldest football club, and its history is a testament to the sport’s enduring legacy. Established by Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest, this club played a pivotal role in shaping football’s early development, contributing significantly to the formulation of fundamental rules that would guide the game’s evolution. Sheffield FC’s achievements extend beyond its historical significance, as it won the Youdan Cup in 1867, one of the first recognized football competitions, and continued to compete at a high level in its early years. As a pioneer in the sport, Sheffield FC continues to be a symbol of the enduring passion and tradition that define football, earning its place in the annals of sporting history.

3. Wanderers FC (1859)

Forest fc team in 1863 than wanderers fc
Forest FC Team in 1863 than Wanderers FC

Image Source: Wikimedia.org

Wanderers Football Club, established in 1859, is an iconic name in the annals of football history. Founded by former Harrow School students, it quickly emerged as a dominant force in the early years of the sport, winning the FA Cup in both 1872 and 1873. The club’s historic FA Cup victory in 1872 holds particular significance as it was the inaugural edition of the tournament, cementing Wanderers FC as the first-ever FA Cup champions. Their pioneering spirit and success set the stage for the competition’s future prominence. The Wanderers’ remarkable achievements underscore their vital role in shaping the evolution of football and establishing the FA Cup as one of the most prestigious trophies in the sport’s history.

4. Melbourne Football Club (1859)

Melbourne FC Founder, Tom Wills
Melbourne FC Founder, Tom Wills

Image Source: melbournefc.com.au

Founded in 1859, the Melbourne Football Club is not only one of the oldest football clubs in the world but also a foundational institution in the development of Australian rules football. This club, originating in Victoria, played an integral role in codifying the rules of the game and hosted the first-ever recorded football match under these rules in 1859. Melbourne FC’s rich history includes multiple premierships in the early years of Australian rules football, further solidifying its status as a pioneer of the sport. Their enduring legacy as a founding member of the Victorian Football League (now the Australian Football League) and their commitment to fostering Australian football traditions highlight their pivotal role in shaping the nation’s sporting culture.

5. Hallam FC (1860)

Hallam FC
Hallam FC

Image Source: hallamfc.co.uk

Founded in 1860, Hallam Football Club is a testament to the enduring passion for football in Sheffield, England. As one of the world’s oldest football clubs, Hallam has a storied history that runs deep in the roots of the sport. Although its competitive achievements may not rival some of the more renowned clubs, Hallam’s significance lies in its historical contributions. It was involved in the formulation of early football rules and participated in the world’s first inter-club match against Sheffield FC in 1860. This pivotal encounter paved the way for the development of organized football. Today, Hallam FC stands as a cherished part of football history, embodying the spirit and tradition of the beautiful game.

6. Cray Wanderers FC (1860)

Cray Wanderers FC (1860 - 1889)
Cray Wanderers FC (1860 – 1889)

Image Source: cray-wanderers.com

Established in 1860, Cray Wanderers Football Club holds a unique place in football history as one of England’s oldest football clubs still in existence. Based in London, Cray Wanderers has maintained its grassroots ethos throughout its remarkable journey, becoming known as “The Wands” among its loyal supporters. While the club’s achievements may not include top-tier titles, its longevity and dedication to the local community are a testament to its enduring spirit. Over the years, Cray Wanderers has embraced its role as a community club, nurturing young talent and fostering a deep connection with its fans. This dedication to grassroots football and the local area showcases Cray Wanderers’ significance beyond trophies, making it a cherished institution in the world of football.

7. Notts County FC (1862)

Notts County FC (1862)
The group of players who became champions in the 1894 FA Cup.

Image Source: Wikimedia.org

Established in 1862, Notts County Football Club holds a place of great significance in the annals of football history as one of the oldest professional football clubs in the world. Hailing from Nottingham, England, Notts County boasts a rich heritage and has experienced a multitude of highs and lows throughout its existence. The club’s achievements include being a founding member of The Football League in 1888, an institution that would later become the Premier League. Additionally, Notts County has claimed numerous lower-league titles and has had notable runs in domestic cup competitions. Although they haven’t reached the pinnacle of English football in recent years, their longevity and passionate fan base cement Notts County’s status as a cherished and resilient institution in the world of soccer.

8. Civil Service FC (1863)

Civil Service FC
Civil Service FC

Image Source: bbc.com

Founded in 1863, the Civil Service Football Club is one of the oldest football clubs in the world, based in London. It’s special because it represents people who work for the government. While it might have won fewer trophies than big professional clubs, it’s important for bringing government employees together through sports. The club also played a big part in creating The Football Association (FA) in 1863, and one of their players, C.W. Alcock, is famous for organizing the first-ever football match between England and Scotland in 1872. They also care about local community football and being a part of the community. So, Civil Service FC is respected for its role in football history and its connection to public service.

9. Royal Engineers AFC (1863)

Royal Engineers AFC
The Royal Engineers were captured in a photograph in 1872.

Image Source: Wikimedia.org

Founded in 1863, the Royal Engineers Association Football Club (RE AFC) is one of the oldest football clubs globally. Originating from the British Army’s Corps of Royal Engineers, the club played a vital role in shaping football’s early days by contributing to the creation of football rules and being part of the formation of The Football Association (FA). In addition to their pioneering role, they achieved sporting success, winning the prestigious FA Cup in both 1875 and 1878, marking significant milestones in football history. RE AFC’s legacy is defined by its historical contributions to the sport’s development and its prowess on the field, making it an essential chapter in the story of football.

10. Stoke City FC (1863)

Stoke City FC Team (1877 - 78)
Stoke City FC Team (1877 – 78)

Image Source: Wikimedia.org

Established in 1863, Stoke City Football Club has a rich history deeply rooted in English football. The club, based in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, played a pivotal role in the early development of the sport. While they have experienced various ups and downs throughout their existence, Stoke City’s notable achievements include winning the Football League in 1972 and reaching the FA Cup final in 2011. Known as “The Potters,” they have consistently competed in the top tiers of English football, earning a dedicated fan base. Stoke City FC’s legacy is marked by their contributions to football and their enduring presence in the competitive landscape of the sport.

11. Nottingham Forest FC (1865)

Nottingham Forest FC's 1898 Cup champions
Nottingham Forest FC’s 1898 Cup champions.

Image Source: Wikimedia.org

Established in 1865, Nottingham Forest Football Club has made an enduring impact on English football. Based in Nottingham, the club reached great heights in the late 1970s and early 1980s under the legendary manager Brian Clough, winning back-to-back European Cups in 1979 and 1980. They also secured the Football League First Division (now the Premier League) title in 1978 and claimed the FA Cup multiple times. Beyond their trophies, Nottingham Forest has played a crucial role in developing football talent, solidifying its esteemed position in the rich history of the sport.

12. Chesterfield FC (1866)

Chesterfield FC
Chesterfield FC

Image Source: cfchistory.com

Founded in 1866, Chesterfield Football Club, located in Derbyshire, England, has a storied history in the world of football. Known as the “Spireites,” the club has experienced various highs and lows over the years. Notable achievements include winning the Football League Trophy in 2012, and they’ve consistently competed in the Football League throughout their existence. Chesterfield FC has also made their mark in the FA Cup, with a memorable run to the semi-finals in the 1996-1997 season. While their accomplishments might not match those of some larger clubs, their enduring presence in the footballing landscape and passionate fan base highlight their importance as a cherished institution in English football.

13. Queen’s Park FC (1867)

The 1874 Queen's Park Scottish Cup champions.
The 1874 Queen’s Park Scottish Cup champions.

Image Source: Wikimedia.org

Founded in 1867, Queen’s Park Football Club, located in Glasgow, Scotland, is one of the oldest football clubs globally. They’ve won the Scottish Cup ten times early in their history, but what sets them apart is their dedication to amateurism and their significant role in shaping football’s rules. Queen’s Park FC played a crucial part in establishing the Scottish Football Association and creating football regulations. Their commitment to the amateur spirit and their historical importance in Scottish football make them a respected and influential club in the sport’s history.

14. Clapton FC (1878)

The Clapton Team in 1894
The Clapton Team in 1894

Image Source: Wikimedia.org

Established in 1878 and based in London, Clapton Football Club may not have a wall full of major trophies, but their story goes far beyond silverware. They are a club deeply rooted in the community, known for their dedication to grassroots football and inclusivity. Clapton FC creates a space where local talent can shine, providing opportunities for aspiring players to hone their skills and enjoy the beautiful game. Their enduring legacy lies in their commitment to the amateur spirit, the camaraderie they foster among players and fans alike, and their vital role in strengthening the bonds within the community through the love of football. While they may not always make the headlines, Clapton FC’s impact on the local football scene is immeasurable, making them a cherished institution in London’s football landscape.

15. Royal Antwerp FC (1880)

Royal Antwerp F.C, Team in 1956 season
Royal Antwerp F.C, Team in the 1956 season

Image Source: royalantwerpfc.be

Founded in 1880, Royal Antwerp Football Club, commonly known as Antwerp, is one of Belgium’s oldest and most esteemed football clubs. With a storied history spanning over a century, Antwerp has experienced moments of both glory and challenge. Their greatest achievement came in 1993 when they secured the Belgian Pro League title, marking a pinnacle in their history. The club has also won the Belgian Cup multiple times and has consistently competed in Belgian football’s top tiers. Despite periods of adversity, Royal Antwerp FC remains a symbol of tradition and resilience in Belgian football, capturing the hearts of fans and maintaining its status as an important chapter in the nation’s football heritage.

16. Heidelberg United FC (1886)

Heidelberg Football Club Team in 1897
Heidelberg Football Club Team in 1897

Image Source: Wikimedia.org

Established in 1886, Heidelberg United Football Club is a venerable institution in Australian soccer history. Known as the “Bergers,” the club has a rich and enduring legacy. Their crowning achievement came in 1990 when they clinched the National Soccer League (NSL) title, marking a high point in their history. Heidelberg United FC has also earned several state-level championships and cup victories in Victoria, where they are based. Their steadfast commitment to nurturing local talent and fostering community engagement has solidified their reputation as a beloved and respected club in Australian football, embodying the values of tradition and dedication to the beautiful game.

17. Genoa CFC (1893)

Genoa CAC, 1898 Italian Championship pioneers.
Genoa CAC, 1898 Italian Championship pioneers.

Image Source: Wikimedia.org

Established in 1893, Genoa Cricket and Football Club, fondly known as Genoa CFC, is a true Italian football institution. With a history stretching over a century, Genoa has achieved significant success in Serie A, Italy’s top football league, clinching numerous titles and lifting the Coppa Italia multiple times. Their crowning moment came in 1898 when they secured the Scudetto, one of the earliest Italian championships, marking a pivotal point in the club’s legacy. Beyond their trophy cabinet, Genoa has played a vital role in shaping Italian football, nurturing talents, and contributing to the sport’s growth. The club’s enduring dedication to the beautiful game has solidified its place as a revered and cherished institution in the rich tapestry of Italian football history. With passionate fans and a commitment to tradition, Genoa CFC continues to make its mark on the national football scene.

18. Portsmouth FC (1898)

Portsmouth FC Team in 1902.
Portsmouth FC Team in 1902.

Image Source: portsmouthfc.co.uk

Founded in 1898, Portsmouth Football Club, commonly known as Pompey, boasts a rich history intertwined with English football’s fabric. With a strong tradition of success, the club has clinched two top-tier league titles, including back-to-back First Division championships in 1949 and 1950, marking the peak of their achievements. Portsmouth FC has also tasted FA Cup glory, lifting the prestigious trophy in 1939 and 2008. Despite facing financial challenges and lower league spells, the club’s passionate fan base and commitment to the local community have kept them firmly rooted in the footballing landscape. Portsmouth’s legacy lies not only in their silverware but also in their resilience and enduring presence in English football, making them an integral part of the sport’s heritage.

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