Oldest football clubs
The history of the formation of the oldest football clubs is of interest to sport historians in tracing the origins of the modern codes of football from casual pastime to early organised competition and mainstream sport. The identity of the first or oldest football clubs in the world, or even in a particular country, is often disputed or claimed by several different clubs, across several different codes of football. Many early clubs did not use the word "football" in their name. Although the terms "football club" and "FC" are now strongly associated with association football (commonly known as soccer in some countries), early rugby clubs also referred to themselves, or continue to refer to themselves, as simply a "football club", or as a "rugby football club". Similarly, almost all Australian rules football teams have also referred to themselves as football clubs.
"Club" has always meant an independent entity and, during the historical period in question, very few high school or university teams were independent of the educational institutions concerned. Consequently school and university football teams were seldom referred to as "clubs". That has always been the case, for example, in American football, which has always had strongly ties to college sport in general. Conversely, however, the oldest still-existing "football club" with a well-documented, continuous history is Dublin University Football Club, a rugby union club founded in 1854 at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.
While the first clubs emerged in Britain, possibly, as early as the fifteenth century, these are poorly-documented and defunct. For example, the records of the Brewers' Company of London between 1421 and 1423 mention the hiring out of their hall "by the "football players" for "20 pence", under the heading "Trades and Fraternities". The listing of football players as a "fraternity" or a group of players meeting socially under this identity is the earliest allusion to what might be considered a football club. Other early sporting bodies dedicated to playing football include "The Gymnastic Society" of London which met regularly during the second half of the eighteenth century to pursue two sports: football and wrestling The club played its matches – for example between London-based natives of Cumberland and Westmoreland – at the Kennington Common from well before 1789 until about 1800.
The Foot-Ball Club (active 1824–41) of Edinburgh, Scotland, is the first documented club dedicated to football, and the first to describe itself as a football club. The only surviving club rules forbade tripping, but allowed pushing and holding and the picking up of the ball. Other documents describe a game involving 39 players and "such kicking of shins and such tumbling".
Other early clubs include the Great Leicestershire Cricket and Football Club present in 1840. In 1841 two clubs are documented in a contemporary challenge to play "foot-ball" in Lancashire: "The Body-Guard club" (Rochdale) and the "Fear-noughts Club" A club for playing "cricket, quoits and football" was established in Newcastle on Tyne in or before 1848. The Surrey Football Club was established in 1849 and published the first non-school football list of rules (which were probably based upon the eighteenth century Gymnastic Society cited above)
Cambridge University Association Football Club has been described by the university as the oldest club now playing association football. For example : "Salopians formed a club of their own in the late 1830s/early 1840s but that was presumably absorbed by the Cambridge University Football Club that they were so influential in creating in 1846". According to Charles Astor Bristed, in the early 1840s at Cambridge, there were games played between clubs from different colleges and houses. Cambridge rules dates from 1848 and football is documented as being played on the original club ground, Parkers Piece, as early as 1838. The earliest existing evidence of the Cambridge University Football Club comes from "The Laws of the University Football Club" dated 1856, and held at Shrewsbury School.
It is claimed that the Barnes Club (later Barnes Rugby Football Club), from Barnes in London, was formed in 1839 and is the oldest club to have played football for its entire history. However, this has not been conclusively documented. It is also argued, and supported by the Guinness Book of Records, that Guy's Hospital Football Club, founded by staff at Guy's Hospital in London in 1843, is the oldest club. While a rugby club still exists at Guy's Hospital, the connection between the present club and the one formed in 1843 is poorly-documented.
The international governing body of association football, FIFA, and the England FA both officially recognise Sheffield F.C., founded in 1857, as the world's oldest association football club. The club, in Sheffield, England, is the oldest documented stand-alone club, that is, the oldest association football club not associated with an institution such as a school, hospital or university. It was founded in 1857. It initially played Sheffield rules, a code of its own devising, although the club's rules influenced those of the FA (1863) including handball, free kicks, corners and throw ins. While Sheffield F.C. joined the FA in 1863 it continued to use its rules and did not adopt the Association's code in full until 1877.
Liverpool Football Club (not to be confused with Liverpool F.C. of the English Premier League), later known as Liverpool St Helens F.C. were formed in 1857, which claims to be the oldest open rugby club in the world. The club adopted the Rugby Union rules in 1872, never playing association rules.
Outside Britain & Ireland
Although football variants have been played in North America since the 1820s, the claim of oldest continuous football club in North America is still a matter of debate. Oneida Football Club was founded in 1862, and played the "Boston game", the rules of which have been lost. The modern club, Oneida FC were refounded in 2011 and play rugby league football.
The first football club in France was established in Paris in 1863 by English expatriates, as the following excerpt from a contemporary newspaper shows: "A number of English gentlemen living in Paris have lately organised a football club... The football contests take place in the Bois de Boulogne, by permission of the authorities and surprise the French amazingly.
In terms of gridiron football the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League can trace their roots back to the Hamilton Football Club (nicknamed the "Tigers") which formed in 1869, then later merged with the Hamilton Wildcats in 1950 to form the current franchise. Their rivals to the north, the Toronto Argonauts, were founded four years later in 1873 and boast a mostly unchanged franchise history. It should be noted, however, that both clubs began as rugby football clubs and only later adapted to the gridiron-style of play which would become known as Canadian football. The oldest continuous rugby club in North America which still plays rugby is the McGill University Rugby Football Club which was established in 1863, although their first recorded game was not until 1865. The oldest independent (non-university) rugby club is the Westmount Rugby Club of Montreal, which formed in 1876.
In the United States, gridiron-based variants of the game did not distinguish themselves from existing codes until 1871, when Harvard University began playing a variation known as the "Boston Game." This allowed a player to pick up the ball and run with it if he were chased and it quickly spread, with innovations added by Yale University student Walter Camp. The oldest existing non-university semiprofessional football club is the Watertown Red & Black, which was founded in 1896. The Arizona Cardinals, formed in Chicago in 1899, are the oldest club currently in the National Football League, although they relocated to St. Louis in 1960 and then to Arizona in 1988. The Green Bay Packers, founded in 1919, are the oldest NFL club still in their original city.
"Dresden English Football Club" was founded on 18 March 1874 and was the first association football club in Germany, possibly the first in continental Europe and thus the first outside Britain. That year, over 70 members participated, primarily Englishmen working in Dresden, watched by hundreds of spectators. (Another German club, 1860 Munich did not play football until 1899, although it has its origins in a gymnastics and fitness club formed in 1848 and reestablished in the year indicated by its name.)
The oldest existing "football club" in South America is the Buenos Aires Football Club, established in 1886 in Argentina to play rugby union, being also a founding member of the Argentine Union. The BAFC merged with Buenos Aires Cricket Club in 1951 and has continued playing rugby up to present. (It is sometimes confused with an older Buenos Aires Football Club, established on May 9, 1867 by a group of English immigrants. The club is known to have played rugby and was dissolved at the end of the 1880s.
|Year||Date||Club||Original code||Current codes||City||Country||Current status/league||Notes|
|1854||Dublin University F.C.||Rugby football||Rugby union||Trinity College, Dublin||Ireland||AIB League||Oldest documented football club in Ireland and the oldest to later play Rugby union. Now playing in AIL Division 2.|
|1857||24 October||Sheffield F.C.||Sheffield Rules||Association football||Sheffield||England||Northern Premier League Division One South||English FA and FIFA officially recognise this club as the oldest now playing Association football,.|
|1857||10 November||Liverpool St Helens F.C.||Rugby football||Rugby union||Liverpool||England||North 1 West||The club's first match took place in 1857 when old boys from Rugby school challenged local boys to a game under their school rules. Liverpool Football Club were then formed. The oldest open rugby club not part of an academic institution in the World.|
|1857||26 December||Edinburgh Academical F.C.||Rugby football||Rugby union||Edinburgh||Scotland||Scottish Premiership (rugby)||Oldest football club in Scotland. Oldest documented rugby club in the UK.|
|1857||Edinburgh University RFC||Rugby football||Rugby union||Edinburgh||Scotland||BUCS Rugby Union Premier North B||Joined the RFU in 1871 but resigned to become a founder member of the Scottish Football Union in 1873. The Edinburgh University Association Football Club (AFC) was formed in 1878 and was a founder member of the Scottish Football League.|
|1858/59 [a]||Cambridge University A.F.C.||Cambridge rules||Association football||Cambridge||England||BUSA Midlands Division 2A||See above. The 1856/57 foundation date has been claimed by the university, which would make it the 2nd oldest club now playing Association football.|
|1858||Blackheath||Rugby football||Rugby union||Blackheath, London||England||National League 1||Foundation member of the F.A.|
|1858||University of St Andrews RFC||Rugby football||Rugby union||St Andrews||Scotland||BUCS Scotland Div. 1, Caledonia Two Midlands||Founder member of the SRU.|
|1858||14 May||Melbourne F.C.||Australian football||Australian football||Melbourne||Australia||Australian Football League||The club was officially formed on 14 May 1858. On 17 May 1858, members of the club codified Australian rules football. Oldest of all the football clubs of any code in the world that are now professional.|
|1859 [a]||15 June||Castlemaine F.C.||Australian football||Australian football||Castlemaine, Victoria||Australia||Bendigo Football League||Foundation date recently rediscovered, but dormant for a period.|
|1859 [a]||[a]||Melbourne University F.C.||Australian football||Australian football||Melbourne University||Australia||Victorian Amateur Football Association Section A||Records of its formation are lost, however there are references of the club dating back to June 1859 and its first match was also in June 1859. Won Australian rules first ever trophy in 1861 by defeating Melbourne. Disbanded during World War I, but later reformed.|
|1859||18 July||Geelong F.C.||Australian football||Australian football||Geelong||Australia||Australian Football League||The club's own code was played in the Geelong region and influenced the rewriting of the laws of Australian football in 1866.|
|1860||20 May||Ballarat F.C.||Australian football||Australian football||Ballarat||Australia||Ballarat Football League||Formed as a junior club; senior club established in 1862.|
|1860||Cray Wanderers F.C.||(Unknown)||Association Football||Bromley, London||England||Isthmian League Premier Division||Oldest existing association football club in Greater London|
|1860||Hallam F.C.||Sheffield Rules||Association football||Sheffield||England||Northern Counties East League Premier Division||Took part in first ever football tournament.|
|1860||Manchester R.C.||Rugby football||Rugby union||Manchester||England||South Lancs/Cheshire 1||No connection to association football clubs Manchester United F.C. or Manchester City F.C..|
|1861||18 July||Montevideo CC||Rugby football||Rugby union||Montevideo||Uruguay||Campeonato Uruguayo de Rugby||Recognised as the oldest Latin American club by the World Rugby Museum of Twickenham.|
|1861||Worksop Town F.C.||Sheffield Rules||Association football||Worksop||England||Northern Premier League|
|1861||Sandhurst F.C.||Australian football||Australian football||Bendigo||Australia||Bendigo Football League||Founded by J. B. Thompson, one of the inventors of Australian rules football.|
|1861||Richmond F.C.||Rugby football||Rugby union||Richmond, London||England||National League 1||One of the first two clubs (with Barnes) to play a game of Association football, despite not being a member of the FA.|
|1861||Sale Sharks||Rugby football||Rugby union||Manchester||England||Guinness Premiership||Currently in the peak domestic competition for rugby union in England.|
|1861||18 July||Modbury F.C.||Australian football||Australian football||Modbury||Australia||South Australian Amateur Football League|
|1862 [a]||Barnes R.F.C.||Rugby football||Rugby union||Barnes, London||England||National League 3 London & SE||It is claimed that Barnes RFC was founded in 1862 but there is no actual evidence, so the club itself states to have clear documents about its activities from the 1920s. A founding member of the Football Association (F.A.) in 1863 and one of the first two clubs (the other being Richmond) to play a game of Association football.|
|1862||Notts County F.C.||Own code||Association football||Nottingham||England||Football League One||NCFC official site history. Oldest of all the Association Football (Soccer) clubs in the world that are now professional.|
|1863||St. George's Hospital Medical School RFC||Rugby football||Rugby union||Hyde Park Corner, London||England||BUCS league, South Eastern Conference, League 2A||Founding member of United Hospitals RFC, and the only one of the original United Hospitals members that is in the same form as at inception. The team moved to Tooting, South West London, in the 1970s.|
|1863 [a]||Bradford Park Avenue||Rugby football||Association football||Bradford||England||Northern Premier League Division One North||Folded in 1974. Reformed in 1988 as Bradford Park Avenue A.F.C. Founding member of rugby league in 1895. Entered top soccer league in 1907 in what was known as the "great betrayal".|
|1863||Stoke City F.C.||Association football||Association football||Stoke-on-Trent||England||Premier League||Founded as Stoke Ramblers in 1863, changed name to Stoke City in 1925 after Stoke-on-Trent was granted city status. The second oldest professional football club in the world, after Notts County, and one of the founding members of the Football League.|
|1863||Christchurch F.C.||Own code||Rugby union||Christchurch||New Zealand||Division One - Telecom Cup||Oldest club now playing rugby union in NZ.|
|1863 [a]||Sydney University F.C.||Rugby football,
|Rugby union||University of Sydney||Australia||New South Wales Rugby Union||Foundation date disputed by historican Tom Hickie who argues that it was actually 1865. The oldest Australian rugby union club; according to fullpointsfooty.net, it "flirted with 'Victorian Rules' [Australian rules] in its formative stages." The current Australian rules club at the university, Sydney University Australian National Football Club, claims to be a spin-off of SUFC, although the university did not play an inter-club Australian rules game until 1887.|
|1863||Royal Engineers A.F.C.||(Unknown)||Association football||London||England||British Army competition||Won the FA Cup in 1875.|
|1863 [a]||Civil Service F.C.||Association football||Association football||London||England||Southern Amateur League||Foundation member of F.A. Sometimes referred to as the "War Office Club".|
|1864||Saturday 22 October||Wrexham F.C.||Association football||Association football||Wrexham||Wales||Conference National||The oldest football club in Wales and the third oldest of all the football clubs in the world that are now professional.|
|1864||July||Carlton F.C.||Australian football||Australian football||Carlton, Victoria||Australia||Australian Football League||Source: Carlton Football Club. Carlton has participated at the highest level of its code longer than any other club.|
|1864||Williamstown F.C.||Australian football||Australian football||Williamstown, Victoria||Australia||Victorian Football League||The second club from Williamstown which exists to this day.|
|1864||Brigg Town F.C.||Association football||Association football||Brigg||England||Northern Premier League Division One South|
|1865||West of Scotland F.C.||Rugby football||Rugby union||Glasgow||Scotland||Scottish Premiership Division 2||One of the founder members of the SRU.|
|1865||Bath Rugby||Rugby football||Rugby union||Bath||England||Aviva Premiership||Currently in the peak domestic competition for rugby union in England.|
|1865||Hull F.C.||Rugby football||Rugby league||Kingston upon Hull||England||Super League|
|1865||Nottingham Forest||(Unknown) (possibly Bandy)||Association football||Nottingham||England||Football League Championship|
|1866||Harlequins||Rugby football||Rugby union||Twickenham||England||Aviva Premiership||Originally called Hampstead Football Club, the Club was renamed Harlequin Football Club in 1870 as the membership had ceased to be mainly Hampstead based. As the Club's equipment and stationery was all monogrammed HFC, a dictionary was used to find an acceptable alternative name to "Hampstead" beginning with an H and all members agreed on "Harlequin".|
|1866||Glasgow Academicals RFC||Rugby football||Rugby union||Glasgow||Scotland||West Regional League division 1||One of the founder members of the SRU.|
|1866||Kapunda F.C.||Australian football||Australian football||Kapunda, South Australia||Australia||Barossa Light & Gawler Football Association|
|1866||Rochdale Hornets||Rugby football||Rugby league||Rochdale||England||Championship 1|
|1866||20 October||Swinton and Pendlebury Football Club||Rugby football||Rugby league||Swinton, Greater Manchester||England||RFL Championship||Won three Rugby League Challenge Cups and six championships|
|1867||9 July||Queen's Park F.C.||Own code||Association football||Glasgow||Scotland||Scottish League Two|
|1867||4 September||Sheffield Wednesday F.C.||Sheffield Rules||Association football||Sheffield||England||Football League Championship||The Wednesday Cricket Club formed 1820 in Darnall, Sheffield. Sometimes known as Darnall Wednesday C.C or Sheffield Wednesday C.C. The Cricket club folded 1924 but has recently been revived (2011).In 1867 a football section was formed known as The Wednesday Football Club. In 1929 the football club officially changed Sheffield Wednesday Football Club.|
|1868||Tiverton Rugby Club||Rugby football||Rugby union||Tiverton, Devon||England||Tribute Cornwall/Devon League||Tiverton Rugby Club is known as Devon's oldest club.|
|1868||Fordingbridge Turks F.C.||(Unknown)||Association football||Fordingbridge||England||Bournemouth Saturday Football League|
|1868||Perthshire RFC||Rugby football||Rugby union||Perth||Scotland||Scottish Premiership division 3|
|1868||York F.C.||Rugby football||Rugby league||York||England||National League Two||York FC was formed in 1868 and joined rugby league in 1901. They went bankrupt in 2002. A new club, York City Knights, was formed in 2003.|
|1869||Glasgow University Rugby Football Club||Rugby football||Rugby union||Glasgow||Scotland||Scottish University competitions|
|1869||Queen's University RFC||Rugby Football||Rugby Union||Queen's University Belfast||Northern Ireland||All-Ireland League AIB League, Ulster Senior League||Second oldest club in Northern Ireland|
|1869||3 November||Hamilton Foot Ball Club (later Hamilton Tiger-Cats)||Rugby football||Canadian football||Hamilton, Ontario||Canada||Canadian Football League||The HFBC were nicknamed the "Tigers" in 1873. Merged with the Hamilton Flying Wildcats in 1950 to form the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Oldest current professional gridiron football team.|
|1869||North Melbourne F.C.||Australian football||Australian football||North Melbourne||Australia||Australian Football League||Was briefly known as the 'Hotham Football Club' between 1877 and 1888, due to a change in the town's name.|
|1869||Kilmarnock||Rugby football||Association football||Kilmarnock||Scotland||Scottish Premiership|
|1870||Southend RFC||Rugby football||Rugby union||Southend||England||National League 2 South|
|1870||late April or early May||Port Adelaide F.C.||Australian football||Australian football||Port Adelaide||Australia||Australian Football League|| Formerly played in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) as the Port Adelaide Magpies until 1997 before awarded a licence to enter the AFL in 1996. Entered AFL in 1997 as the "Power". A new club known as the Port Adelaide Magpies Football Club was formed in 1997 to fill its void in the SANFL|
|1870||Stranraer F.C.||Association football||Association football||Stranraer||Scotland||Scottish League One|
|1870||Abingdon Town F.C.||Association football||Abingdon, Oxfordshire||England||Hellenic Football League|
|1870||Darwen Football Club||Rugby football (and cricket)||Association football||Darwen||England||West Lancashire Football League||The club was wound up in 2009 and later reformed as AFC Darwen.|
|1870||Burton F.C.||Rugby football||Rugby union||Burton upon Trent||England||Midlands 1 West||The club has since changed its name to Burton Rugby Football Club|
|1870||22 November||Marlow F.C.||Association football||Association football||Marlow, Buckinghamshire||England||Southern Football League|
|1870||Reigate Priory F.C.||Association football||Association football||Reigate, Surrey||England||Surrey Elite Intermediate Football League||Participated in the first ever F.A. Cup draw. Believed to be the oldest club in Surrey. Still playing on their original ground.|
|1871||Ararat Football Club||Australian football||Australian football||Ararat, Victoria||Australia||Wimmera Football League|
|1871||Uxbridge F.C.||Association Football||Association Football||Uxbridge, Greater London||England||Southern Football League Division One Central|
|1871||Birkenhead Park FC||Rugby Football||Rugby union||Birkenhead||England||National League 3 North|
|1871||25 December||Reading F.C.||Association football||Association football||Reading, Berkshire||England||Football League Championship|
|1872||Lutterworth R.F.C||Rugby Union||Rugby Union||Lutterworth||England||Midlands 2 East (South)|
|1872||Dumbarton F.C.||Association football||Association football||Dumbarton||Scotland||Scottish Championship||Founder member of the Scottish Football League, and joint winners of the first Scottish Football League title in 1890-1.|
|1872||Rangers F.C.||Association football||Association football||Glasgow||Scotland||Scottish League One||Founder member of the Scottish Football League, and joint winners of the first Scottish Football League title in 1890-1.|
|1872||Clifton R.F.C.||Rugby union||Rugby union||Clifton, Bristol||England||National League 2 South|
|1872||Havre Athletic Club||Rugby football & Athletics||Association football||Le Havre||France||Ligue 2||Founded originally as Rugby and Athletics Club in 1872 by English expats. Oldest football and rugby club in France.|
|1873||Chippenham Town F.C.||Association football||Association football||Chippenham, Wiltshire||England||Southern Football League||Formed in 1873 while Queen Victoria was alive and kicking. Considered one of the oldest clubs in Southern England.|
|1873||Exmouth RFC||Rugby football||Rugby union||Exmouth, Devon||England||National League 2 South|
|1873||7 June||Essendon F.C.||Australian football||Australian football||Essendon, Victoria||Australia||Australian Football League|
|1873||Toronto Argonauts||Rugby football||Canadian football||Toronto, Ontario||Canada||Canadian Football League||Founded as a rugby team by the Toronto Argonaut Rowing Club, itself founded the year previous in 1872.|
|1874||8 June||Rochester Football Club||Australian football||Australian football||Rochester, Victoria||Australia||Goulburn Valley Football League|
|1874||19 June||South Melbourne F.C. (Sydney Swans)||Australian football||Australian football||Sydney, New South Wales||Australia||Victorian Football League||Relocated to Sydney in 1981.|
|1874||Port Melbourne F.C.||Australian football||Australian football||Port Melbourne, Victoria||Australia||Victorian Football League|
|1874||Bolton Wanderers F.C||Association Football||Association Football||Bolton||England||Football League Championship||The club was originally known as Christ Church and was one of the founder members of the Football League in 1888.|
|1874||Greenock Morton F.C.||Association Football||Association Football||Greenock||Scotland||Scottish League One|
|1874||Arthurlie F.C.||Association Football||Association Football||Barrhead||Scotland||Scottish Junior Football West Premier League|
|1874||Heart of Midlothian F.C.||Association football||Association football||Edinburgh||Scotland||Scottish Championship|
|1874||Hamilton Accies||Association football||Association football||Hamilton||Scotland||Scottish Premiership|
|1874||Aston Villa F.C.||Association football||Association football||Perry Barr, Birmingham||England||Premier League||Founded in 1874, also founder member of the Football League.|
|1874||Northwich Victoria F.C.||Association football||Association football||Northwich||England||Northern Premier League Premier Division||Their foundation date is given as at least 1874. Founding member of the Cheshire FA, the Football League Second Division, The Combination and Cheshire County League. Their home ground Drill Field, at the time of its demolition in 2002, it was believed to be the oldest football ground in the world.|
|1875 [a]||Lampeter Town RFC||Rugby football||Rugby union||Lampeter, Ceredigion||Wales||WRU Division Four West||Officially recognised by the Welsh Rugby Union as the oldest Rugby Club in Wales, when the Reverend Rowland Williams brought the game with him to the College in 1850. The club currently plays within the British Universities and Colleges Sports (BUCS) league system.|
|1875||Birmingham City F.C.||Association football||Association football||Small Heath||England||Football League Championship|
|1875||Blackburn Rovers F.C.||Association football||Association football||Blackburn||England||Football League Championship||
Founder members of both the Football League (1888) and the Premier League (1992).
|1875||11 September||Bournemouth F.C.||Association football||Association football||Bournemouth||England||Wessex League||Known as Bournemouth Poppies to avoid confusion with the League Club AFC Bournemouth Founder Member of the Football Association, the Hampshire F.A. and the Bournemouth F.A. |
|1875||Dewsbury Rams||Rugby Football||Rugby League||Dewsbury||England||Championship (rugby league)||Won 2 Challenge Cups (1911–12, 1942–43) and 1 Championship (1972–73).|
|1875||Hibernian F.C.||Association football||Association football||Edinburgh||Scotland||Scottish Championship||The Edinburgh derby match between Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian is the oldest regularly played derby match in the world.|
|1875||Club Mercedes||Association football||Association football||Mercedes||Argentina||Torneo Argentino C||The oldest club currently competing in any Argentine association football league.|
|1875||Redruth R.F.C.||Rugby football||Rugby union||Cornwall||England||National League 2 South|
|1875||Taunton R.F.C.||Rugby union||Rugby union||Taunton, Somerset||England||National League 2 South|
|1876||South Adelaide Football Club||Australian football||Australian football||Adelaide||Australia||SANFL||South Adelaide is the 2nd oldest football club in South Australia|
|1876||Westmount Rugby Club||Rugby football||Rugby union||Montreal||Canada||2nd Division of Quebec Rugby Federation||Oldest active rugby club (excluding university teams) in North America. Founded as Montreal Football Club.|
|1876||Port Vale F.C.||Association Football||Association Football||Burslem||England||Football League One||The club claim to have been founded in 1876, though contemporary research suggests the club was probably founded in 1879.|
|1876||Falkirk F.C.||Association football||Association football||Falkirk||Scotland||Scottish Championship|
|1876||Stafford Rangers F.C.||Association football||Association football||Stafford||England||EVO-STIK Premier, England|
|1876||Middlesbrough F.C.||Association football||Association football||Middlesbrough||England||Football League Championship|
|1876||Partick Thistle F.C.||Association football||Association football||Glasgow||Scotland||Scottish Premiership|
|1876||Kjøbenhavns Boldklub||Danish longball||Association football||Copenhagen||Denmark||Danish Superliga||Formed in 1876, but association football was only added in 1878. The club itself claims to be the oldest football club on Continental Europe. In 1991, Kjøbenhavns Boldklub and B 1903 merged their professional football teams and formed F.C. Copenhagen.|
|1876||Tynedale R.F.C.||Rugby football||Rugby union||Corbridge||England||National League 1|
|1877||Clyde||Association football||Association football||Glasgow||Scotland||Scottish League Two||Then moved to Cumbernauld.|
|1877||Crewe Alexandra F.C.||Cricket||Association football||Crewe||England||Football League One|
|1877||Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C.||Association football||Association football||Wolverhampton||England||Football League Championship||Founding member of the Football League.
Formed as St. Lukes, before merging with The Wanderers two years later.
|1878||Norwood Football Club||Australian football||Australian football||Adelaide||Australia||SANFL||One of the oldest football clubs in South Australia|
|1878||West Bromwich Albion F.C.||Association football||Association football||West Bromwich||England||Premier League||Founded as West Bromwich Strollers, before adopting the Albion suffix two years later.
Founding member of the Football League.
|1878||Everton F.C.||Association football||Association football||Liverpool||England||Premier League||Also a founding member of the Football League. The club played cricket for two years before adopting Association Football, so could be said to have been formed in 1876.|
|1878||Kirkintilloch Rob Roy F.C.||Association football||Association football||Kirkintilloch||Scotland||Scottish Junior Football West Premier League|
|1878||Lugar Boswell Thistle F.C.||Association football||Association football||Lugar, East Ayrshire||Scotland||Scottish Junior Football Ayrshire Division One||Founded as Lugar Boswell and played until 1939 and reformed 1945 as Lugar Boswell Thistle.|
|1879||Fulham F.C.||Association football||Association football||London||England||Football League Championship|
|1879||Brora Rangers F.C.||Association football||Association football||Brora||Scotland||Highland Football League|
|1879||Sunderland A.F.C.||Association football||Association football||Sunderland||England||Premier League|
|1879||Doncaster Rovers||Association football||Association football||Doncaster||England||Football League One|
|1879||19 April||FC St. Gallen||Association football||Association football||St. Gallen||Switzerland||Swiss Super League||Oldest association football club in continental Europe.|
|1880||Aarhus Gymnastikforening (AGF)||Gymnastics||Association football||Aarhus||Denmark||Danish Superliga|
|1880||East Craigie F.C.||Association football||Association football||Dundee||Scotland||Scottish Junior Football East Region North Division||The Scottish Junior Football Assoc was founded in 1886 and East Craigie pre-date this and are one of the oldest Junior (i.e. not members of the SFA) clubs still in existence.|
- Disputed, poorly documented or dormant for a period.
- Magoun, Francis Peabody (1929) "Football in Medieval England and Middle-English Literature." The American Historical Review, v.35, no. 1
- M. Marples, 1954, A History of Football, Secker & Warburg, London, p. 36
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