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 as have Canadian football teams.
"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 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, although there exists some record of Guy's Hospital Football Club being founded in 1843.
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. Hence it is 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 still disputed.
Sheffield F.C. in Sheffield, England, is the world's oldest independent football club – that is, the oldest club not associated with an institution such as a school, hospital or university. It was founded in 1857. Sheffield F.C. initially played Sheffield rules, a code of its own devising, although the club's rules influenced those of the England Football Association (FA (1863) including handball, free kicks, corners and throw ins. While the international governing body of association football, FIFA and the FA recognise Sheffield F.C. as the "world's oldest football club", and the club joined the FA in 1863, it continued to use the Sheffield rules. Sheffield F.C. did not officially adopt association football until 1877.
The only survivor among the FA's founding clubs is Civil Service F.C. Six of the 18 founding members later adopted rugby exclusively. Cray Wanderers F.C. of St Mary Cray, London, founded in 1860, is the oldest club now playing association football in Greater London. The code played by Cray wanderers in its earliest years is unknown.
Liverpool Football Club (not to be confused with Liverpool F.C. of the 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.
Rest of the world
In 1858 in Melbourne, Victoria, members of the Melbourne Cricket Club formed a loosely organized football team, and played against other local football enthusiasts over the winter and spring of that year. The Melbourne Football Club was officially founded the following year on 17 May, and three days later, four members codified the first laws of Australian rules football. The Geelong Football Club was formed shortly afterwards, and over the next decade, many more Australian rules football clubs were formed in Victoria. Melbourne and Geelong were founding members of the Australian Football League (AFL), making them the world's oldest football clubs that are now professional.
Having been established in 1875, Club Mercedes is considered the oldest association football club still in existence in Argentina. This places Mercedes above Gimnasia y Esgrima de La Plata and Quilmes,[a] both established in 1887.
Buenos Aires Cricket & Rugby Club claims to be the oldest club still in existence in Argentina. According to the club's website, the club was founded before 8 December 1864 as a cricket institution. The date of foundation has been recognized by the Buenos Aires Rugby Union. It is however believed that the club was founded in 1831, with existing documentary evidence about a cricket match played by Buenos Aires that same year. Nevertheless, the practise of any "football" code did not start until 1951 when the BACC merged with the Buenos Aires F.C. and rugby union was added.
Club Atlético del Rosario was officially established in 1867 as a cricket institution. The club soon added association football, being the first club from Rosario playing in the Primera División, the top division of Argentina. In rugby union, Rosario AC played the first inter-clubs match in the country on 28 June 1886, when the team faced Buenos Aires Football Club.
In Uruguay, the Montevideo Cricket Club, established in 1861, has however been ranked as the oldest rugby union club outside Europe by the World Rugby Museum of Twickenham, although the first certain rugby match played by MVCC was in 1880.
São Paulo Athletic Club was founded on 15 May 1888 by English immigrants, and was the first football club in Brazil. Although association football is not practised anymore, SPAC still hosts rugby union.
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 Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League are the longest-running team without having changed their name, being founded in 1873.
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 have a mostly unchanged franchise history. 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.
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."
Le Havre AC was founded as an athletics and rugby club in 1872, making it the oldest surviving football club registered in France and continental Europe. They began playing association football on a regular basis in 1894. Technically AS Strasbourg could be considered the first French association football team, being established in 1890; they were however a German team at the time.
Dresden English Football Club was founded on 18 March 1874 and was the first association football club in Germany, and likely the first outside Great Britain. In 1874, 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.
Having been founded on 19 April 1879, FC St. Gallen is the oldest existing association football club in mainland Europe. Playing in the Swiss Super League, they are also the oldest club in continental professional football. The Danish Kjøbenhavns Boldklub was the oldest professional football team on continental Europe until it was merged into F.C. Copenhagen in 1991. The club was formed in 1876 and association football was first played two years later.
|Date||Club||Original code||Current codes||City/Suburb||Country||Status||Notes|
|1843||Guy's Hospital||Rugby football||Rugby union||Blackheath||England||BUCS Football League||Oldest documented football club in the world and founding member of United Hospitals RFC Now known as Guy's, Kings and St Thomas' Rugby Football Club.|
|1854||Dublin University||Rugby football||Rugby union||Trinity College||Ireland||AIB League||Oldest documented football club in Ireland and the oldest to later play Rugby union. Now playing in AIL Division 2.|
|1857, October 24||Sheffield||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, November 10||Liverpool St Helens||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, December 26||Edinburgh Academical||Rugby football||Rugby union||Edinburgh||Scotland||Scottish National League Division One||Oldest football club in Scotland. Oldest documented rugby club in the UK.|
|1857||Edinburgh University||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 [b]||Cambridge University||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||England||National League 1||Foundation member of the FA.|
|1858||University of St Andrews||Rugby football||Rugby union||St Andrews||Scotland||BUCS Scotland Div. 1||Founder member of the SRU.|
|1859, May 14||Melbourne||Australian football||Australian football||Melbourne||Australia||Australian Football League||A loosely organized side played as Melbourne on several occasions in 1858. The club was officially formed the following year on 14 May 1859. On 17 May 1859, members of the club codified Australian rules football. It is the world's oldest football club of any code that is now professional.|
|1859, June 14 [b]||Castlemaine||Australian football||Australian football||Castlemaine||Australia||Bendigo Football League||Foundation date recently rediscovered, but dormant for a period.|
|1859 [b]||Melbourne University||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, July 18||Geelong||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.|
|Date||Club||Original code||Current codes||City/Suburb||Country||Status||Notes|
|1860, May 20||Ballarat||Australian football||Australian football||Ballarat||Australia||Ballarat Football League||Formed as a junior club; senior club established in 1862.|
|1860 [b]||Cray Wanderers||(Unknown)||Association Football||Bromley||England||Isthmian League Premier Division||The early years of Cray Wanderers are poorly documented with its early history based on oral recollections later in the 19th century. Based on the frequently stated year of 1860, it is the oldest club now playing association football in Greater London., preceding Civil Service F.C., the only surviving foundation member of the FA, by three years.|
|1860 [b]||Hallam||Sheffield Rules||Association football||Sheffield||England||Northern Counties East League Premier Division||Took part in first ever football tournament. Original club dissolved in 1886.|
|1860||Manchester||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, July 18||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. Founded as a cricket club, it was playing in rugby matches by 1880.|
|1861||Sandhurst||Australian football||Australian football||Bendigo||Australia||Bendigo Football League||Founded by J. B. Thompson, one of the inventors of Australian rules football.|
|1861||Richmond||Rugby football||Rugby union||Richmond||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, July 18||Modbury||Australian football||Australian football||Modbury||Australia||South Australian Amateur Football League|
|1862 [b]||Barnes||Rugby football||Rugby union||Barnes||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 FA in 1863 and one of the first two clubs (the other being Richmond) to play a game of association football.|
|1862 [b]||Notts County||Own code||Association football||Nottingham||England||Football League One||NCFC official site history. Oldest of all the association football clubs in the world that are now professional. Club officially founded December 1864, prior to this only existed informally|
|1863||St. George's Hospital Medical School||Rugby football||Rugby union||Hyde Park Corner||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 [b]||Bradford Park Avenue||Rugby football||Association football||Bradford||England||Conference 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 [b]||Stoke City||Charterhouse rules||Association football||Stoke-on-Trent||England||Premier League||While there are claims of a football club in Stoke formed by old boys of Charterhouse School in 1863 and this is the date given by the current club, little evidence exists of this entity, however there are contemporaneous reports in 1868 of the formation of Stoke Ramblers, which changed its name after a few years to Stoke Football Club. This club did not contest the FA Cup until 1883–84. Continuous history from reformation in 1908 following the wind up of the original club. It changed its name to Stoke City in 1928 after Stoke-on-Trent was granted city status.|
|1863||Christchurch||Own code||Rugby union||Christchurch||New Zealand||Division One - Telecom Cup||Oldest club now playing rugby union in New Zealand.|
|1863 [b]||Sydney University||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||(Unknown)||Association football||London||England||British Army competition||Won the FA Cup in 1875.|
|1863 [b]||Civil Service||Association football||Association football||London||England||Southern Amateur League||The only founding member of the FA that still plays association football. The other founding clubs now play rugby or are defunct. Also known as the War Office Club.|
|1864||Carlton||Australian football||Australian football||Carlton||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||Australian football||Australian football||Williamstown||Australia||Victorian Football League||The second club from Williamstown which exists to this day.|
|1864||Brigg Town||Association football||Association football||Brigg||England||Northern Premier League Division One South||Traditional date.|
|1865||West of Scotland||Rugby football||Rugby union||Glasgow||Scotland||Scottish National League Division Three||One of the founder members of the SRU.|
|1865||Bath||Rugby football||Rugby union||Bath||England||Aviva Premiership||Currently in the peak domestic competition for rugby union in England.|
|1865||Hull||Rugby football||Rugby league||Kingston upon Hull||England||Super League|
|1865||Nottingham Forest||(Unknown) (possibly Bandy)||Association football||Nottingham||England||Football League Championship|
|1865||London||Rugby football||Rugby union||London||England||BUCS (rugby union)||Merged with St.Bartholomew's RFC in 1995 and now play as The Royal Hospitals RFC.|
|1866||Harlequins||Rugby football||Rugby union||Twickenham||England||Aviva Premiership||Founded as 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||Rugby football||Rugby union||Glasgow||Scotland||West Regional League Division 1||One of the founder members of the SRU.|
|1866||Kapunda||Australian football||Australian football||Kapunda||Australia||Barossa Light & Gawler Football Association|
|1866||Rochdale Hornets||Rugby football||Rugby league||Rochdale||England||Championship 1|
|1866, October 20||Swinton and Pendlebury||Rugby football||Rugby league||Swinton||England||RFL Championship||Won three rugby league Challenge Cups and six championships|
|1867, July 9||Queen's Park||Own code||Association football||Glasgow||Scotland||Scottish League Two|
|1867, September 4||Sheffield Wednesday||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. In 1867 a football section was formed known as The Wednesday Football Club. In 1929 the football club officially changed its name to Sheffield Wednesday Football Club.|
|1868||Tiverton||Rugby football||Rugby union||Tiverton||England||Tribute Cornwall/Devon League||Tiverton Rugby Club is known as Devon's oldest club.|
|1868||Fordingbridge Turks||(Unknown)||Association football||Fordingbridge||England||Bournemouth Saturday Football League|
|1868||Perthshire||Rugby football||Rugby union||Perth||Scotland||Scottish National League Division Three|
|1868 [b]||York||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||Rugby union||Glasgow||Scotland||Scottish University competitions|
|1869||Queen's University||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, November 3||Hamilton||Rugby football||Canadian football||Hamilton||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||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||Scotland's oldest professional club.|
|1869||Clapham Rovers||Association football||Association football||London||England||Sportsman Senior Amateur Division||Won the FA Cup in 1880|
|Date||Club||Original code||Current codes||City/Suburb||Country||Status||Notes|
|1870||Maidenhead United||Association football||Association football||Maidenhead||England||Conference South|
|1870||Southend||Rugby football||Rugby union||Southend||England||National League 2 South|
|1870, May 12||Port Adelaide||Australian football||Australian football||Port Adelaide||Australia||Australian Football League||Played in the SANFL until 1997 when it entered the AFL. Only pre-existing non-Victorian club to be competing in the league.|
|1870||Stranraer||Association football||Association football||Stranraer||Scotland||Scottish League One|
|1870||Abingdon Town||Association football||Abingdon||England||Hellenic Football League|
|1870||Darwen||Rugby football||Association football||Darwen||England||West Lancashire Football League||The club was wound up in 2009 and later reformed as AFC Darwen.|
|1870||Burton||Rugby football||Rugby union||Burton upon Trent||England||Midlands 1 West||The club has since changed its name to Burton Rugby Football Club|
|1870, November 22||Marlow||Association football||Association football||Marlow||England||Southern Football League|
|1870||Reigate Priory||Association football||Association football||Reigate||England||Surrey Elite Intermediate Football League||Participated in the first ever FA 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||Australia||Wimmera Football League|
|1871||Streatham-Croydon RFC||Rugby Football||Rugby Union||Thornton Heath||England||Surrey 2||Founded as Streatham Rugby Club but later incorporated Croydon following a move from Streatham Common to Thornton Heath.|
|1871||Uxbridge||Association Football||Association Football||Uxbridge||England||Southern Football League Division One Central|
|1871||Birkenhead Park||Rugby Football||Rugby union||Birkenhead||England||National League 3 North|
|1871, December 25||Reading||Association football||Association football||Reading||England||Football League Championship|
|1872||Lutterworth||Rugby Union||Rugby Union||Lutterworth||England||Midlands 2 East (South)|
|1872||Dumbarton||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||Association football||Association football||Glasgow||Scotland||Scottish Championship||Founder member of the Scottish Football League, and joint winners of the first Scottish Football League title in 1890-1.|
|1872||Clifton||Rugby union||Rugby union||Clifton||England||National League 2 South|
|1872||Havre Athletic Club||Rugby football||Association football||Le Havre||France||Ligue 2||Founded as Rugby and Athletics Club in 1872 by English expats. Oldest football and rugby club in France.|
|1872, October 5||Wrexham||(Unknown)||Association football||Wrexham||Wales||Conference National||Local reports of a football club of a similar name date back to 1864. Club reformed in 1884, assuming continuity from 1872 or earlier, the oldest football club in Wales of any code|
|1873||Chippenham Town||Association football||Association football||Chippenham||England||Southern Football League|
|1873||Exmouth||Rugby football||Rugby union||Exmouth||England||National League 2 South|
|1873||Halifax||Rugby football||Rugby League||Halifax||England||Championship||Founding members of the Northern Rugby Union.|
|1873, June 7||Essendon||Australian football||Australian football||Essendon||Australia||Australian Football League|
|1873||Toronto Argonauts||Rugby football||Canadian football||Toronto||Canada||Canadian Football League||Founded as a rugby team by the Toronto Argonaut Rowing Club, itself founded the year previous in 1872.|
|1874, June 8||Rochester Football Club||Australian football||Australian football||Rochester||Australia||Goulburn Valley Football League|
|1874, June 19||Sydney Swans||Australian football||Australian football||Sydney||Australia||Australian Football League||Previously located and known as South Melbourne. Relocated to Sydney in 1981.|
|1874||Port Melbourne||Australian football||Australian football||Port Melbourne||Australia||Victorian Football League|
|1874||Invercargill Blues||Rugby Union||Rugby Union||Invercargill||New Zealand||Southland Premier Division||Reputedly the oldest rugby club still in existence in New Zealand.|
|1874||Bolton Wanderers||Association Football||Association Football||Bolton||England||Football League One||The club was founded as Christ Church and was one of the founder members of the Football League in 1888.|
|1874||Greenock Morton||Association Football||Association Football||Greenock||Scotland||Scottish League One|
|1874||Arthurlie||Association Football||Association Football||Barrhead||Scotland||Scottish Junior Football West Premier League|
|1874||Heart of Midlothian||Association football||Association football||Edinburgh||Scotland||Scottish Premiership|
|1874||Hamilton Accies||Association football||Association football||Hamilton||Scotland||Scottish Premiership|
|1874||Aston Villa||Association football||Association football||Perry Barr||England||Football League Championship||Founded in 1874, also founder member of the Football League.|
|1874||Northwich Victoria||Association football||Association football||Northwich||England||Northern Premier League Premier Division||The foundation date of Northwich Victoria was at least as early as 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.|
|1874||Macclesfield Town||Association football||Association football||Macclesfield||England||National League|
|1875 [b]||Lampeter Town||Rugby football||Rugby union||Lampeter||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||Association football||Association football||Small Heath||England||Football League Championship|
|1875||Blackburn Rovers||Association football||Association football||Blackburn||England||Football League Championship||
Founder members of both the Football League and the Premier League.
|1875, September 11||Bournemouth||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||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 Federal C||The oldest club currently competing in any Argentine association football league.|
|1875||Redruth||Rugby football||Rugby union||Cornwall||England||National League 2 South|
|1875||Taunton||Rugby union||Rugby union||Taunton||England||National League 2 South|
|1876||Old Foresters||Association football||Association football||London||England||Arthurian League||Forest School, Walthamstow, started playing football c.1857. The Old Foresters played from shortly after this year, the earliest recorded match versus Forest School in September 1864, but the club was not officially formed until 1876.|
|1876||South Adelaide||Australian football||Australian football||Adelaide||Australia||SANFL||South Adelaide is the 2nd oldest football club in South Australia.|
|1876||Bangor City||Association Football||Association Football||Bangor||Wales||League of Wales|
|1876||Westmount||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||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||Association football||Association football||Falkirk||Scotland||Scottish Championship|
|1876||Stafford Rangers||Association football||Association football||Stafford||England||EVO-STIK Premier, England|
|1876||Middlesbrough||Association football||Association football||Middlesbrough||England||Premier League|
|1876||Partick Thistle||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 in continental Europe. In 1991, Kjøbenhavns Boldklub and B 1903 merged their professional football teams and formed F.C. Copenhagen.|
|1876||Tynedale||Rugby football||Rugby union||Corbridge||England||National League 1|
|1877||Clyde||Association football||Association football||Glasgow||Scotland||Scottish League Two||Moved to Cumbernauld|
|1877||Crewe Alexandra||Association football||Association football||Crewe||England||Football League One|
|1877||St Mirren||Association football||Association football||Paisley||Scotland||Scottish Championship|
|1877||Wolverhampton Wanderers||Association football||Association football||Wolverhampton||England||Football League Championship||Formed as St. Lukes, before merging with The Wanderers two years later. Founding member of the Football League.|
|1878||Norwood Football Club||Australian football||Australian football||Adelaide||Australia||SANFL||One of the oldest football clubs in South Australia|
|1878||West Bromwich Albion||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||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||Manchester United||Association football||Association football||Manchester||England||Premier League||Founded as Newton Heath LYR Football Club in 1878, the club changed its name to Manchester United in 1902 and moved to Old Trafford in 1910.|
|1878||Kirkintilloch Rob Roy||Association football||Association football||Kirkintilloch||Scotland||Scottish Junior Football West Premier League|
|1878||Lugar Boswell Thistle||Association football||Association football||Lugar||Scotland||Scottish Junior Football Ayrshire Division One||Founded as Lugar Boswell and played until 1939 and reformed 1945 as Lugar Boswell Thistle.|
|1879||Fulham||Association football||Association football||London||England||Football League Championship|
|1879||Brora Rangers||Association football||Association football||Brora||Scotland||Highland Football League|
|1879||Sunderland||Association football||Association football||Sunderland||England||Premier League|
|1879||Koninklijke HFC||Association football||Association football||Haarlem||Netherlands||topdivision sunday||Oldest Dutch club|
|1879||Doncaster Rovers||Association football||Association football||Doncaster||England||Football League One|
|1879, April 19||St. Gallen||Association football||Association football||St. Gallen||Switzerland||Swiss Super League||Oldest association football club in continental Europe still in existence.|
|1879||Canterbury||Rugby union||Rugby union||Christchurch||New Zealand||ITM Cup||Oldest provincial rugby team in New Zealand.|
|Date||Club||Original code||Current codes||City/Suburb||Country||Status||Notes|
|1880||East Craigie||Association football||Association football||Dundee||Scotland||Scottish Junior Football East Region North Division||The Scottish Junior Football Association was founded in 1886. East Craigie pre-date this and are one of the oldest Junior (i.e., non-SFA) clubs still in existence.|
|1880||Antwerp||Association football||Association football||Antwerp||Belgium||Belgian Second Division||Antwerp was founded in 1880 by English students as Antwerp Athletic Club. A football division named Antwerp Football Club was formed in 1887. It was the first club to register to the Belgian Football Association in 1895 and they later received the matriculate number one.|
|1880||Manchester City||Association football||Association football||Manchester||England||Premier League||Formed in 1880 as St. Marks Gorton. Became Ardwick A.F.C in 1887 and Manchester City in 1894|
|1881||Eastbourne Town||Association football||Association football||Eastbourne||England||Southern Combination Premier Division||Formed in 1881 as Devonshire Park, they played at the venue of the same name which is now the home of the Eastbourne International tennis tournament. Moved to their current ground of the Saffrons in 1886. Became Eastbourne F.C. in 1889 and Eastbourne Town F.C. in 1971.|
|1881||Watford Rovers||Association football||Association football||Watford||England||Premier League||One of the oldest clubs to never have won a major trophy.|
|1882||Tottenham Hotspur||Association football||Association football||Tottenham||England||Premier League|
|1882||Burgess Hill Town||Association football||Association football||Burgess Hill||England||Isthmian League Division One|
|1883||Balgownie Rangers||Association football||Association football||Balgownie||Australia||Illawarra District League||Oldest currently active association football club in Australia|
|1883||Bristol Rovers||Association football||Association football||Bristol||England||League Two|
|1884||Kiveton Park||Association football||Association football||Sheffield||England||Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League|
|1884||Derby County||Association football||Association football||Derby||England||Football League Championship||One of twelve founders of the Football League.|
|1884||Leicester City||Association football||Association football||Leicester||England||Premier League||Known as Leicester Fosse between 1884 and 1919.|
|1885, February 20||Richmond||Australian football||Australian football||Richmond||Australia||Australian Football League||A number of teams formed in the Richmond area during Australian rules football's rapid expansion of the 1870s and early 1880s. However, all played at a junior level and it was considered an anomaly that Richmond, one of Melbourne's biggest locales, did not boast a senior team. The wait ended when the Richmond Football Club was officially formed on 20 February 1885.|
|1885||Bury||Association football||Association football||Bury||England||Football League Two||Bury were Second Division Champions in their inaugural season.|
|1886||Motherwell||Association football||Association football||Motherwell||Scotland||Scottish Premiership|
|1886||Arsenal||Association football||Association football||South London||England||Premier League|
|1886||North Shore United||Association football||Association football||Auckland||New Zealand||Lotto Sport Italia NRFL Division 1||Founded as North Shore, NSU are reputedly the oldest extant football club in Oceania.|
|1887||Académica de Coimbra||Association football||Association football||Coimbra||Portugal||Primeira Liga||The oldest football club in Portugal and the Iberic Peninsula.|
|1887||Wallsend||Association football||Association football||Wallsend||Australia||Northern NSW State League Division 1|
|1888, May 13||SPAC||Association football||Rugby union||São Paulo||Brazil||Brazilian Rugby Championship||First Brazilian football association and rugby union team.|
|1888||Celtic||Association football||Association football||Glasgow||Scotland||Scottish Premiership|
|1888||Northern||Association football||Association football||Dunedin||New Zealand||FootballSouth Premier League||Founded under its current name. Briefly renamed as Dunedin North End (1972–74) and North End United (1974–90).|
|1888||Roslyn-Wakari||Association football||Association football||Dunedin||New Zealand||FootballSouth Premier League||Founded as Wakari AFC. Name changed to Roslyn AFC in 1890. Team split into Roslyn AFC and Wakari AFC in 1895 before re-amalgamating under its current name in 1904.|
|1889, March 22||Sheffield United||Association football||Association football||Sheffield||England||Football League One||The oldest football team called United.|
|1889||Mohun Bagan||Association football||Association football||Kolkata||India||I-League Calcutta Football League (CFL)||It has been dubbed as the National Club of India and has the distinction of being one of the oldest football clubs in Asia, having been established in 1889.|
|1889, July 12||Adamstown Rosebud||Association football||Association football||Adamstown||Australia||National Premier Leagues|
|1889, December 23||Recreativo de Huelva||Association football||Association football||Huelva||Spain||Segunda División||The oldest football club in Spain.|
- Although the Quilmes A.C. claims to be established on Nov 5, 1887, football historian Jorge Gallego stated the original institution founded that year was dissolved and the "Quilmes Cricket Club" was in fact a completely new institution, not related with other clubs previously founded in the city of Quilmes.
- Disputed, poorly documented or dormant for a period.
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- M. Marples, 1954, A History of Football, Secker & Warburg, London, p. 36
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- The five oldest association football clubs in the world are: 1.Sheffield F.C. (1857), members of the Northern Premier League Division One South; 2. Hallam F.C. (1860) also a Sheffield football club, playing two division below the oldest club (Northern Counties East League Division One) 3. Cray Wanderers F.C. (1861) 4. Worksop Town F.C. (1861); 5. Notts County(1862). Notts County – A Pictorial History ISBN 0-9547830-3-4, p.8
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