Oneida Football Club
|Full name||Oneida Football Club|
|Location||Boston, Massachusetts, US|
|Founded||21 November 1862|
|Activities||Boston code football|
|Founder||Gerrit Smith Miller|
|President||Tom McGrath [a]|
The Oneida Football Club, founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 1862, was the first organized team to play any kind of football in the United States. The game played by the club, known as the "Boston game", was an informal local variant that predated the codification of rules for association football, rugby football, or American football. The team, which consisted of graduates of Boston's elite preparatory schools, played on Boston Common from 1862 to 1865, during which time they reportedly never lost a game or even gave up a single point.
The Oneida Football Club was established in 1862 by Gerrit Smith "Gat" Miller, a graduate of the Latin School of Epes Sargent Dixwell, a private college preparatory school in Boston. At the time there were no formal rules for football games, with different schools and areas playing their own variations. This informal style of play was often chaotic and very violent, and Miller had been a star of the game while attending Dixwell. However, he grew tired of these disorganized games, and organized other recent preparatory school graduates to join what would be the first organized football team in the United States.
The team consisted of a group of Boston secondary school students from relatively elite public (state) schools in the area, such as Boston Latin School and the English High School of Boston. Organization served the club well, and it reportedly never lost a game, or even allowed a single goal. The original team members were Smith Miller, Edward Lincoln Arnold, Robert Apthorp Boit, Edward Bowditch, Walter Denison Brooks, George Davis, John Malcolm Forbes, John Power Hall, Robert Means Lawrence, James D’Wolf Lovett, Francis Greenwood Peabody, Winthrop Saltonstall Scudder, Alanson Tucker, Louis Thies, Robert Clifford Watson, and Huntington Frothingham Wolcott.
The game played by the Oneida Football Club is known as the "Boston game". This informal local football variety later took hold at Harvard University and was an important precursor to American football. Although it has been claimed by much later followers of both soccer and American football, the club predated formal rules of any football variant.
The Oneida Football Club played its games on the Boston Common, where it is commemorated by a small stone monument erected in 1925 to honor The Boston Boys. Its inscription reads: "On this field the Oneida Football Club of Boston, the first organized football club in the United States, played against all comers from 1862 to 1865. The Oneida goal was never crossed". It played matches against pickup teams throughout the Boston collegiate community.
The former members present at the event were Winthrop Scudder, James Lovett, Gerritt Miller (founder and captain), Francis Peabody, Robert Lawrence and Edward Arnold.
The team was named in tribute to Gerritt "Gat" Miller, "the Organizer and Captain of the Club, because beautiful Oneida Lake, near his home at Peterboro, New York, was a delight to him as a boy, for swimming, fishing and boating, as well as to his Boston friends who visited him."
- Although the team was dissolved and Oneida hasn't played any sports since 1865, it is still a registered organization in Boston. Self-appointed club president Tom McGrath pays a yearly fee of $50 to the city of Boston to keep Oneida a registered organization,although it hasn't played since 1865.
- The team did not have a uniform jersey but a red simple handkerchief.
- Muscle and Manliness: Rise Of Sport In American Boarding Schools by Axel Bundgaard. Published by Sports and Entertainment (2005) at Google Books - ISBN 978-0815630821
- An Historical Sketch of the Oneida Football Club of Boston: 1862-1865 by Winthrop Saltonstall Scudder - The Massachusetts Historical Society (1926) at HathiTrust Digital Library
- "Remembering the first high school football games" on The Boston Globe, 21 November 2012
- Page 11, An Historical Sketch of the Oneida Football Club of Boston: 1862-1865 by Winthrop Saltonstall Scudder