Landmark anniversary for football

by safc.com

The Football Association reaches milestone.

This year marks a landmark anniversary for football as exactly 150 years ago, the game as we know it began with the formation of The Football Association.

Sunderland man Charles Alcock, the founding spirit of The FA Cup and international football, has been one of the most important people The FA’s history.

Alcock was not quite 30 years old, and had been The FA’s secretary for little more than 12 months, when he first had his vision of a national knockout tournament. He had remembered playing in an inter-house ‘sudden death’ competition during his schooldays at Harrow and in July 1871 proposed a competition run on similar lines for all the clubs in membership of The FA.

The FA Committee swiftly agreed to his proposal. 18 rules were drafted, 15 clubs had their entries accepted, and the famous ‘Football Association Challenge Cup’ was born. Acknowledged as the greatest domestic cup competition in the world, it had 758 entries this season and has become so special that 90,000 at Wembley and around half a billion on worldwide television will watch the showpiece Final in May.

Alcock had another good idea. He sent a letter to the Glasgow Herald to announce that a match between ‘England’ and ‘Scotland’ would be played at Kennington Oval in London. It was only an unofficial international, with the players of both sides living in London, but an official match – the first international football match in history – took place in Glasgow in November 1872. It finished Scotland 0 England 0.

This Wednesday, the FA will officially unveil its 150th anniversary plans ahead of what will be a spectacular year-long celebration of the English game.

The FA’s 150th anniversary calendar includes a stellar line-up of events and England international fixtures, including:

  • England versus Brazil, Scotland and Republic of Ireland, plus Brazil tour
  • UEFA Congress and UEFA Champions League Final in May
  • FA England Awards at St. George’s Park on Sunday 3 February
  • 20 years of women’s football and UEFA Women’s Euro 2013 in July
  • National Football Day on Saturday 10 August
  • FA Gala Dinner at the Grand Connaught Rooms on Saturday 26 October

Throughout the year, every aspect of the game will be focused upon, from the grassroots and the women’s games to the England teams and disability football, as The FA brings the history of football to life.

A key focus of the anniversary will be on those people up and down the country whose commitment in supporting the game at all levels continues to be fundamental to its growth and development.

The FA is the not-for-profit, governing body of football in England. It is responsible for growing participation and regulating the sport, so everyone can enjoy it.

The grassroots game has seven million people of all ages playing football in parks, on playgrounds and in organised league football. There are 1,100 such leagues, collectively totalling 29,000 clubs and 115,000 teams. Together, they see approximately two million diverse people play organised football at least once a week.

Helping run the grassroots game throughout the year are 400,000 volunteers, more than 300,000 coaches and 27,000 qualified referees from different backgrounds.

The wider game in England now sees 30 million tickets sold to professional football in this country every season. At the international apex of the game, there are 24 England teams, across men’s, women’s, youth and disability football. Up to half the population watches when the England men’s senior team plays key tournament matches.