9 Oldest Football Clubs in the World

The earliest football clubs can be hard to date and many football clubs dating back to the late 1850s and 1860s claim that their team is the oldest. Another factor adding to the difficulty of dating football clubs is that many early rugby clubs did, and still continue to, call their teams football clubs as well.

However, this list consists of what are believed to be the nine oldest association football (soccer) clubs in the world. All of them were formed around the same time and many lack proper records of their exact founding dates. This has led to many of the clubs claiming that they are older than others on this list – which has been arranged in an order we felt was best based on our research.

9. Hallam Football Club

Year Established: April 20, 1946
Country of Origin:  Sheffield, England
Nickname(s): The Countrymen
Still Exist: Yes
Current League Northern Counties East League Division One

Hallam Football Club photo source: hallamfc.co.uk

Hallam Football Club claims that it is the second oldest football club in the world, behind the Sheffield Football Club, but this list discredits the team’s belief. The club is one of the oldest association football clubs in the world and was established in late 1860.

Hallam has always played its home games on the grounds on Sandygate Road, which is the oldest football ground according to Guinness World Records. In 1867, Hallam won the Youdan Cup, which is believed to be the world’s first football tournament. The team still has the cup today, although it was lost for a period of time and bought back from a Scottish antique dealer in 1997.


8. Cray Wanderers Football Club

Year Established: circa 1860
Country of Origin:  Bromley, England
Nickname(s): The Wands
Still Exist: Yes
Current League Isthmian League South Division

Cray Wanderers Football Club photo source: Wikipedia

The origins of the Cray Wanderers Football Club dates back to between 1858 to 1860 when the London, Chatham and Dover Railway line was being constructed. The workers building the railway kicked a ball around during their breaks and eventually formed a club in the St Mary Cray village.

In the late 1800s, the club did well among other amateur football clubs and entered its first FA Amateur Cup competition in 1893/94. The club was one of the founding members of the Kent League in 1894/1895, which they one in 1901/02. Today, the Cray Wanderers are members of the Isthmian League South Division.


7. Ballarat Football Club

Year Established: May 20, 1860
Country of Origin:  Ballarat, Australia
Nickname(s): The Swans
Still Exist: Yes
Current League Ballarat Football League

Ballarat Football Club photo source: The Courier

The Ballarat Football Club is another one of Australia’s earliest football teams with a history dating back to 1860. Until the discovery of the Castlemaine Football Club’s founding, Ballarat was believed to be the third oldest non-universtiy football club in Australia – it is the fifth oldest if you count Melbourne University’s club. Over the next decade Ballarat played games on a social basis, but moved toward more formal competition around 1874.

In 1886, the club joined the Victorian Football Association along with the Ballarat Imperial club and Ballarat South. The club formed was one of the founding clubs of the Ballarat Football Association (now League) in 1893.


6. Geelong Football Club

Year Established: July 18, 1859
Country of Origin:  Geelong, Australia
Nickname(s): Cats
Still Exist: Yes
Current League Australian Football League

Geelong Football Club photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The Geelong Football Club was founded during a meeting held in the Victoria Hotel on July 18, 1859. It is the second oldest club in the Australian Football League and the fourth oldest Australian club overall. The club played its first match the following year and continued to contest senior football matches over the following decade.

Tom Wills, one of the founders of Australian rules football, played exclusively for Geelong from 1865 until his retirement from the sport in 1874. Geelong was one of the eight founding clubs of the Victorian Football League, which would later become the Australian Football League.


5. Melbourne University Football Club

Year Established: circa June 1859
Country of Origin:  Melbourne, Australia
Nickname(s): Students, Blacks, Blues, MUGARS
Still Exist: Yes
Current League Victorian Amateur Football Association Section A

Melbourne University Football Club photo source: Wikimedia Commons  

Since there are no records of the club’s exact formation, it is disputed whether or not the Melbourne University Football Club is the second or third oldest football club in Australia. The club’s first recorded match took place in June 1859, around the same time as the Castlmaine Football Club’s first game, but no one knows for sure which team was formed first.

The university’s club played in the Victorian Football Association from 1885 – 1888, which was Australian football’s governing body at the time. In 1907, the eight founding clubs of the Victorian Football League (now the Australian Football League) voted to include Melbourne University as the league’s ninth team.


4. Castlemaine Football Club

Year Established: June 15, 1859
Country of Origin:  Castlemaine, Australia
Nickname(s): Magpies
Still Exist: Yes
Current League Bendigo Football League

Castlemaine Football Club photo source: boylesfootballphotos.net.au

The Castlemaine Football Club was the second oldest Australian football club and formed a few months after the Melbourne Football Club. The club was formed on June 15, 1859, but the team’s first game was delayed a week because the ball did not arrive on time from Melbourne – the team had its first official game on June 22 on the Cricket Ground Barkers Creek.

Castlemaine’s founding date was only discovered in 2007, making it older than the Geelong Football Club, which was believed to be formed earlier. The club joined the Bendigo Football League in 1925 and remains a part of that league today.


3. Melbourne Football Club

Year Established: May 17, 1859
Country of Origin:  Melbourne, Australia
Nickname(s): Demons, Dees
Still Exist: Yes
Current League Australian Football League

Melbourne Football Club photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The Melbourne Football Club is the oldest football club in Australia and is one of the founding clubs of the Australian Football League. The origin of the team dates back to 1858 when members of the Victoria cricket team formed a loosely organized football team. Tom Wills, the captain of the cricket team called for the formation of a “foot-ball club” with its own “code of laws” to keep cricketers fit during winter.

The following year, Wills and a few other cricketers drafted “The Rules of the Melbourne Football Club”, which formed the basis of Australian rules football. The football club celebrated its 150th birthday in 2008 and released a list of “150 Heroes” as well as a special birthday logo that appeared on the official jerseys.


2. Cambridge University Association Football Club

Year Established: 1856 or 1857 (date is disputed)
Country of Origin:  Cambridge, England
Nickname(s): Blues
Still Exist: Yes
Current League BUCS Midlands Division 2A

Cambridge University Association Football Club photo source: Wikimedia Commons

According to Cambridge University, its association football club is the oldest club now playing association football. However, the club’s founding is often disputed and believed to either be in 1856 or 1857. Due to the uncertainty over the date of the club’s formation, it is not widely recognized as the oldest football club.

According to certain sources, the club may date back further than 1856 as there is confirmation that games were played between football clubs from different colleges and universities at Cambridge in the 1840s. The Cambridge University Association Football Club did receive a special award from the the National Football Museum in 2016 that recognizes it as the oldest football club in the world.


1. Sheffield Football Club

Year Established: October 24, 1857
Country of Origin:  Sheffield, England
Nickname(s): The Club
Still Exist: Yes
Current League Northern Premier League – Division One South

Sheffield Football Club photo source: Wikimedia Commons  

Sheffield Football Club is the oldest football club in the world, dating back to the fall of 1857. The club is officially recognized by FIFA and The Football Association of England (FA) as the world’s oldest football club.

Prior to the formation of the FA, early football clubs used their own rules and the Sheffield Rules were the first official set of rules and laws used for football games – the Sheffield Rules even influenced the rules of the FA. Sheffield became a member of the FA in 1863, but continued to use its own rules. The club finally adopted the FA’s rules in 1878.

Related Post

There are 1 comments

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend