Even though it’s now one of the most popular sports throughout the world, football still had to get its start somewhere. The game’s rise to fame started with its first few teams and clubs who, in time, grew their own solid following, which itself grew into the massive international fanbase that football has today. Despite how long ago this was, however, some of these early clubs still exist today. Read on to learn more about the world’s oldest football clubs.
Sheffield Football Club
Founded in 1857 by a group of cricket players, Sheffield Football Club is widely said to be the oldest still-existing football club in the entire world. Sheffield FC is also credited with having designed the “Sheffield Rules,” an early football ruleset that provided some of the foundations for today’s modern football rules. They currently play in the 7th tier of English football at a cricket stadium with around 2,000 seats.
Cambridge University Football Club
Though it’s technically a college football team, Cambridge University Football Club is still the second-oldest football club in the world, having been founded in 1857, just after Sheffield Football Club. It also gave rise, via its graduates, to some other prominent football clubs, such as Hallam Football Club.
Hallam Football Club
Hallam Football Club is the third-oldest club in the world, founded by a graduate of Cambridge University in 1860. Though it’s not the oldest club, it does have the special distinction of playing at the oldest field created specifically for football play, as the other clubs that came before it only repurposed other fields or open areas. Hallam FC remains proud of playing at the world’s oldest football ground to this day.
Crystal Palace Football Club
Founded in 1860, Crystal Palace Football Club is seen as the fourth-oldest club in the world but is also the oldest club currently playing in the English Premier League. Their home stadium is Selhurst Park, a sizable and modern football arena in London, which was completed in 1924 and currently seats around 25,000 spectators.
Notts County is the fifth-oldest football club in the world. After its founding in 1862, the team went on to become one of the founding members of the English Football Association, one of the main administrators of UK football. They currently play their games in the fifth tier of English football.
Stoke City FC
The Stoke City Football Club, founded in 1863 by players from the Charterhouse School, is among some of the oldest clubs still playing in English football. The club was originally named the Stoke Ramblers, but the name was changed in 1925. The team has taken on the nickname of the “Potters,” as the area was once known for its prominent ceramics industry.
Wrexham Football Club
Founded in 1864, Wrexham AFC is the seventh-oldest football club in the world, and the oldest football club in Wales. They’re most notable for being owned by actors Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds, who purchased the club in November 2020. Wrexham was promoted to the fourth division of English football in 2023.