There has been much debate over which club is actually the oldest football club in the world. Clubs have come and gone and there is little doubt that many clubs were formed in the Victorian era, including Hitchin FC, which was established in 1865. However, there are very few clubs that have played continuous football since the very early days of organised football. Hitchin, for example, went bankrupt in 1911 and it was not until 17 years later that a new club was formed, to be called Hitchin Town FC. Some local publications claim that the original club was a founder member of the Football Association, which of course is nonsense given the FA was formed in 1863 – some two years before Hitchin FC was formed.
Another myth is that Hitchin was the first club to be called the Canaries. Norwich City’s nickname dates back to 1905, while the nickname “Canaries” was not adopted by Hitchin Town until 1928, as a reflection of the yellow and blue colours of the new club.
Hitchin FC’s nickname became “the town” towards the end of the original club’s torrid existence. The club was, however, one of the first entrants in the FA Cup. They met a club called Crystal Palace (formed 1861) that has no relation to the current London club playing in the Premier.
Sheffield FC is the world’s oldest football club, founded in 1857. They have been in continuous existence since that date. They have used their vintage as a clever marketing ploy, launching a brand of clothing under the 1857 banner. Click here for an article on how Sheffield FC became football’s heritage club.
Oldest football clubs in continuous existence
1857: Sheffield FC
1860: Hallam, Cray Wanderers
1861: Worksop Town
1862: Notts County
1863: Civil Service FC, Royal Engineers
1864: Wrexham, Brigg Town
1865: Nottingham Forest
1867: Sheffield Wednesday
1870: Stranraer, Abingdon Town, Marlow, Maidenhead United
1872: Dumbarton, Rangers
1873: Chippenham Town
1874: Bolton Wanderers, Greenock Morton, Arthurlie, Hearts, Hamilton Academicals, Aston Villa
Of the current 2013-14 Premier League, the foundation dates were as follows:
1863: Stoke City
1874: Aston Villa
1878: Manchester United, Everton, West Bromwich Albion
1879: Sunderland, Fulham
1882: Tottenham Hotspur
1892: Newcastle United, Liverpool,
1894: Manchester City
1899: Cardiff City
1900: West Ham United
1902: Norwich City
1904: Hull City
1905: Chelsea, Crystal Palace
1912: Swansea City