The 11 Oldest Football Clubs in the World

Football (or Soccer, whatever you like to call it) has a long, rich history. It was the most popular and followed sport in England during the mid 19th century, but there were different sets of rules for playing the game. Everyone just played the sport in the name of "football" in their own way until 1863, when some football organizations in England, in a meeting of The Football Association, came up with specific set of official rules regarding the different kinds of football played back then.

The football played in England during the 19th century basically followed two sets of codes: rugby football - played by passing the ball with hand and association football - played by passing the ball with foot. The inauguration of the FA led to a dispute between the then clubs who wanted players to run with the ball in their hands and the clubs who wanted players to kick the ball. And, from this point when one talked about football, they had to be specific regarding whether they meant rugby football or association football. By the turn of the 20th century, association football had surpassed rugby football as the most popular form of the game, and so people started to drop the term "association" and started calling the game  simply "football."

Given the long and rich history of the game, it was only around 1860 or so that professional football clubs started to appear. The history and formation of these clubs is of much interest to sports enthusiasts today, as the oldest football clubs are often disputed or claimed to have formed in different times or in different codes of the game. So, here's to taking this history lesson a little further with a close look at some of the oldest football clubs in the world. The list includes only the stand-alone clubs; the ones associated in any form with institutions such as schools, universities, hospitals or the military are excluded. Furthermore, the clubs listed are ranked in terms of the year they started playing football, not according to their dates of establishment. This excludes currently active and popular clubs like 1860 Munich and more; 1860 Munich was founded in 1848 as a fitness club, but started playing football only since 1899.

Without further ado, here are the 10 oldest football clubs in the world. Of course, I am referring to the oldest football clubs from around the globe, but it turns out they're all from the game's mother-nation, England.

11 Sheffield Wednesday F.C. (1867)

10 Wrexham F.C. (1864)

Wrexham F.C. is the third oldest professional club in world football, founded in 1864. Based in Wrexham, Wales, the club today holds the record for winning the Welsh Cup 23 times, more than any other team in Wales. Since joining the football league in 1921, Wrexham enjoyed a total of 87 years as members. Their most notable performances in history include beating the incumbent English champions Arsenal in the third round of the 1992 FA Cup and a 1-0 win over F.C. Porto in the 1984 European Cup Winner's Cup. Wrexham are currently competing in the Conference Premier, the fifth tier in the English football league pyramid. They play their home matches in the Racecourse Ground which is the oldest international stadium in the world that still hosts international games.

9 Nottingham Forest F.C. (1865)

8 Brigg Town F.C. (1864)

7 Bradford Park Avenue A.F.C. (1863)

6 Stoke City F.C. (1863)

5 Notts County F.C. (1862)

4 Worksop Town F.C. (1861)

3 Cray Wanderers F.C. (1860)

2 Hallam F.C. (1860)

1 Sheffield F.C. (1857)

Sheffield F.C., based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, has been called the world's oldest football club by both the FA and the FIFA. Founded in 1857, they played their first match against Hallam in 1867; the match is still played today as the Sheffield derby. Sheffield won the FA Amateur Cup in 1903-04 and finished runners-up in the 1977 FA Vase. The club today competes in the Northern Premier League Division One South, and are truly the heart of the globalized entertainment industry that the Premier League has been today. Sheffield F.C. have been honored with the FIFA Order of Merit and the English Football Hall of Fame.

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The 11 Oldest Football Clubs in the World