The 11 Oldest Football Clubs in the World

Any major sport has its own pioneers; from the New York Yankees in Major League Baseball to Jack Nichlaus in golf.

Football (or association football as it was once known) has its fair share of pioneers too, but rarely do we hear about those who laid the foundations of this great sport.

The 19th century saw the popularity of football soar and it was in no small part thanks to the dedication and organisation that was put in that it became a successful past time for the working class.

And as we all know by now, England was the birthplace of what we know as football and so it may surprise you to find that not all of the eleven oldest clubs in the world in this list hail from the small island in Europe. 

11. Sheffield Wednesday F.C.- Founded in 1867

The first football club on our list actually first started out as a cricket club and what we today know as "​Sheffield Wednesday" was actually first named "The Wednesday Cricket Club."

But the club started officially as an association football club in 1867 and the cricket club branched off in 1882.

The club is still going strong in the Football League today, currently plying their trade in the ​Championship.

10. Queen's Park F.C.- Founded in 1867

A Scottish football team makes its way onto the list as 1867 saw the birth of the Glasgow-based club make waves in association football.

They were one of the first modern passing teams during a time that dribbling was the norm, perhaps due to the influence of rugby at the time.

They are now currently the only fully amateur side in the Scottish Professional League, but play their home games at the national stadium - Hampden Park.

9. Nottingham Forest - Founded in 1865

Nottingham Forest are undoubtedly one of the pioneers of modern English football due to their unprecedented success in the 1970s under the tutelage of the legendary coach Brian Clough.

But their proud history goes much further than that as they were one of the clubs to join the Football Alliance in 1889 before joining the Football League, where they have been ever since.

They are one of the oldest surviving professional football clubs alongside Notts County.

8. Brigg Town FC - Founded in 1864

Founded in 1864, Brigg Town have a proud history in football with a number of club honours being attached to their name, winning the FA Vase on two occasions (1996 and 2003).

They are current in the eighth tier of English football, playing their football in Northern ​Premier League Division One South.

7. Wrexham FC - Founded in 1864

Another club with links to cricket, the Wales-based club was formed by members of the Wrexham Cricket Club.

They played their first game in 1864 against the Prince of Wales Fire Brigade and were one of the pioneers in introducing the rules we have today with 11 players being on each side.


They are currently supporter-owned and lie in the fifth tier of English football with their highest honour coming in the 1970s when they won the Third Division title.

6. Stoke City - Founded in 1863

The only Premier League team on our list is ​Stoke City, who have been around longer than the telephone and are improving year after year just like Alexander Bell's creation.

Their initial name was the "Stoke Ramblers", but they formed with Stoke Victoria Cricket Club in 1878 and became Stoke City.

They were one of the twelve founding members of the Football League in 1888, but due to some poor performances, joined the Football Alliance for two seasons.

They became a Premier League team for the first time in 2008 under the guidance of Tony Pulis.

5. Notts County - Founded in 1862

Notts County are the oldest professional football club in the world after being founded in 1862, a couple of years before Nottingham Forest were formed.

They too were one of the founding members of the Football League alongside the likes of Stoke City.

They reached their first FA Cup final in 1891, but lost to Blackburn Rovers 3-1.

The club has had its great moments in the top tier of the football league, but they are now currently plying their trade in League 2

4. Hallam FC - Founded in 1860

Another Sheffield club, Hallam F.C. were formed in 1860 but their history goes further back to 1804 when the cricket club Hallam C.C. was created.

They proudly boast the oldest football ground in the world, with the current side still playing at Sandygate Road, which was opened in 1804.

They are currently in the ninth tier of English football.

3. Cray Wanderers - Founded in 1860

Officially the oldest football club in London, Cray Wanderers F.C. were founded in 1860 after a few migrant workers played football during their spare time.

The semi-professional club had links with ​Arsenal (called Woolwich Arsenal at the time) during the early parts of the 20th century when they were a professional side.

Playing as a semi-professional team now, the club are currently in the Isthmian League Division One North.

2. Lima CFC - Founded in 1859

There are some debates regarding Lima CFC's claim of being the second oldest football club in the world, but for the sake of argument, we're going to include them!

The club were initially formed in 1859 by English immigrants who had moved to Peru with the club's focus mainly on cricket.

But despite being formed in 1859, their first official match was in 1893 and they currently play in the local leagues of Peru.

1. Sheffield F.C. - Founded in 1857

Officially the oldest football club in the world, FIFA recognised Sheffield F.C. as such in 2004 with the FIFA Order of Merit award (the only other recipients being ​Real Madrid).

As with many on this list, members from their cricket club in 1855, William Prest and Nathaniel Creswick, decided to form the club as a football club.

The club became members of the Football Association in 1863, but before then, had only played teams in and around Sheffield.