Up and down the country, teams at every level are honouring the landmark day with a host of activities, including players wearing special FA150 T-shirts during pre-match warm-ups. The anniversary comes after a packed programme of events across the year including a nationwide Sir Bobby Robson National Football Day in August and a celebration of 150 grassroots heroes at Buckingham Palace earlier this month.
The FA has used its 150th anniversary to shine a light on the national game. The seven million players of all ages, 400,000 volunteers, 300,000 coaches and 27,000 qualified referees who all help The FA keep the grassroots going. At the elite level, The FA runs 25 England teams, across men’s, women’s, youth and disability football, utilising the world-class facilities of Wembley Stadium and St. George’s Park.
Birthday celebrations began earlier this week with a ceremony at Wembley Stadium on Monday to mark the successful search for living descendants of the eight Founding Fathers of Football without whom football as we know, love and play it today, would not exist. Relatives travelled from as far afield as New Zealand and the United States to take part in a ceremony honouring their ancestors.
Then, on Friday, a plaque unveiling was held at the Grand Connaught Rooms, site of The FA’s founding in 1863. FA Chairman Greg Dyke and General Secretary Alex Horne took part in the ceremony, which means there is finally a permanent record of the birthplace of the world’s most popular sport.
On Saturday night, in central London, a Gala Dinner will be held at the Grand Connaught Rooms,– the location of the Freemasons’ Tavern that staged the very first FA meeting on 26 October 1863, with HRH The Duke of Cambridge, The FA President, the chief guest.
To read the official message from HRH The Duke of Cambridge, the President of The FA, click here
Taking centre stage at the Dinner will be the original 1863 FA Minute Book, which is currently on display at the British Library until 19 December. Valued at £2.5m, the book contains the handwritten 13 original laws of football penned a century and a half ago by Ebenezer Cobb Morley, The FA’s first secretary.
Guests will also include FA Chairman Greg Dyke, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, UEFA President Michel Platini and a trio of FIFA World Cup winners in George Cohen, Martin Peters and Sir Geoff Hurst. The FA Board and FA Council will also be in attendance, along with guests from around the world highlighting that football is the only true global game.
How it all began back in 1863…
In 1863, Ebenezer Cobb Morley, a solicitor and sportsman living in Barnes in south-west London, but originally from Hull, thought that football should have a set of rules in the same way that the MCC had them for cricket.
So, the captains, secretaries and other representatives of a dozen London and suburban clubs met at the Freemasons’ Tavern in Great Queen Street, near to where Holborn tube station is today. Their purpose was to form an Association with the object of establishing a code of rules for the regulation of football. The clubs represented at the first meeting were: Barnes, Civil Service (War Office), Crusaders, Forest (Leytonstone), No Names (Kilburn), Crystal Palace, Blackheath, Kensington School, Perceval House (Blackheath), Surbiton, Blackheath Proprietary School and Charterhouse.
The intention of those original meetings was to standardise the rules and to iron out differences in the forms currently being played, not to create a new game. Morley became The FA’s first secretary, later its president, and he drafted modern football’s first rules at his Thames-side home in Barnes.