These youthful looking players represented Zestafoni FC in 1923. Zestafoni is a city in western Georgia, which at the time was a part of the Soviet Union (from 1921 onwards). 
Between 1918 and 1921 Georgia was a Democratic Republic.
In 1918 the first club in Zestafoni was formed by high school students.
In 1920, during the period of The Allied Intervention (an unsuccessfulwestern scheme to undermine the  Revolution) Zestafoni played against a British Military team and won 2-1.
  In 1927 Zestafoni competed in the first republic-wide championship of Georgia.


A.H. Chequer

This rather solemn looking cricketer should be a familiar face to all students of Association football history. 
On March 16th 1872 at The Oval The Wanderers played The Royal Engineers in the first ever FA Cup Final. Fifteen minutes into the match Wanderers' 18 year old forward Robert Walpole Sealy Vidal succeeded in dribbling the ball a considerable distance into the Engineers' territory. Vidal centered and a teammate finished off the move from an acute angle.  The goalscorer was listed on the teamsheet as A.H Chequer. 
His actual name was Morton Peto Betts, known as Monty, a 24 year old  Old Harrovian and Cambridge University student. 
Bett's pseudonym arose from his membership of Harrow Chequers, It was common in the amateur era for players to be members of a number of clubs simultaneously.  As an Old Harrovian Betts was naturally a member of their old boys' side- the Chequers, founded in 1865. 
Chequers had been drawn to play against Wanderers in the first round of the FA Cup, but had withdrawn. There has been speculation that Betts chose his rather transparent alias to avoid being 'cup-tied.' It may, however, simply have been an example of the humour of the day. I note that in one early West Kent fixture one of the forwards is listed as A Chizelhurst- Chiselhurst  being the home of the West Kent club. I  can't help but wonder if this might also have been Betts!
Betts' name crops up frequently in the sporting annals of the 1870s and 1880s.
The earliest references I have found to him as a footballer come from 1870. His name does not feature in any reports of House matches at Harrow in the years when he would have been at school. In November 1870 he appears on a Wanderers line-up. Betts was also on a shortlist to represent England in the 2nd Alcock International on November 19th, but he wasn't selected and instead appeared in the role of Umpire (discharging  his duties with commendable impartiality throughout according to the press). December 1870 sees the first mention of Betts as a West Kent player, and he also played for South vs North during that month.
An example of multiple club membership giving rise to possible divided loyalties can be seen in January 1871. West Kent played Wanderers. Betts played for West Kent. In November that year Betts represented England in the 4th Alcock International. 1871 also saw the beginning of Betts' 20 years service as a member of the Board of the Football Association .
Betts' status within the game is reflected by his captaincy in 1872 of Middlesex (for a county game vs Surrey) and of Old Harrovians vs Old Etonians. This meant that he captained teams containing such natural leaders as Alcock and Kinnaird. 
Betts also featured regularly for London in their series of matches with Sheffield, and captained London in 1877.
By now Betts had 'matured' into a goalkeeper (although he does not appear to have been Old Harrovians' regular 'keeper in the 1876-77 season). On March 3rd 1877 Betts won his one and only official England cap when he played in goal against Scotland at The Oval.
Scotland won by 3 goals to 1. Contemporary reports attributed the Scots' success to combination play. England, on the other hand, retained the old singular approach.
This match did not signal the end of Betts' involvement with the international game. In 
1885 and 1888 he appeared as an Umpire in the  England vs Scotland matches.  


Association Football in The Wild West

In the 1880s the territory of Wyoming was a rough and ready place, small rudimentary settlements based on mineral mining and cattle driving. The sparsely populated  area was a refuge for outlaws such as The Hole-in-the-Wall Gang . 
As recently as 1876 there had been war  between 'settlers' and the indigenous people. The territory was not granted state status until 1890.
And yet against this frontier backdrop of riders and gunslingers Association football was being played.
I came across this fact in Andy Mitchell's First Elevens

Robert Smith, the former Scottish international had settled in Wyoming, where he established a business with fellow Queen's Park member William Klingner. Smith was a general trader, and was later involved in the newspaper business and politics. 
On July 4th 1883 Smith, who was then 35, arranged a match between  Green River and Rock Springs, Smith captained Green River. Rock Springs won 4-0. This appears to have been a one off, and football didn't really catch on in Wyoming. 

Smith was a founder member of Queen's Park and the first club captain.
He played in the 2nd,3rd and 4th  'Alcock Internationals' (the rarity of an actual Scotsman in the Scots XI). He represented Scotland in the 1st and 2nd official internationals whilst playing for South Norwood. Smith also played in the FA Cup for Queen's Park and was an FA committee member. 
He went to the USA in 1873. 


Austria vs Hungary, 1902

Hungary had fielded a national selection 3 times in 1901. Their opponents had been the English sides  Richmond and Surrey Wanderers (twice) over the course of 3 days in April (11th, 12th and 13th). The  tourists  had proved too strong for the Hungarians, winning 4-0, 5-1 and 6-1. The Hungarian XI for the first match featured an English player (Windett).
Whereas the Hungarian governing body, Magyar Labdarúgó Szövetség, had been founded in 1901, football in Austria at this time was organised on a city by city basis. 
A national governing body (Österreichischer Fußball-Bund) was not established  until 1904. 
On October 12th 1902 a match was played at WAC Platz, Vienna between teams representing Vienna and Budapest: 

Vienna Selection
Budapest Selection
Philipp Nauß  
Wiener A.C
Bádonyi Gyula  
Budapesti T.C
'Eipel'-Wilhelm Eipeldauer  
First Vienna
Berán József  
‘Omlady- Emil Wachuda
Wiener A.C
Gabrovitz Emil  
Felix Hüttl  
Vienna Cricket and F.C.
Koltai József  
Rudolf Blässy  
S.C. Graphia
Pozsonyi Imre  
Quick’- Raimund Mössmer  
D.J. Währing
Bayer Jenő  
Julius Wiesner  
Wiener A.C
Buda István  
Budapesti T.C
Gustav Huber  
Wiener A.C
Steiner Bertalan  
33 F.C.
Engelbert Schrammel  
Wiener A.C
Pokorny József  
Jan Studnicka  
Wiener A.C
Hajós Alfréd
Budapesti T.C
Josef Taurer  
Wiener A.C
Oláh Károly  
Budapesti S.C.

The Viennese controlled the game, placing the Hungarian goal under relentless pressure.  Josef Taurer put the hosts in front in the 5th minute and Studnicka got a second after 10. Gustav Huber made it 3 before half time and in the second half Studnicka completed his hat trick for a 5-0 win to Vienna. 
It was agreed during the course of  the after match celebrations to hold this fixture on an annual basis.
Hajós Alfréd* wrote in Sport Világ magazine that the Austrian advantage had been to have the core of the team made from the players of one club (WAC), whereas the Budapest players were relatively unfamiliar with each others' play
In 1907 Austria,Hungary  and Czechoslovakia (Bohemia) were all admitted separately to FIFA.
In 1908 the Austrian  and Hungarian Associations agreed to retrospectively designate the 1902 match  an official international. 

*The Hungary captain was a fascinating man. Hajós, the Hungarian for sailor, was a psuedonym- he was originally called Guttmann Arnold. Hajós was a double gold medal winner in swimming at the Athens Olympics in 1896. He was also a top class runner and discuss thrower. It wasn't all about sport though, he was also an architect of considerable renown. He was responsible for designing part of the Millenáris Sporttelep stadium in which Hungary played their matches. This must have given him considerable satisfaction when he was later coach of the national team.


Campeonato Santista 1913

Santos Football Club was founded on April 14th 1912.
The following season the first Campeonato Santista was contested. Four teams took part, Santos, Escolástica Rosa, América and Atlético Santista.
Santos' results were as follows:

Escolástica Rosa
Atlético Santista
Escolástica Rosa
Atlético Santista
This match was abandoned when Atlético failed to come out for the second half.


This 100% record gave Santos their first title. 

The squad featured:
Goalkeepers: Durval Damasceno, Juvenal
Full backs: Pilar, Ernani
Half backs: Pereira, Ambrósio, Ricardo
Forwards: Adolfo Millon*, Haroldo Domingues*, Marba, Haroldo Cross, Paul, Willian, Urbano Caldeira, Anacleto, Arnaldo Silveira*

* later capped by Brazil.


Royal Engineers v Wanderers

In the 1870s there were few serious competitors aside from Wanderers and the Royal Engineers for the title of the best club in England. It was fitting that these 2 sides contested the first FA Cup Final, and there was a period from 1871 -1875 when the Royal Engineers won just about every game that they played other than FA Cup Finals. Wanderers of course won the FA Cup 5 times in 7 seasons. In the previous decade matches between the 2 had been far more casual in nature. Here's an account of an early meeting in which the military metaphors are done to death, Note that the mention of the after match hospitality was almost obligatory in football journalism during the 18th century. Its a curious team list as well...

Kentish Chronicle-19.11.64

Four years later the Wanderers don't come across as one of the leading clubs, managing to muster only 8 players for a home fixture and failing to ensure that there was a football available! The thoughts of the Engineers on travelling up from Chatham for a 35 minute game are unrecorded. As Charles Alcock may (or may not) have said, its a funny old game... 

Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle - 05.12.68


Where are they now? Third Division North, 1921-22

The number of clubs in the Football League in 1919 was 44. In 1921 that number had grown to 86. This expansion was completed by the formation of the northern section of the Third Division in March 1921.
There had been reservations from the Football League management Committee regarding both the playing standards and financial security of the Northern clubs. The original Third Division had been largely formed of established Southern League Clubs. In addition to the £100 registration fee and the 10 guineas a year membership, each of the Northern Clubs had to pay the League a guarantee of £50. The grounds of the applicants were subjected to inspection.
This was an austere period in the nation's history, with football affected as much as any other area of society. League membership was often perceived as being a guarantee of financial security. 
None of the clubs listed below has ever reached the top tier of the English game (14 of the 22 clubs that made up the previous season's almost exclusively southern Third Division have reached that level, and 4 are currently in the Premier League).   

The following 20 teams made up the Third Division North for the 1921-22 season:

Accrington Stanley
The name lives on.The 'Owd Reds were formed in 1891 and joined the Lancashire Combination in 1900. 1921-22 was their first season in the Football League. They remained in the Third division until 1960, when they were relegated. During their second season in Division Four they resigned from the Football League. Returning to the Lancashire combination the club folded in 1966. The current League Two club were founded in 1968 and joined the Football League in 2006. 


The Colliers were founded in 1883. 1921-22 was their first season in the Football League.
They were relegated from the League at the end of the  1928-29 season. They currently play in the Northern Football League. (9th tier of the Pyramid).

Founded in 1901. Joined the Lancashire Combination in 1903.1921-22 was their first season in the Football League. They spent 51 seasons in the League (11 in Division 4) and failed re election in 1972. They currently play in the Conference North (6th tier of the Pyramid). 

Formed in 1919 after a previous League (1899-1909) club of the same name had entered into liquidation in 1915. 1921-22 was their first season in the Football League. 

FA Cup semi-finalists in 1996–97. Currently in League 1 (3rd tier).

Crewe Alexandra

Founded in 1877. previously in Division Two of the Football League (1892-96). Before their return to the League in 1921-22 they played in  The Combination, Lancashire league , Central League Birmingham & District League,  Currently in League 1 (3rd tier).


Founded 1883. Founding members of the Northern League in 1889. 1921-22 was their first season in the Football League. They slipped out of the League in 1989 but returned after just one season. they were relegated out of the League again in 2011 and wound up in 2012.

Durham City
Formed in 1918. 1921-22 was their first season in the Football League. In 1928 they failed to gain re-election to the league and returned to playing in the North Eastern League, Disbanded in 1938,

Jimmy Carmichael of Grimsby Town was the season's top scorer with 37 goals 

Grimsby Town

Grimsby joined the Football  League in 1892-93. They were formed as Grimsby Pelham in 1878. They had been relegated out of the League in 1910-11, playing in the Midland League and returning after one season. They finished bottom of Division 2 in 1920-21 and were relegated into the new Third Division North. Remained in the Football league until 2010 and now play in the 5th tier.

Halifax Town
Founded in 1911, 1921-22 was their first season in the Football League.They retained League status until 1993 and 1998-2002. Dissolved in 2008. 

Hartlepools United

Founded in 1908. In 1968 they dropped the 's' and the 'United'. The 'United' was revived in 1977. 1921-22 was their first season in the Football League and they have spent their entire history in the bottom 2 divisions of the Football League. Currently in League 2 (4th tier).

Lincoln City

When it comes to League membership Lincoln City (founded 1884) are in and out like the tide. Joining the Third Division North in its inaugural season marked the beginning of their 3rd spell as a League club. They are currently in their 2nd spell in the Conference (5th tier).

The Admirals currently occupy the 9th tier of the Pyramid. The club, founded in 1881 was dissolved in 1900 and again in 1916.  The current incarnation (1918) played in The Central League. 1921-22 was their first season in the Football League and they were members until 1931. 

The Dale were formed in 1907. They played in the Lancashire Combination- winning the title twice.1921-22 was their first season in the Football League. They finished bottom and had to apply for re election. They currently play in League 1 (3rd tier) and have never escaped the bottom 2 divisions of the Football League.

Founded in 1881 and known at various times as  Southport Central (1888) and Southport Vulcan (1918). They played in the Central League before joining the Third Division North in its inaugural season. Remained in the Football League (bottom 2 divisions) until 1978. Currently in the 5th tier. 

Stalybridge Celtic
Founded in either 1906 or 1909 the Celts were the first of 1921's new league clubs to leave the League,resigning after 2 seasons.
They previously played in the Lancashire Combination the Central League, and the Southern League. they currently play in the 6th tier.

Stockport County
Heaton Norris Rovers were founded in 1883. In 1890 they adopted the name Stockport County. They joined the Football League in 1900 and were members for 110 years. Currently in the 6th tier. They won the Third Division North in its inaugural season.

Tranmere Rovers
Belmont Football Club changed their name to Tranmere Rovers in 1884, one year after their formation. They have played in the 3rd tier for the majority of their time in the Football League, but at present lie in the 4th tier. 

Walsall Town was founded in 1877 and Walsall Swifts in 1879. These clubs merged to form Walsall Town Swifts in 1888. In 1892 the club joined the Football League and in 1896 changed its name to Walsall FC. 

Wigan Borough
Wigan United were founded in 1919. In 1920 they were embroiled in a scandal over broken time payments whilst playing in the Lancashire Combination, leading to a name change to Wigan Association. This name was soon changed to Wigan Borough. Borough were elected to the new Third Division North despite finishing next to bottom of the Lancashire Combination. They resigned from the League in 1931 having succumbed to financial difficulties. They had spent their 10 years as a League club in the third division. 

North Wales' Wrexham are a truly ancient outfit founded in 1864. This was their first season of League Football.They survived until 2008, and currently play in the 5th tier. 

The following were the unsuccessful applicants:

Castleford Town
Castleford was a Rugby stronghold. Town had played in the Midland League since 1909. They went out of business in 1936.  

Rotherham Town

The Midland League club were the second team to bear the name. In 1925 they merged with Rotherham county to form Rotherham United. 

Blyth Spartans

A name that is almost synonymous with non  league football due to the FA Cup exploits of the Tyneside club down the years. They are currently in the 7th tier of the pyramid. 

Gainsborough Trinity

Former league members  (1896 -1912). Currently playing in the 6th tier. 

Doncaster Rovers

The Midland League side replaced Stalybridge Celtic for the  1923–24 season. Currently in the 3rd tier. 

West Stanley

From a  County Durham mining village . The club ceased to exist in 1959.

Wakefield City

Another Rugby stronghold, Wakefield is the largest city in England never to have had a team in the Football League. City were a new club, having been founder members of the Yorkshire League in the 1920-21 season. Having failed to get into the Football League they joined the Midland League, where they survived one season. The club was dissolved in 1928. 

Lancaster Town

Now known as Lancaster City, currently playing in tier 8.

Scunthorpe and Lindsey United

The club has reverted to their original name.  They continued in the Midland League until , after many attempts, they were accepted into the Football League in 1950. Currently in the 3rd tier. 

South Liverpool.

Having relocated and changed name this club entered the Football League in 1923 as New Brighton. Dissolved in 1983. There is an extant South Liverpool FC, the 3rd club to carry the name.  


The Twelve Original Football League Grounds.

Of the 12 teams that took part in the inaugural season of the Football League 10 are still playing League football , and Stoke, reformed in 1908, did their very best to carry on seamlessly where the original club left off.
So, how many of those 11 grounds have hosted League football for 127 years? And what has become of the grounds of 1888 which are no longer used for football?

Accrington - Thorneyholme Road
 Thorneyholme Road was a cricket ground when Accrington FC was formed. It is still in use as a cricket ground, and the area where the football pitch was is now tennis courts. The last League match at the ground was played on April 15th, 1893.

Aston Villa - Wellington Road (Perry Bar)
Villa acquired the ground, then undeveloped, in 1876, It remained their home ground until 1897. Wellington Road hosted 2 FA Cup semi finals and an England international, but the playing surface was poor and Villa wanted a more commodious stadium.  The last League match was played at Wellington Road on 22nd  March 1897. The land was built over and no trace of the old ground remains. 

Blackburn Rovers - Leamington Road
Rovers moved into this, their third ground, in 1881. Leamington Road hosted 2 England internationals. The last League game played there was on January 4th 1890, after which the club moved to Ewood Park. The Leamington Road ground was built over and is now the site of rows of charming red brick houses.

Bolton WanderersPikes Lane
Bolton's first regular home venue. The club remained at Pikes Lane from 1880 until 1895, the last game being played on 13th April 1895. The ground was reputedly unpopular with players and spectators alike due to the bumpy pitch and poor facilities. It is now the site of terraced housing. 

Burnley - Turf Moor
Burnley moved into Turf Moor in 1883 and remain there to this day.

Derby County - The County Ground
The County Ground (aka The Racecourse) is still a County Cricket Ground (no longer used for horse racing!). Derby County played there until 1895 when they moved to the Base.ball Ground. The County ground was the first provincial ground to host an FA Cup Final (1886) and also staged an England International.

Everton - Anfield
Anfield is still a League venue of course, but with different tenants.  Everton played their last match there in 1891 before moving into their grand purpose built stadium at Goodison Park.

Notts County - Trent Bridge
Continuing the theme of cricket grounds. Trent Bridge hosted Notts County matches in the 1860s, but it was the primary venue for Nottingham Forest until 1883. Forest relocated and County moved in, staying until  1910, when they moved to Meadow Lane. 

Preston North End - Deepdale
 North End was primarily a cricket club when they first leased the land on Deepdale Farm in 1875. Their winter game was Rugby football. Association was first played at Deepdale in 1878, and it remains the home of Preston North End to this day.

Stoke- The Victoria Ground
Football was originally played in Stoke at the Victoria Cricket Club, but this was not the same venue. Stoke moved across the road from Sweetings Field to the Victoria Ground in 1878. At the time it was still known as The Athletic Club field, but was later named after a pub built on the Sweetings Field  that Stoke had vacated. The Victoria Ground was the home of Stoke and their successors until 1997.
The site is now wasteland.

West Bromwich Albion -Stoney Lane
Stoney Lane was Albion's 5th ground. It was their home from 1885 until 1900. The site is now a housing estate.

Wolverhampton Wanderers - Dudley Road
Home to the Wanderers from 1881- 1889, the last match being played on 2nd  March 1889. Now a housing estate.