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The announcement of the birth of ‘The Football Association Challenge Cup’ ran to just 29 words: “That it is desirable that a Challenge Cup should be established in connection with the Association for which all clubs belonging to the Association should be invited to compete”. Charles Alcock, then 29, had been The FA’s secretary for just over a year when he had his vision of a national knockout tournament.
He had remembered playing in an inter-house ‘sudden death’ competition during his schooldays at Harrow and his proposal was swiftly agreed.
The Football Association, English football’s governing body, was formed in 1863.
‘Organised football’ or ‘football as we know it’ dates from that time.
Apparently, many of them felt that competition would lead to unhealthy rivalry and even bitterness.
The first Cup season turned out to be quite truncated with withdrawals and byes.
It led them away from the concept of amateurism, cherished by clubs in the south, and it forced The FA to formally legalise professionalism in 1885.‘England’ won this unofficial international 1-0 and all the players, English and Scottish, lived in London.The Scottish FA hadn’t yet been formed but the Queen’s Park club agreed to organise the first official international between England and Scotland.He wrote to The Glasgow Herald on 3 November 1870 to announce that such a fixture would be played at the Oval in 16 days’ time.“In Scotland, once essentially the land of football, there still should be a spark left of the old fire”, he said.
The rules of the new competition were subsequently drafted and the entries of these 15 clubs were accepted: Barnes, Civil Service, Crystal Palace, Clapham Rovers, Hitchin, Maidenhead, Marlow, Queen’s Park (Glasgow), Donington Grammar School (Spalding), Hampstead Heathens, Harrow Chequers, Reigate Priory, Royal Engineers, Upton Park and Wanderers.