Oldest football clubs

The oldest football clubs trace their origins to the mid-19th century, a period when football evolved from being a casual pastime to an organised mainstream sport.

An 1881 Australian rules football match between Melbourne and Geelong. Both clubs were founded in 1859 and currently compete in the Australian Football League (AFL), making them the world's oldest football clubs that are now professional.

The identity of the oldest football clubs in the world, or even in a particular country, is often disputed or claimed by several clubs, across several codes of football. The Foot-Ball Club of Edinburgh is thought to be the earliest recorded football club in the world, with records going back to 1824. Rugby clubs also referred to themselves, or continue to refer to themselves, as simply a "football club", or as a "rugby football club". "Club" has always meant an independent entity and, during the historical period in question, very few high school or university teams were independent of the educational institutions concerned. Consequently, school and university football teams were seldom referred to as "clubs". That has always been the case, for example, in American football, which has always had ties to college sport in general. Conversely, however, the oldest still-existing "football club" with a well-documented, continuous history is Dublin University Football Club, a rugby union club founded in 1854 at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. There exists some record of Guy's Hospital Football Club being founded in London in 1843, through an 1883 fixture card referring to Guy's 40th season.[1]

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