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April 13 2024 11.38am

The first CPFC's role in forming the Football Association

October 30 2023

The Freemasons' Tavern and Palace's James Turner

The Freemasons' Tavern and Palace's James Turner

The Football Association marks its 160th anniversary today and the first Crystal Palace FC was among the clubs who helped establish the governing body.

The emerging sport was a bit of a mess in 1863 with the various schools, universities and local teams playing with their own set of rules.

Barnes FC founder Ebenezer Cobb Morley went about establishing unified laws in the same way that cricket had.

The solicitor arranged a meeting at the Freemasons' Tavern in London on October 26, 1863, where the Football Association was formed.

Here the first Crystal Palace joined 10 other clubs as Morley proposed: “That it is advisable that a football association should be formed for the purpose of setting a code of rules for the regulation of the game of football.”

Palace secretary Frank Day, 25, represented the independently-run club formed in 1861 by cricketers who played in Crystal Palace Park.

Officials from Palace attended all six FA sessions that year and voted against hacking and handling when the laws were thrashed out.

Those in favour of a more physical game of carrying the ball later established the Rugby Football Union.

CPFC treasurer James Turner, 23, was elected on the FA's first committee and he is regarded as one of the FA's "founding fathers".

The codified regulations were demonstrated in a 14-a-side match in Battersea Park on January 2, 1864 from the FA clubs’ leading players.

A President’s side, featuring CPFC's Turner and Walter Cutbill, triumphed 2-0 over the Secretary’s team, with Palace’s Alfred Lloyd on the losing side.

The FA shaped the rules of the fledgling national game in the 1860s and 70s in conjunction with the Sheffield FA.

Palace reached the FA Cup semi-final in the competition's maiden year in 1871 and provided players for the early international fixtures.

Nicknamed the Palatians, the team folded in 1876 after losing their home ground at Crystal Palace Park for a second time.

The old Crystal Palace club may no longer be around but will be remembered for its important contribution to the birth of football.


Further reading on the original CPFC

Palace Pioneers: How the first Crystal Palace FC helped create the modern game. Available for £9.99 on Amazon.

'The First Crystal Palace Football Club 1861-1876' by Stuart Hibberd. For a copy, email: 1861football@gmail.com, £19.95.

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