Navigation

News and events

On the hunt for football’s founders

30 April 2013

Rachel Atkinson

UCLan researcher is working with FA to find the descendants of national game’s founding fathers

Copyright: The Football Association

A researcher from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is working with the Football Association (FA) to find the living descendants of the founding fathers of football.

Jane Clayton, a post doctorial researcher in the University’s International Football Institute, wants the public to come forward with information on the eight men that established the world’s most popular sport 150 years ago.

Hailing from across the country, surprisingly little is known about these trail-blazers who gathered together on 26 October 1863 in the Freemasons’ Tavern, London, to draft the 13 original laws of association football.

The FA is now in its 150th year and Jane is working with them to trace the tree of football.

The Founding Fathers of football are:
1. Ebenezer Cobb Morley (1831-1924)
2. Arthur Pember (1835-1886)
3. Charles William Alcock (1842-1907)
4. Francis Maule Campbell (1843-1920)
5. John Forster Alcock (1841-1910)
6. Herbert Thomas Steward (1839-1915)
7. George Twizell Wawn (1840-1914)
8. James Turner

“This is an important historical search. We know so much about people who were pioneers in their chosen fields but surprisingly, little is known about the individuals responsible for gifting us the most popular sport in the world.”

Jane said: “This is an important historical search. We know so much about people who were pioneers in their chosen fields but surprisingly, little is known about the individuals responsible for gifting us the most popular sport in the world. We have initiated the historical search and whilst information is limited, we have a good base upon which to work. We are confident that by October, through genealogical research and the public’s help we can trace some of the living descendants of the founding fathers of football.”

Living descendants that can be identified and located will be sent an invitation to a special ceremony at Wembley in October where their ancestors will be honoured.

The original 1863 FA Minute Book penned by Ebenezer Cobb Morley, is currently on display at Wembley Stadium. It contains the first laws of football ratified during those early meetings 150 years ago. Such is its historical significance, the minute book has been labelled among the most important books of all time, with Melvyn Bragg including it alongside the Magna Carta, On The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin and The First Folio by Shakespeare as one of twelve books that changed the world.

“We should all recognise not only the sporting contribution that these men have made but the impact that football has had in this country and around the world.”

Current England players, led by captain Steven Gerrard, are supporting the search and have helped create a video calling on fans throughout the country to get involved.

England manager Roy Hodgson added: “We should all recognise not only the sporting contribution that these men have made but the impact that football has had in this country and around the world. Football is part of the fabric of our society and without the vision of these eight men 150 years ago, it may not have come to exist. It is only right that we honour the founding fathers of this nation’s favourite game.”

To find out more about the search for living descendants of the founding fathers, please visit www.thefa.com/foundingfathers and if you have any information that can assist, please email foundingfathers@thefa.com.