One hundred and fifty years ago today (Saturday), the Football Association was formed in London, helping to create the game as we now know it.
Chelsea Football Club holds a longstanding relationship with the Football Association. Stamford Bridge hosted the FA Cup final for three years between 1920 and 1922 before Wembley Stadium was constructed, and the first ever Charity Shield match in 1908 was at the Bridge. It has been used 10 times for the fixture, second only to Wembley.
The Blues are the joint fourth most successful side in the world’s oldest cup competition, lifting the FA Cup on seven occasions.
Meanwhile, five former Blues – Walter Winterbottom, Joe Mercer (both wartime guest players), Ron Greenwood, Terry Venables and Glenn Hoddle – have been chosen by English football’s governing body to manage the England national team.
We have also supplied players to the England team throughout our history, ranging from the likes of George Hilsdon and Vivian Woodward in the very early part of the 20th Century through to Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard, who earlier this year both earned their 100th cap representing the Three Lions.
England international matches were held at Stamford Bridge in 1913 when Scotland were beaten 1-0 (pictured below); in 1929 – a 6-0 win for England over Wales; in 1932 – England 4 Austria 3 and soon after the war, a match between England and Switzerland in 1946 which the home side won 4-1.
Chelsea Ladies have been members of the FA Women’s Super League since its inauguration in 2011, while the Chelsea Foundation works with the FA to help develop grassroots female participation projects. Our ground-breaking Asian Star programme, aimed at producing more Asian players and coaches in this country, has also received support from the FA.
Our club secretary, David Barnard (pictured below), follows a long list of Chelsea staff to have lent their assistance to the Football Association over the years. He is a Premier League representative on the FA Council, and also sits on the FA International Committee and the FA Challenge Cup Committee.
Chelsea’s second-longest serving chairman, Joe Mears, also became chairman of the FA in 1963. As such, he played a vital role in the preparations for the 1966 World Cup in England, but sadly he died only a couple of weeks before the tournament began.
The FA has been celebrating the landmark anniversary throughout 2013, and earlier this month hosted 150 special guests at Buckingham Palace, a number which included our very own disability manager, Rob Seale.
The event, hosted by HRH the Duke of Cambridge, saw grassroots heroes rewarded for their hard work and dedication to football, with Seale chosen for his efforts in helping create opportunities for disabled people to enjoy sport through Chelsea Community FC.
The FA’s origins were as an organisation which attempted to standardise the rules of football, and iron out the differences in the various guises of the sport that were being played in the middle of the 19th Century.
Ebenezer Cobb Morley, a solicitor and sportsman living in Barnes, not far from Stamford Bridge, decided that football should have a set of rules like the MCC did with cricket. He met with the captains and secretaries of a dozen clubs, at a pub in Holborn, with the purpose of forming an association which could establish a code of rules for the game of football.
Morley would become the FA’s first secretary, and later its president, drafting modern football’s first rules from his home, with the initial match under FA laws played a couple of months later, Barnes drawing 0-0 against Richmond.
Our players will be wearing special t-shirts commemorating the occasion tomorrow afternoon before our clash with Manchester City.
>> Click here to read a message from The FA President HRH The Duke of Cambridge.