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History of Southern League Football

History of Southern League Football

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In March, 1888, William McGregor, a director of Aston Villa, circulated a letter suggesting that "ten or twelve of the most prominent clubs in England combine to arrange home and away fixtures each season." The following month the Football League was formed. It consisted of six clubs from Lancashire (Accrington, Blackburn Rovers, Burnley, Everton and Preston North End) and six from the Midlands (Aston Villa, Derby County, Notts County, Stoke, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanders). The main reason Sunderland was excluded was because the other clubs in the league objected to the costs of travelling to away games.

Professional football was slow to develop in southern England. In 1891 Arsenal became the first London side to turn professional. Arsenal attempted to establish a Southern League and when that failed, they joined the Football League in 1893.

In 1894 Millwall played a leading role in the creation of a Southern League. Other founder members included Reading, Luton Town, Swindon Town, Chatlam, Clapton and Ilford. Millwall won the league for the first two years of its existence.

By the 1900-1901 season the first division of the Southern League included Millwall, Southampton, Reading, Portsmouth, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United.

The strength of the Southern League was shown by the fact that Southampton reached the final of the FA Cup in 1900 and 1902. In both cases Southampton were defeated finalists, however, in 1901, another Southern League team, Tottenham Hotspur won the cup.

Most of the top teams in the Southern League joined the Football League over the next few years. In 1920 virtually the entire top division of the Southern League was absorbed by the Football League to become that league's new Third Division. A year later this became the Third Division South.

Super Bowl History

The Super Bowl is an enormously popular sporting event that takes place each year to determine the championship team of the National Football League (NFL). Millions of fans gather around televisions on a Sunday in January or February to celebrate this de facto national holiday. Broadcast in more than 170 countries, the Super Bowl is one of the most-watched sporting events in the world, with elaborate halftime shows, celebrity appearances and cutting-edge commercials adding to the appeal. After more than 50 years of existence, it’s safe to assume that the Super Bowl has become a legendary symbol of American culture. Ahead of Super Bowl 2021𠅊lso known as Super Bowl LV—on Sunday, February 7, here’s everything you need to know about football’s biggest day.

WATCH: Full episodes of The Food That Built America online now.

What the Rise of Southern Football Says About America

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, top, carries the ball against Georgia in November.

College football has been conquered, in nearly every respect, by the Deep South.

The Southeastern Conference, a 76-year-old coalition of 12 universities in nine Southern states stretching from Louisiana to Florida, has won three national college football titles in five years, including the last two by blowout, and has an unrivaled 11-4 record in the Bowl Championship Series since 1999.

Its teams lead the nation in average attendance, have five of the 12 highest-paid coaches in college football and just signed two broadcast deals worth as much as $3 billion over the next 15 years. Tomorrow, Alabama and Florida, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 by the Associated Press, play for the conference title -- with the winner likely heading to the national title game.

The engine of this success is college football's unshakable primacy in Southern culture -- plus the recent shifts in population and wealth, the protection of politicians and some prescient financial moves by the conference that have reinforced it.

In recent years, the South has undergone rapid growth. Twenty-seven of the 50 fastest-growing metropolitan regions in the country in 2007 were in the South, while personal-income growth in the region outpaced the national average over the past decade. These changes have added muscle to the South's historic passion for college football. While they rank low in many measures like per-capita income and educational achievement, states like Alabama and Mississippi rank close to the top in the percentage of high-school students who play football. And among states that have more than 10 native sons playing in the National Football League, the top six producers by percentage of population are Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

Woodruff, Fuzzy, 1884-1929.

Published by Pranava Books, 2020

New - Hardcover
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Southern League

In 1933, a third ("Central") section was added, mostly consisting of clubs already in the Eastern or Western Sections to give them extra comeptitive fixtures.

Season Eastern Section Western Section Central Section
1933-34 Norwich City reserves Plymouth Argyle reserves Plymouth Argyle reserves
1934-35 Norwich City reserves Yeovil & Petters United Folkestone
1935-36 Margate Plymouth Argyle reserves Margate

In 1936, the regional sections were merged, and a Mid-week section was added to give teams additional fixtures.

With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the league hurriedly arranged a 1939-40 season of small East and West Divisions. The League then went into abeyance for the duration of the War. The two Champions competed in a play-off, which was drawn and the two declared joint champions.

The League resumed in 1945-46 with a single division

Season Champions
1945-46 Chelmsford City
1946-47 Gillingham
1947-48 Merthyr Tydfil
1948-49 Gillingham
1949-50 Merthyr Tydfil
1950-51 Merthyr Tydfil
1951-52 Merthyr Tydfil
1952-53 Headington United
1953-54 Merthyr Tydfil
1954-55 Yeovil Town
1955-56 Guildford City
1956-57 Kettering Town
1957-58 Gravesend & Northfleet

In 1958, enough new clubs were added to split into two sections, initially split solely on a geographic basis

Season North West South East
1958-59 Hereford United Bedford Town

In 1959, the Divisions were re-organised to become a Premier Division and a Division One

Season Premier Division Division One
1959-60 Bath City Clacton Town
1960-61 Oxford United Kettering Town
1961-62 Oxford United Wisbech Town
1962-63 Cambridge City Margate
1963-64 Yeovil Town Folkestone Town
1964-65 Weymouth Hereford United
1965-66 Weymouth Barnet
1966-67 Romford Dover
1967-68 Chelmsford City Worcester City
1968-69 Cambridge United Brentwood Town
1969-70 Cambridge United Bedford Town
1970-71 Yeovil Town Guildford City

In 1971, Division One was split into North and South Sections

Season Premier Division Division One North Division One South
1971-72 Chelmsford City Kettering Town Waterlooville
1972-73 Kettering Town Grantham Town Maidstone United
1973-74 Dartford Stourbridge Wealdstone
1974-75 Wimbledon Bedford Town Gravesend & Northfleet
1975-76 Wimbledon Redditch United Minehead
1976-77 Wimbledon Worcester City Barnet
1977-78 Bath City Witney Town Margate
1978-79 Worcester City Grantham Dover

In 1979, with clubs leaving to form the Alliance Premier League, the Premier Division was dropped

Season Midland Division Southern Division
1979-80 Bridgend Town Dorchester Town
1980-81 Alvechurch Dartford
1981-82 Nuneaton Borough Wealdstone

In 1982, a Premier Division was re-introduced

Season Premier Division Midland Division Southern Division
1982-83 A P Leamington Cheltenham Town Fisher Athletic
1983-84 Dartford Willenhall Town R S Southampton
1984-85 Cheltenham Town Dudley Town Basingstoke Town
1985-86 Welling United Bromsgrove Rovers Cambridge City
1986-87 Fisher Athletic V S Rugby Dorchester Town
1987-88 Aylesbury United Merthyr Tydfil Dover Athletic
1988-89 Merthyr Tydfil Gloucester City Chelmsford City
1989-90 Dover Athletic Halesowen Town Bashley
1990-91 Farnborough Town Stourbridge Buckingham Town
1991-92 Bromsgrove Rovers Solihull Borough Hastings Town
1992-93 Dover Athletic Nuneaton Borough Sittingbourne
1993-94 Farnborough Town Rushden & Diamonds Gravesend & Northfleet
1994-95 Hednesford Town Newport A F C Salisbury City
1995-96 Rushden & Diamonds Nuneaton Borough Sittingbourne
1996-97 Gresley Rovers Tamworth Forest Green Rovers
1997-98 Forest Green Rovers Grantham Town Weymouth
1998-99 Nuneaton Borough Clevedon Town Havant & Waterlooville

In 1999, the lower divisions were restructured to run East/West
Season Premier Division Division One East Division One West
1999-00 Boston United Fisher Athletic London Stafford Rangers
2000-01 Margate Newport IOW Hinckley United
2001-02 Kettering Town Hastings Town Halesowen Town
2002-03 Tamworth Dorchester Town Merthyr Tydfil
2003-04 Crawley Town King's Lynn Redditch United
2004-05 Histon Fisher Athletic London Mangotsfield United
2005-06 Salisbury Boreham Wood Clevedon Town

In 2006, the lower divisions were renamed and the geographical boundaries amended

Season Premier Division Division One Midlands Division One South & West
2006-07 Bath City Brackley Town Bashley
2007-08 King's Lynn Evesham United Farnborough
2008-09 Corby Town Leamington Truro City
2009-10 Farnborough Bury Town Windsor & Eton

In 2010, Division One Midlands was renamed Division One Central

Season Premier Division Division One Central Division One South & West
2010-11 Truro City Arlesey Town A F C Totton
2011-12 Brackley Town St Neots Town Bideford
2012-13 Leamington Burnham Poole Town
2013-14 Hemel Hempstead Town Dunstable Town Cirencester Town
2014-15 Corby Town Kettering Town Merthyr Town
2015-16 Poole Town King's Langley Cinderford Town
2016-17 Chippenham Town Royston Town Hereford

The Division Ones were renamed in 2017

Season Premier Division Division One East Division One West
2017-18 Hereford Beaconsfield Town Taunton Town

In 2018, an extra Premier Division section was formed and the Division Ones were renamed again.

Down here

WE BELIEVE SOME things, down here. Some of them, I have lived long enough to question. We believe that if a snapping turtle bites you, it will not turn loose until it hears thunder, but since I have seen a snapping turtle as big as a turkey roaster bite a broomstick in two, I believe it will turn loose any time it damn well wants. We believe snakes have mystical powers and will charm you if you look into their eyes. When I retire, I plan to test that theory on water moccasins at my stock pond, and if they have not charmed me in four or five seconds, I will shoot them. Then, in times of drought, I will hang them in a tree. That, we believe, will make it rain. My grandmother, God rest her soul, told me so, so it must be true.

And we believe -- well, maybe all but the Unitarians -- that God himself favors our football teams. On Friday nights and Saturday afternoons, our coaches, some of them blasphemers and backsliders and not exactly praying men the other six days of the week, tell their players to hit a knee and ask his favor at the same exact instant the other team is also asking his favor, which I have always taken to mean that God, all things being equal, favors the team with the surest holder on long field goals.

It is gospel -- the gospel according to Bear. After a rare Alabama loss in the Bryant era, Bear's sidekick on his weekly television show told him: "The Lord just wasn't with us, Coach."

"The Lord," growled Bryant, "expects you to block and tackle."

QB Ken Stabler and the Tide finish 11-0 with a Sugar Bowl win over Nebraska on Jan. 2, 1967. Paul W. Bryant Museum/The University of Alabama

The point is, and we talk real slow down here, so it may take awhile to get to it, that we believe some things regardless of science and sometimes common sense. And what we mostly believe in -- across racial, political, religious and economic lines -- is football. We believe absolutely in our supremacy over all pretenders, upstarts and false prophets from the North, East, West and some heathen parts of Florida that are too sissy to mix it up with the real men of the SEC. We have been fed that belief since we were infants. That, and an unhealthy amount of Coca-Cola in our baby bottles.

But for years and years, we have even had the science of the BCS on our side and have grown accustomed to the pretty way that crystal trophy catches the light for three years it has not even exited the state of Alabama. We are sure of this pre-eminence -- so sure that we view all the years when the South was not dominant in college football as a surreal space-and-time fluctuation, like the dancing hot dog and bun they used to show at intermission at the Bama Drive-in theater on Highway 21 north of Anniston, Ala., which we watched through a blur of Boone's Farm. It was just temporary, just intermission, 'til the real show resumed.

We felt no disappointment in January, when two SEC teams played in a rematch for the national championship in New Orleans. We have long known that the real battle was in playing each other anyway. South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, who was nicknamed the Evil Genius when he was the head coach at Florida, said recently that it is harder to win an SEC championship than a national one. "Ask Nick Saban," he said, though he might have just been trying to be a smart aleck.

My uncle John Couch, who made tires for 20 years at the Goodyear plant in Gadsden, Ala., is a Crimson Tide fan. Years ago, in the era of Bear Bryant and Shug Jordan, he suffered through a brief Auburn resurgence, in years he cannot precisely recall, nor cares to. But he remembers seeing a co-worker strutting around the plant in an old Auburn jacket. He remembers how he walked up to the man, leaned in close to him and sniffed.

Somewhere, right now, an Auburn man is telling that same story, the other way around. We know the true big games. We might not even be able to tell you whom we played in a bowl game long ago, probably against a Yankee team that would melt like Crisco in the furnace of a Southern summer, but we remember how we did against Florida or Tennessee or Georgia. We know that if our teams survive the outright savagery of an SEC regular season, their regional rivalries, they can beat anyone.

There will always be the occasional Utah or rare Boise State in down years, but they are an aberration, like heat lightning. "Somebody else might win a championship," says my uncle John, "sneaking out through the back door." Don't get him started on Notre Dame.

We know deep in our guts that it is not truly a birthright. We know that it takes blood and sweat to win in college football. We know that dominant programs are built by smart and relentless taskmasters like Saban, who is so serious about the process -- the science of it -- that when he allowed himself a big smile after winning a second national championship in three years, it kind of scared me, as if
Billy Graham had done a handstand.

When Spurrier went to South Carolina seven seasons ago, he was disheartened when he heard fans applaud the team after a close loss. "Please don't clap," he told them, "when we lose a game."

I, personally, think we're a little wack-a-doodle but usually in a good way. Before the hate mail begins to flood in, or people start leaching bile into a chat room, they should know that this story -- half of it, anyway -- is written in fun, because that is how I view this game.

The Gators take their first of two BCS titles with a win over Ohio State in '07, beginning a run of SEC dominance and birthing the legend of Tim Tebow. Charles Sonnenblick/Getty Images

I had Alabama season tickets once, but it's hard to take anything too seriously when you're up around Neptune and can barely discern actual human beings. Situated somewhere above the catfish concession, I came home smelling like french-fried taters. And while it is a joy to watch real Southern football, from any seat, my self-worth has never been bound to this game, though there have been times in our history as a region when it seemed it was all we had. For Southerners, to say we do not care is to invite suspicion. We must know football to be Southern.

"At LSU, for instance, everybody knows what Les Miles should have done," says George C. Rable, the Charles G. Summersell chair in Southern history at Alabama, whose football heart belongs mostly to his grad school alma mater, LSU. That means last season he was 1-1. in a purely mathematical sense. A friend at LSU tells him that since the championship game, "one of the big donors has refused to wear any LSU attire. he is not wearing his hat." How mad do you have to be to not wear your hat?

An award-winning author of books on Southern history, Rable is not a native Southerner but grew up in another football incubator, in Lima, Ohio, in the swirl of Ohio State-Michigan, rooting for the Buckeyes. He came down here to see real obsession. He once exited Tiger Stadium as the faithful chanted: "Go to hell, Ole Miss, go to hell."

"And," he says, "we weren't playing Ole Miss."

We do not care so much about professional football here because it is a new phenomenon and has had only 40 or 50 years to catch on. Whereas college football has been an antidote to an often dark history for as long as even our oldest people can recall. We are of long memory here. I gave a talk once in Mobile, Ala., and mentioned that the Southern aristocracy had been on the wrong and losing side in two great conflicts: the Civil War and the civil rights movement, prompting one older gentleman to rise from his seat, huffing that I did not know what I was talking about, and leave the room. Later, I said I was surprised that mentioning the turbulent 1960s would anger anyone so, after so much time. A nice gentleman told me, no, that wasn't it. "He's still mad," the nice man said, "about the war."

Wayne Flynt, professor emeritus of history at Auburn, says the South's devotion to college football probably reaches that far, to a time before there even was any football, to defeats at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, "to a whole lot of times when we just got the hell beat out of us, as a culture."

Reconstruction starved us. Then, the Ku Klux Klan swept candidates into pretty much every elected office in the state of Alabama and burned crosses on the skyline across the South. The rest of the nation, not that it was without sin, looked down in disdain. Then, just after Christmas 1925, the Alabama football team boarded a train for California, for the 1926 Rose Bowl, and fought back against that derision, even if the players did not know they were doing so at the time. Those young men drew, Flynt explains, "on a long history of not being afraid," of the hottest days or endless rows of cotton or a million bales of hay. "It's not like you're unprepared for a little physical suffering," he says, and next to the pain of just living down here, football was, well, like playing games.

Not knowing any of this, the rest of the nation gave Alabama no chance against its Rose Bowl opponent, the vaunted University of Washington, but Southerners knew there was too much at stake to lose. "Even the president of Auburn sent a telegram," says Flynt, "telling them, You are defending the honor of the South, and God's not gonna let you lose this game." Halfback Johnny Mack Brown ran, as one writer described, like a "slippery eel," and the South won something of great value, at last.

Years later, as the apparatus of Southern politics threw itself violently into the shameful oppression of civil rights, white Southern players again won national championships and acclaim on the gridiron, as front-page headlines belittled and ridiculed the region for its backwardness. College football was not a cure, not a tonic for what was wrong in the South, merely a balm.

Then, as black athletes finally made their way into predominantly white universities, they fought their own battles on those Southern fields, "for something else," says Flynt, for a place not only of acceptance in the greater society and therefore a heroic place in the national history, but also a place in that shining legacy of championships, until the color line in college football finally faded away. Most of us cannot even imagine a team of any other character. And through it all, the winning continued 'til it became expectation.

Heisman winner Cam Newton rallies the Tigers from a 24-point deficit in the Iron Bowl on Nov. 26, 2010. John Reed/US Presswire

Other parts of the country would try to condemn us for the South's very success, which made about as much sense, Flynt says, as our condemning someone else for being good at math. Our climate, culture and history made us supreme at this thing. "Why should you put us down," he says, "because we are?"

Elsewhere, fans still grumble that Southern colleges are dominant at football for reasons that are, amusingly, no different from what makes their own programs successful from time to time. They say we have better athletes because we have lower academic standards, but that notion has become a glass house in which other colleges in other regions no longer wish to throw stones. Because history has shown that all programs have intelligent young men, some who possess the potential of Rhodes scholars, and other young men who think you spell that r-o-a-d-s. But region has little to do with which teams have more of the latter. Alabama's graduation ranking, as Saban points out, was third among BCS schools last season, behind Penn State and Stanford.

A recruiting scandal has also proved to have no geographical bias, as much as other programs would like to pretend it only happens, down here. USC, for instance, the place where Reggie Bush's Heisman once sat, could not be farther from the South unless it was floating in the Pacific on a barge. Intolerance for losing has no geography either -- losing coaches are fired, even in places with ice fishing. The people who say "they're football-crazy down there" probably play on something called Smurf Turf, or wear blocks of foam-rubber cheese on their heads. The people who say "football is religion down there" should be reminded that we did not invent Touchdown Jesus.

And the greatest scandal of college football, the greatest darkness, did not descend on the South but in Happy Valley, a tragedy beyond comprehension for another storied program, one that would rewrite a legend. The entire history of Southern football, in all its fanaticism, with all its lust for winning, has nothing to compare. But like SEC commissioner Mike Slive said, there is a warning in that lesson for everyone, including us.

We do lose, of course. We feel the air grow thick when we do. Our limbs grow heavy. I have stood on the beautiful campuses of Southern universities and seen what, I swear, was a kind of graying of the landscape, as if losing had bleached out the beautiful red of the bricks and green of the lawns. It cannot be true, of course, but it feels true, and it lingers for days. Books are read, papers written, problems solved. But it feels a little like the day after Christmas.

"It's absolutely spiritual there is no tomorrow," says Mike Foley, master lecturer and Hugh Cunningham professor in Journalism Excellence at Florida, who has a Gator tattooed on his right shoulder. He got it in a fit of youthful exuberance and impetuousness. He was 40-something.
Somewhere in this steamy landscape -- Ole Miss, perhaps, or Vanderbilt -- a regular-season loss is not the end of the world, and there are such things as moral victories and good college tries.

Not Tuscaloosa. Not Baton Rouge. Not Auburn. Not Athens. Not Fayetteville, where they wear rubber pigs on their heads and yell "sooooooieeeeeeee." Judges do that. Deacons. Florists. Presidents.

"It's a pretty damn hard league," said Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, when asked by reporters about playing his first SEC West schedule. As my grandmother, God rest her soul, would say, he might need prayer. Yet the supremacy will someday end -- probably on a bad call. "This, surely, can't last forever," says Rable, the Alabama professor from Ohio. "Texas will be back. USC will be back."

Says Foley: "God, that would be horrible. Lane Kiffin. " Tennessee people still hope to catch him in a crosswalk for what he did to them.

Says Rable: "I was in Ohio and they already had T-shirts in the malls that read 'Urban Nation.' "

I wish, often, that we cared as deeply about other things here in my native South as we do football. "It has become," Rable says, "what's important," sometimes to exclusion. My wife, who knows everything, says not to fret. We are going to be football crazy anyway, she told me, so we might as well beat everyone else. The fact is, it lifts our hearts. It always has.

In the winter of 1993, in an attic apartment in Cambridge, Mass., I sat homesick and watched Alabama beat the trash-talkin' Hurricanes -- I mean beat them like they stole somethin' -- to win its first national championship since Bear died. Late that night I walked through a deserted Harvard Yard, through snow and bitter cold, and thought I might yell "Roll Tide," though no one would hear. I did it anyway.

History of Southern League Football - History



Croydon Common, and not Crystal Palace, was the first professional football club to be based in the borough of Croydon.

Prior to the First World War, t he club played in the Southern League along with many of the household names of today, such as West Ham United , Norwich City, Southampton, QPR, Crystal Palace, Watford and Millwall. Indeed, 19 of the 20 clubs in Division One of the Southern League at the outbreak of war in 1914 later became long term members of the Football League. The only one not to do so was Croydon Common.

The club, nicknamed t he Robins because of its first choice strip of claret shirts, was founded in 1897 and played in various local leagues before turning professional and joining the Southern League in 1907. The club was always in financial trouble and , when it finally folded in 1917, its ground in Selhurst , known as The Nest , was taken over by local rivals Crystal Palace and used until Selhurst Park was built.

The club had some memorable moments in its short life, such as beating Bradford Park Avenue of the Football League away in the F.A. Cup and taking Arsenal (then Woolwich Arsenal, but already well established in the top flight) to a replay in the same competition in both 1909 and 1913.

This site sets out some of the club's history and is dedicated to the memory of all who donned the claret shirt . Click on the badge below to read a 14,000 word short history of the club.



On March 3, 1902, Russell Athletic was founded by 26-year-old Benjamin Russell as the Russell Manufacturing Company in Alexander City, AL. The tiny factory had 10 sewing machines and 8 knitting machines. Russell Manufacturing Company&rsquos first garment was a women and children&rsquos knit shirt. Benjamin Russell&rsquos passion for sports and his entrepreneurial spirit fueled civic pride creating jobs for his community, while later making uniforms for teams and apparel for athletes throughout the United States.

In 1926, Founder Ben Russell&rsquos son, Benny, came to his dad with a new idea for an all-cotton practice football jersey replacing the itchy, chafing wool uniforms worn at that time. Knowing the comfort and durability of cotton, the iconic crew neck sweatshirt began production in the Russell Athletic mills in 1930.

Russell went on to acquire Southern Manufacturing Company, which gave the company access to athletic team apparel. This was the beginning of the Russell Athletic division’s cutting and sewing operations. Russell began making woven athletic garments, including basketball, baseball and football pants and jackets for teams across the United States.

Benjamin Russell died on December 16, 1941 passing the company’s torch to his son Benjamin C. Russell.

During World War II, Russell&rsquos athletic division primarily supplied the U.S. military with shirts, men's underwear, T-shirts, athletic wear and special outer garments specifically made for the Army and Navy.

In 1945, Benjamin C. Russell passed away succeeded by his brother Thomas D. Russell.

Historical Football Kits

With a history going back to 1879, Fulham are one of the oldest senior clubs in London. They started out as a Sunday school team, leading a nomadic life as St Andrews (Fulham St Andrews from 1886). Their earliest colours are recorded as light and dark blue. The first known match report, dating from 1883, indicates they wore halved tops (usually described as "quartered" at the time) although some players wore different shirts in the club colours, a not uncommon occurence in the days when players provided their own kit.

The club dropped "St Andrews" in December 1888 and the following season (1888-89) adopted black and white stripes. Our photograph shows that variations in the design of their shirts were still apparent and two players are wearing white knickers although an undated team photograph that appears to have been taken in the mid-1890s shows the whole team kitted out in 3" stripes.

In 1892, Fulham joined the West London League and won it at the first attempt and two years later they moved into Craven Cottage which is still their home today. The ground was in such a state that it was not until 1896, with the team now wearing red and white, that the first match was held there. One year later Fulham joined the Second Division of the Southern League and in December 1898, the decision to turn professional was taken. In 1903 the club was promoted to the Southern League First Division and adopted their now traditional white shirts and black shorts. The hooped stockings worn at the time were highly unusual if not unique. After winning the championship in 1906 and 1907, Fulham were elected to the Football League, replacing Burton United in the Second Division.

Fulham hardly set the world alight although they generally finished in the top half of the table. During the 1920s they endured a gradual decline and were relegated to Division Three (South) in 1928 although four years later they returned to the Second Division.

The first time a crest appeared on the team's shirts was in 1931, a representation of Craven Cottage, which appeared until the outbreak of war in 1939.

After the Second World War, Fulham began to enjoy greater success. For a start a new crest was introduced, basically the coat of arms of the old London Borough of Fulham. The earliest versions were gigantic but after 1951 these were replaced by smaller ones in white and black without the legend below the shield. This classic design was worn until 1973.

In 1949 they won the Second Division championship and spent three seasons in the First Division before being relegated in 1952. In 1959 they were promoted again and remained in the First Division for the next nine seasons, albeit constantly struggling against relegation. Disaster struck finally when successive relegations took Fulham down the Division Three in 1969. In 1971, they were promoted back to the Second Division.

By this time the old coat of arms was looking distinctly old fashioned by the standards of the time so it was duly replaced by a a more up to date monogram in an unusual script.

In 1975, with former England players Bobby Moore and Alan Mullery in the side, Fulham reached the FA Cup final where they lost to West Ham. In the following years, George Best and Rodney Marsh joined the club. While the football was attractive to watch, success proved elusive.

The monogram was replaced in 1977 by a simplified version of the Hammersmith & Fulham coat of arms. This was replaced after just one season by a circular badge but was reinstated in 1984.

During the 1980s Fulham moved between the Second and Third Divisions but they found themselves in the basement in 1994 after a succession of owners came and went, all with their sights set on acquiring the valuable Craven Cottage real estate. Thanks to a vigorous campaign by supporters co-ordinated by former player Jimmy Hill, the club secured their future at the Cottage but their very survival was now in doubt. In January 1996, Fulham, attracting a mere 4,000 spectators to their home games, were next to bottom of the League and had debts spiralling out of control. Former player, Micky Adams took charge and lifted the team to finish in 17th place. The following season, they won promotion to Nationwide Division Two (previously the Third Division).

During this turmoil a new crest was introduced that was effectively identical to the 1945 version optimised for digital reproduction.

In May 1997, Harrods owner Mohamed al-Fayed bought the freehold of Craven Cottage and the majority shareholding in Fulham FC. Al-Fayed dismissed critics who predicted that he would asset-strip the club and laid out his plans to take Fulham into the Premier League within five years. After persuading Kevin Keegan out of retirement, al-Fayed opened his cheque book to bring quality players to the club. In 1999, Fulham ran away with the Nationwide Division Two championship, finishing 14 points clear. Keegan's departure to become England manager proved a setback but in summer 2000, Jean Tigana, a member of the great French side of the 1980, was appointed. Tigana brought modern coaching methods and revolutionised squad management.

In 2001, al-Fayed's five-year plan reached fruition a year early as Fulham won the Nationwide First Division championship. A smart new crest was introduced for the first Premier League campaign that broke with tradition and emphasised the new, forward-thinking approach.

Having established themselves in the Premiership, Fulham announced plans to redevelop Craven Cottage but these were stalled by local residents. With legal and building costs spiralling out of control, the board abandoned plans for the new stadium in favour of a more modest refurbishment, completed in 2004.

After qualifying for the new Europa League in 2009-10, Fulham enjoyed a remarkable run that saw them reach the final where they were narrowly beaten by Atletico Madrid in Hamburg.

In July 2013 Mohamed al-Fayed sold the club to Shahid Khan, a Pakistan born billionaire based in the United States, for a figure reported to be between £150-£200m. During his ownership, al-Fayed had made £187m in interest-free loans to the club, which he converted into equity, leaving Fulham debt-free. Unfortunately this did not translate into performances and at the end of the season Fulham were relegated to the championship after 13 years in the top tier.

In 2017-18 Fulham overcame Aston Villa in the play-off final to make their return to the Premier League but their return was short lived, relegation following immediately. However, they won promotion through the play-offs in 2020.


  • (a) Fulham FC - The Official 125 Year Illustrated History (Dennis Turner 2004)
  • (b) Doncaster Rovers FC - Images of Sport (Peter Tuffrey 2001)
  • (c) Football Cards
  • (d) Football Focus
  • (e) Fulham FC Official Website
  • (f) Sporting Heroes
  • (g) True Colours (John Devlin 2005)
  • (h) Pete's Picture Palace
  • (i) Pete Pomeroy
  • (j) David King
  • (k) Football League Review provided by Simon Monks
  • (l) Peter Bird
  • (m) Simon Monks
  • (n) Christopher Worrall
  • (o) The Lord Price Collection
  • (p) Keith Ellis (HFK Research Associate)
  • (q) Jamie Glynn
  • (r) Stein Jacobsen
  • (s) Fulham.wikia.com
  • (t) Football & the First World War

Old crest images sourced from Vital Fulham and Friends of Fulham. Crests are the property of Fulham FC.

Historical Football Kits

Chelsea joined the League before they had played a single game - an achievement they share with Bradford City. The club came into being at the behest of a builder, Gus Mears and his brother who aquired the site of the Stamford Bridge Athletic ground and a neighbouring market garden with a view to building a football stadium. The plan lay fallow for a while until the Great Western Railway Company approached the brothers to buy the land for marshalling yards. Rather than sell their asset, the Mears brothers raised the money they needed to build the second largest stadium in England after Crystal Palace and called it Stamford Bridge. When Fulham FC declined an invitation to move in because the annual £1,500 rent was too high, the brothers simply went ahead and formed their own club, Chelsea FC. After an approach to join the Southern League was snubbed following objections from Spurs and Fulham, Chelsea successfuly applied to join the Second Division of the Football League.

Initially, Chelsea played in the racing colours associated with the Earl of Cadogan, who was the club's president and also held the title Viscount Chelsea. Weatherby's Ltd, who maintain historical records of racing silks, have confirmed to HFK that these colours were Eton blue and white. Club historians have suggested several dates for the switch to royal blue but the earliest reference, a match programme found by Nik Yeomans (April 2019) records that Chelsea wore "blue and white" against Lincoln City on 13 October 1906.

The club was nicknamed "The Pensioners" because of the association with the war veterans in their famous red uniforms known as the Chelsea Pensioners, which was reflected in their official crest. This never appeared on the team shirts.

After finishing third in their first season, Chelsea was promoted to Division One for the first time in 1907, their second season. They made little impression, however, and spent most of the Twenties in Division Two. The club flirted with success but never fulfilled their potential. The club has always enjoyed the patronage of celebrity supporters because of its fashionable location and proximity to the West End. Many star players graced the team in the inter-war years but nevertheless, they became a music hall joke with a reputation as the proverbial "nearly team."

In 1930 a look was established that became the template for the next 25 years, consisting of royal blue shirts with contrasting rugby-style collars, white knickers, black stockings with blue and white turnovers. Hooped socks that appear to be light blue and white were worn in a reds v blues pre-season game in 1934 and again in home matches against Spurs (15 Sept 1934) and Stoke (October) and it is unclear why.

In 1952 Ted Drake took over as manager and he replaced the pensioner crest with a more business like monogram on a shield. This badge never appeared on the team's shirts. Drake's workmanlike team broke the mould when Chelsea won the League Championship for the first time in 1955.

In 1960 Chelsea added a crest to their shirts for the first time. Inspired by the civic coat of arms of the London Borough of Chelsea, it bore a lion rampant derived from the arms of the club's first president, the Earl of Cadogan.

In 1961, Chelsea were relegated to Division Two but bounced back the following season to embark on their most successful period to date. In March 1964 the team played in blue shorts to match their shirts and white socks. There is evidence that an earlier version was made up in 1962 but rejected as being too radical a change at the time. Chelsea were, incidentally, the first team to play in Division One with numbers on their shorts.

The new look evolved gracefully at the start of the 1964-65 season with white trim added incrementally and a new cypher that replaced the old Cadogan crest, which had been retired in 1963.

The lion motif was revived in 1967 and has remained the centre piece of the club crest ever since.

Throughout the Sixties Chelsea rode high in the League and started to collect cup trophies: the League Cup in 1965 was followed by the FA Cup (1970) and the European Cup-Winners' Cup (1971). In the 1970-71 season, a small image of the FA Cup was embroidered next to the crest while from the 1971-72 season two stars were added to represent these last two famous cup wins.

Nik Yeomans has discovered that Chelsea wore white shorts and black socks with blue and white turnovers at Stoke, Leeds and West Ham in 1973-74. The same strip was worn the following season in two League Cup ties against Stoke. Further research by Nik has revealed these programme notes from February 1974: The reason we wore white shorts. at Leeds last Saturday was . a stocking clash! Because Leeds wear white stockings we changed to black (with coloured top) and as it was felt that a strip of blue shirts, blue socks and black stockings would look too dark, we opted for white shorts. Later that season yellow socks were worn when there was a clash.

In 1975 Chelsea were relegated to Division Two and although they returned four seasons later, in 1979 they went down again. After languishing in Division Two for five seasons, Chelsea were promoted as champions in 1984. After two promising seasons, they went down once more but won the Second Division championship the following season and they have remained in the top flight ever since.

By the mid Eighties the board decided to update their image and a new crest was designed that featured a lion leaping over the letters CFC. This appeared in various forms with the lion rendered in white, red or yellow to match the accent colour for that season.

In 1986-87 Chelsea became the first club to market strips under their own name, the Chelsea Collection. At first these were without a sponsor before Bai Lin Tea, a slimming aid created by Peter Foster briefly appeared in early 1987. The product proved to be bogus and the logo was soon removed: Foster, a career criminal and con artist was arrested and jailed. The shirts were briefly sponsored by Grange Farm, the property of chairman Ken Bates who was fond of telling assembled hacks, "I'm off to my 300 acre farm. You lot can bugger off to your council houses." It appears a logotype was only applied to change shirts. The Italian sportswear company, Simod, took over as sponsor in February 1987. Their logo type appeared in gold for the first game and thereafter was white.

In 1994, Chelsea reached the FA Cup final once again but lost heavily to Manchester United. Chelsea won the FA Cup in 1997, the League Cup in 1998 and the FA Cup once again in 2000. League performances also improved as a succession of high profile managers recruited top foreign stars under the determined and controversial leadership of Ken Bates, who bought the club earlier in the decade.

In 2003, Chelsea's long-standing and controversial chairman, Ken Bates sold the club to Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch reputed to be worth between up to £3.8bn. While the origins of Abramovich's wealth may be obscure, there was no doubt about his intentions as over the next few years he poured huge amounts of cash into the club to enable them to sign some of the world's leading players. Indeed, at a time when the global transfer market was in recession, Abramovich's millions bucked the trend, propelling the one time music hall joke into the elite of European football. After the appointment of the charismatic Portuguese manager, Jose Mourinho, Chelsea won the first of back-to-back Premier League titles in 2005, exactly 50 years after their first League title, followed by the FA Cup in 2007.

After that first Premier League title, a new crest was designed for the 2005-06 season. Based on the 1960 design it was introduced for the club's centenary. Some minor variations in the arrangment of the colours have appeared such as in 2012-13.

The following September, after persistent stories in the media concerning Mourinho's relationship with Abramovich, the "Special One" departed and his place was taken by Avram Grant, the Director of Football for the Israeli Football Association. In his first season in charge, Grant steered his expensive team (it was reported that Abramovich's investment amounted to around £750 million in interest-free loans) to within an ace of winning a fabulous double. They finished as runners-up to Manchester United after going into the last round of Premier league matches level on points. Ten days later Chelsea and United clashed again in the UEFA Champions League final, United eventually winning on penalties. These results cost Grant his job and he was replaced by Luiz Felipe Scolari. Scolari was himself sacked in the middle of the 2008-09 season and replaced by Guus Hiddink for the remainder of the season.

Carlo Ancelotti took over at the beginning of the 2009-10 season and took Chelsea to a historic double. Second place in 2011 was not good enough, however, and he too was handed his cards by Mr Abramovich as was his successor, Andre Villas-Boas. It fell to their caretaker manager, Roberto di Matteo, who took over in March 2012, to lead Chelsea to their seventh FA Cup win and an historic UEFA Champions League title, won on penalties in Munich against Bayern Munich.

Rafael Benitez took over from di Matteo but was unpopular with supporters and the club announced that his contract would not be renewed at the end of the season. Even so he steered Chelsea to third place in the Premier League and a dramatic late win over Benfica to secure the Europa League trophy. Jose Mourinho returned in the summer of 2013 as manager and led the club to success in the League Cup in March 2015 followed two months later by the Premier League title.

Following a poor 2015-16 season Chelsea announced that they would be cancelling their agreement with Adidas six years early (incurring a £54m termination fee) in order to pursue a more lucrative deal elsewhere.

Antonio Conte took over as manager in April 2016 and guided Chelsea to their sixth title in his first season in charge.