Historic fixtures confirms Battersea Park not Wembley as home of modern football

Richmond and Twickenham Times: The Victorian-styled footballers get to grips with the old rules The Victorian-styled footballers get to grips with the old rules

Wembley is viewed by many as football's spiritual home but that honour actually belongs to Battersea Park which hosted the world's first match played under current FA rules.

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the historic fixture a recreation of that first match was held at the park yesterday organised by The Spirit of Football, a not-for-profit company dedicated to promoting the sport.

Players wore period dress and played the first half of the commemorative game according to the original association football rules and the second half under the rules of the modern era.

After the match a commemorative plaque was unveiled by Councillor Ravi Govindia, the leader of Wandsworth Council.

                  Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Eaton House pupils and the organisers and participants.

Coun Govindia said: "Battersea Park occupies a very special place in the rich and colourful story of football.

"It was the location chosen to stage the world’s very first game played according to association football rules.

"This was a landmark moment in the history of the modern game and it was my honour and privilege to unveil a special Wandsworth green plaque in recognition of Battersea Park’s role in the development of this global sport."

                                      Richmond and Twickenham Times:

           Phil Wake, from Spirit of Football, with Coun Ravi Govindia.

Although football had been played in England in various forms since the middle ages, a uniform set of rules was not compiled until the latter part of the nineteenth century.

Up until that point, the sport was a hybrid that involved both kicking and handling, with competing teams having to negotiate the rules of each game before kick off, largely dependant on the state of the pitch.

By the 1860s pressure was building for a uniform set of rules, and this led to the establishment of the Football Association in October 1863.

         

                   Richmond and Twickenham Times:

   Jack Bhan Woodall, 11, sporting an impressive beard.

In December of that year the FA drew up the original 13 rules of association football which have remained largely unchanged and govern the modern global game.

To test out these new rules the FA arranged a showcase fixture in Battersea Park on January 9, 1864 involving all the best players in England.

A team captained by the FA president beat one led by the FA secretary 2-0, with both goals scored by Charles William Alcock, a celebrated footballer and sports journalist who went on to become Honorary Secretary of the FA.

A toast raised at the conclusion of the game was "Success to football, irrespective of class or creed."

Yesterday's celebrations also included a five-a-side tournament involving Wandsworth schools.

                        Richmond and Twickenham Times:

                     A Victorian player schools a young pupil.

The commemorative game also used a ball provided by The Spirit of Football, which will then be carried on a special pilgrimage covering 30,000 miles across Europe and the Americas en route to the World Cup in Brazil.

For more information about this journey visit www.spiritoffootball.com


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