Oldest Football Clubs in England [Top 20 Ranked]

England is known as the home of football, and it is a country where many clubs were formed before the turn of the twentieth century.

While many of these teams have ceased to exist, as we will see, there are plenty of clubs still playing today that celebrate their long and at times illustrious histories.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these clubs and where they are now.

Oldest Existing Football Clubs in England

Sheffield Football Club1857The oldest football club in the world; currently playing in the Northern Premier League Division 1
Hallam FC1860Second-oldest club worldwide; currently playing in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division, the ninth level of the English football league system 
Notts County1862Playing in the National League, tier five of English football
Stoke City1863Originally formed as Stoke Ramblers before changing name
Wrexham1864One of five Welsh sides currently playing in the English football leagues
Brigg Town1864The Lincolnshire club play in black-and-white stripes and are known as The Zebras
Nottingham Forest1865Returned to the Premier League in 2022/23 after a 23-year absence
Sheffield Wednesday1867The League One club was founded as The Wednesday
Maidenhead United1870Currently playing in the National League; one of 15 clubs to play in the inaugural FA Cup in 1871/72
Marlow FC1870Lost to Maidenhead United in the first-ever FA Cup competition in 1871/72
Old Etonians1871The club plays in the Arthurian League, an English football league for teams consisting of old boys of public schools
Reading1871Having spent time in the English Premier League, Reading now play in the Championship, England’s second tier
Southall1871Based in Ealing, London, the club are currently members of the Isthmian League South Central Division
Uxbridge1871Like Southall, Uxbridge play in the Isthmian League South Central Division
Aston Villa1874Currently a Premier League side, and won the European Cup in 1982
Bolton Wanderers1874Based in Bolton, Lancashire, the club is currently in League One, England’s third tier
Grantham Town1874The club ply their trade down the English football pyramid in the Northern Premier League Division One East
Birmingham City1875The Championship club was founded under the name Small Heath Alliance
Blackburn Rovers1875Despite spending several seasons in the Premier League, and being English champions in 1995, the club are now in the Championship
Middlesbrough1876One of the founding members of the English Premier League in 1992, but have been in the Championship since 2017.
Last updated: 07/08/22

Which is the Oldest Premier League Club?

Thanks to their promotion in 2021/22, Nottingham Forest now have the honour of being the oldest Premier League club, having been established in 1865.

Stoke City are the oldest club to have ever played in the Premier League, as they were founded in 1863, two years before Forest, but they now play in the second-tier EFL Championship.

First Football Club in England

The first football club established in England was Sheffield Football Club in 1857, with the club recognised by the world governing body FIFA as the world’s oldest existing club still playing football.

In 2004 they were given the FIFA Order of Merit – an award given to only one other club – Real Madrid – and in 2007 they were inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame to commemorate their 150th anniversary.

First Football Clubs in England

Sheffield FC1857
Wanderers1859 – founded as Forest Club; dissolved 1887
Hallam1860
Crystal Palace1861 – Not the current Crystal Palace, founded in 1905; dissolved 1876
Notts County1862
Barnes FC1862; dissolved, date unknown
Stoke City1863
Royal Engineers AFC1863
Brigg Town1864
Harrow Chequers1865; dissolved 1891
Hertfordshire Rangers1865; dissolved 1891
Nottingham Forest1865
Cambridge University1866
Uptown Park1866; dissolved 1911
Sheffield Wednesday1867
Leyton1868; dissolved 2011
Swifts1868; dissolved 1890
Clapham Rovers1869; dissolved 1911
Abingdon Town1870 – founded as Abingdon FC
Maidenhead United1870

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Thomas Smith

Tommy is a freelance writer and editor based in Spain but originally from the north east of Scotland. A former daily newspaper reporter, he is passionate about football, loves cricket and snooker and enjoys watching most sports.

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