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Top 5 oldest soccer (football) teams in the world

Updated on September 1, 2015

The top 5 below of oldest soccer teams in the world is based on teams that nowadays still exist. Furthermore, this article concerns all soccer teams in the world, so not just the teams that play in the highest league of their country. Just to give you a little spoiler: all teams in this top 5 are British, which is not surprising considered the fact that it was there where soccer was born.

5. Notts County FC (1862)

This soccer team, just like Newcastle United nicknamed ‘the Magpies’, comes from Nottingham and is considered to be one of the pioneers of playing soccer by the rules as we know them today. Not only did Notts County FC write history because of its old age, but also due to the fact that its former defender Ernest Greenhalgh played in the first international match ever of England’s national team (against Scotland). Furthermore, the team succeeded in reaching the finals of the FA Cup in 1891 for the first time in its history. They lost 3-1 against the Blackburn Rovers, although they had destroyed that very same team 7-1 before during a match of the regular season. 3 years later, Notts County FC managed to finally bring the FA Cup home after defeating the Bolton Wanderers 4-1. History was written once again, since it had never happened before that the FA Cup was won by a team that did not play in the highest league of the country.


Worksop Town FC (1861)

Worksop Town FC, known for the big tiger head on their emblem that has provided them with the nickname ‘the tigers’, is based in the small town of Worksop. Although the teams’ existence was first documented in 1873, it claims that it was founded in 1861. Apparently, there was enough evidence to prove this, since 1861 has officially been acknowledged as Worksop Town FC’s founding year. The team didn’t ever book any notable successes, though its 1907 – 1908 FA Cup tournament was a special one since it played Chelsea FC in what would nowadays be considered to be the third round. Granted, the tigers were no match for ‘the Blues’ and lost 9-1, the team did set a club record since this match drew an astonishing 70,184 people to the stadium – an attendance that hasn’t been seen ever since.


Cray Wanderers FC (1860)

The Cray Wanderers, nicknamed ‘the Wands’, come from London. The name refers to the former places St. Mary’s Cray and St. Paul’s Cray, which have both become part of the British capital, where the team was founded by workers constructing a rail road from London to Kent’s coastal areas. During its long history, successes were booked on a regional scale only. Not too long ago, in 2009, the Cray Wanderers founded a youth academy giving young players aged 16 to 18 a chance to train fulltime for their future sports career while enabling them to study at the same time. Some soccer players who have played for big teams used to play for the Cray Wanderers at some point, among them Tom Wilcox, who played for them at the beginning of the 20th century before transferring to Manchester United.


Hallam FC (1860)

This soccer team based in Sheffield is just slightly older than the Cray Wanderers. A detail in the history books about this team that immediately catches the eye is no doubt the fact that – according to the Guiness Book of Records – they play in the oldest stadium in the world. Although… Stadium? Perhaps we would do better speaking of ‘home grounds’, since it can only host 1000 people, 300 of which would get wet in the event it rains during a match. Then again, it kind of suits a team that has been nicknamed ‘the countrymen’. Another detail standing out in Halam’s long history, is the fact that in 1867, they won the first cup tournament ever held in soccer. The Youdan Cup, as the tournament’s prize was called, was named after soccer fanatic and theater owner Thomas Youdan, who had organized the event. Although Halam FC did win some prizes over time, they were never won on a high level.


Sheffield FC (1857)

The words ‘The world’s first football club’ are proudly embedded in Sheffield’s team emblem, emphasizing clearly which soccer team is the oldest of all. As if the logo itself is not enough, the team has been nicknamed ‘the Ancients’. Sheffield FC was founded on the 24th of October 1857 by Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest. At the time, there were no standardized rules for soccer which therefore were formulated by the team itself. These rules became known as the Sheffield rules. It would take almost two decades after its founding before Sheffield adopted the rules of the Football Association (FA). In 1860, the team played the second oldest team on the world (yes indeed, Halam FC!), a match that became known as ‘the Rules Derby’. Though the Ancients won the historical match (0-2), they never booked any really big successes. In 2004 however, Sheffield was one of the two teams awarded with the FIFA Order of Merit for its contribution to soccer. The other team who received this order was no one less than Spanish soccer superpower Real Madrid.


© 2015 Victor Brenntice


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      Getrude Hillary 

      3 years ago

      Quite elaborate. Great Hub.


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