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Ebenezer Morley, a London solicitor who formed Barnes FC in 1862, could be called the ‘father’ of The Association.He wasn’t a public school man but old boys from several public schools joined his club and there were ‘feverish’ disputes about the way the game should be played.The announcement of the birth of ‘The Football Association Challenge Cup’ ran to just 29 words: “That it is desirable that a Challenge Cup should be established in connection with the Association for which all clubs belonging to the Association should be invited to compete”. Charles Alcock, then 29, had been The FA’s secretary for just over a year when he had his vision of a national knockout tournament.He had remembered playing in an inter-house ‘sudden death’ competition during his schooldays at Harrow and his proposal was swiftly agreed.The clubs represented were: Barnes, War Office*, Crusaders, Forest (Leytonstone), No Names (Kilburn), Crystal Palace**, Blackheath, Kensington School, Perceval House (Blackheath), Surbiton, Blackheath Proprietory School and Charterhouse.*Civil Service FC, who now play in the Southern Amateur League’s Senior Division One, are the only surviving club of the eleven who signed up to be FA members at that first meeting in 1863, when they were listed as the War Office.
The laws originally drafted by Morley were finally approved at the sixth meeting, on 8 December, and there would be no hacking.They ran their own Cup competitions, inspired enthusiasm and provided the framework for hundreds of new teams. Some clubs in the north, enamoured with The FA Cup, saw nothing wrong in profit and success or in paying a man for doing his job.It led them away from the concept of amateurism, cherished by clubs in the south, and it forced The FA to formally legalise professionalism in 1885.A 4,000 crowd, including a good number of ladies, was present for a 0-0 draw that Bell’s Life saw as “one of the jolliest, one of the most spirited and most pleasant matches that have ever been played according to Association rules”.
County and District Associations, charged with fostering the game and organising clubs in their own areas, sprang into life all over the country between 18.
There could be no authority without laws and six meetings took place in 44 days before the new Association could stand on its own feet. ‘Football’, they thought, would be a blend of handling and dribbling.