The Rise of Association Football in Lancashire...

Barley Bank, Darwen

Though the introduction of Association football into Lancashire about the same period as the establishment of the Cup, the first of an innumerable succession of trophies of a similar kind, was a mere coincidence and in no way connected, it is curious, considering the conspicuous part Lancashire clubs have played in the competition of late years, that their origin should have been coeval The paternity of the Association game in Lancashire may be claimed by Mr. J. C. Kay, an old Harrovian, who subsequently made himself a reputation in another branch of sport, as a lawn tennis player of no small ability, as well as manager of perhaps the best organized lawn tennis meeting in the kingdom" that which takes place annually on the ground of the Liverpool Cricket Club. Educated at Harrow, it was only natural that the primitive game in use in Lancashire should have been based very much on the eccentric admixture of different codes to which young Harrow had been used for generation after generation. The introduction of the Association game into Lancashire was, in fact, in a very great measure the work of an old Harrovian, as, some twenty years before, the initiation of the movement which practically led to the revival of football on a proper basis was to a considerable extent the work of a few keen athletes who had graduated at his School. To East Lancashire, in particular, belongs the credit of fostering the game in its infancy, as well as of assisting in the development which has resulted in making Lancashire one of the most powerful influences in Association football Bolton, I believe, was the first place which took at all kindly to the new sport, and, under Mr. Kay's watchful eye, the Harrow game, or perhaps as near a reproduction as could be devised to suit local requirements, for a time supplied all the wants of the lads who were undergoing their novitiate in football. Practice took place in the evenings, and, in fact, the game was of a very primitive kind, followed after the hard work of the day had been completed.It was not long, though, before an attempt was made to evolve something like system out of the rough efforts of these pioneers of Lancashire football. The first result of this organization, I have reason to believe, was the Bolton Wanderers club, which has outlived the many, and some of them excellent, changes through which football has gone during the last quarter of a century, and still remains a power in the land; in fact, one of the most influential combinations of the same kind in the north of England.

CW Alcock Football: The Association Game (1906)

Spectators at Bury's Gigg Lane, 1887

Clubs Founded
Significant events
Lancashire based Internationals
Turton FC



Christ Church.

Darwen switch codes from Rugby.
Blackburn Rovers.
Athletic News first published.


Christ Church F.C becomes Bolton Wanderers .
Darwen and ‘Manchester’ first Lancashire clubs to enter FA Cup.

Blackburn Olympic.
Newton Heath LYR.
St Domingo's.
Preston North End switch codes from Rugby.
Foundation of Lancashire County FA.
 Scotsmen Fergus Suter and James Love join Darwen.

St Domingo's becomes Everton.
Darwen’s famous FA Cup match with Old Etonians.
Lancashire Senior Cup first contested.

St Mark's
Darwen win first Lancashire Senior Cup.
Thomas Brindle,  Thomas Marshall (Darwen)
Fred Hargreaves (Blackburn Rovers)
All England
Southport Central
Darwen reach FA Cup semi final.
Major William Sudell becomes manager of Preston North End.
Blackburn hosts  England v Wales international.

Thurston Rostron (Darwen)
Jack Hargreaves , James Brown (Blackburn Rovers)
All England
Blackburn Rovers reach the FA Cup final.
Doctor Greenwood, Fred Hargreaves, James Brown(Blackburn Rovers)
All England
Blackburn Olympic win FA Cup
William Sudell  visits Scotland to recruit players for Preston North End
Alfred Jones (Great Lever) England
St Mark's become Gorton.
Blackburn Rovers win FA Cup.
Scotsmen Nick Ross, George Drummond, David Russell and Jack Gordon join Preston North End.
Preston North End v Upton Park exposes professionalism.
Preston North End, Accrington disqualified from FA Cup for professionalism.
The British Football Association formed- more than 30 of the 37 clubs involved were from Lancashire.
Joseph Beverley, Jimmy Forrest (Blackburn Rovers) England
John Powell, John Vaughan (Bolton Wanderers) Wales
Blackburn Rovers win FA Cup.
Bolton Wanderers disqualified from FA Cup for professionalism.
Professionalism legalised in England.

England- 7


Blackburn Rovers win FA Cup
England- 5
Gorton become Ardwick
Athletic News Football Annual first produced.
England- 6 Wales- 6

Foundation of Football League- 6 of the 12 clubs are from Lancashire (see below)
England- 5 Wales- 9

Preston North End win the Double.
Foundation of Lancashire League.
England- 8 Wales- 7

Preston North End League Champions again.
England- 9 Wales - 6