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Football Association

Football Association

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In 1863 Ebenezer Cobb Morley the founder and captain of Barnes Football Club wrote a letter to Bell's Life newspaper proposing a governing body for football. This letter resulted in a meeting taking place at the Freeman's Tavern in London in October, 1863. The clubs represented at the meeting included Barnes, Blackheath, Perceval House, Kensington School, the War Office, Crystal Palace, Forest (later known as the Wanderers), the Crusaders and No Names of Kilburn. Charterhouse also sent an observer to the meeting.

The Football Association was established at this meeting. The aim of the FA was to establish a single unifying code for football. As Percy Young, has pointed out, that the FA was a group of men from the upper echelons of British society: "Men of prejudice, seeing themselves as patricians, heirs to the doctrine of leadership and so law-givers by at least semi-divine right."

Ebenezer Cobb Morley was elected as the secretary of the Football Association. At a meeting on 24th November, 1863, Morley presented a draft set of 23 rules. These were based on an amalgamation of rules played by public schools, universities and football clubs. This included provision for running with the ball in the hands if a catch had been taken "on the full" or on the first bounce. Players were allowed to "hack the front of the leg" of the opponent when they were running with the ball. Two of the proposed rules caused heated debate:

IX. A player shall be entitled to run with the ball towards his adversaries' goal if he makes a fair catch, or catches the ball on the first bound; but in case of a fair catch, if he makes his mark (to take a free kick) he shall not run.

X. If any player shall run with the ball towards his adversaries' goal, any player on the opposite side shall be at liberty to charge, hold, trip or hack him, or to wrest the ball from him, but no player shall be held and hacked at the same time.

Some members objected to these two rules as they considered them to be "uncivilised". Others believed that charging, hacking and tripping were important ingredients of the game. One supporter of hacking argued that without it "you will do away with the courage and pluck of the game, and it will be bound to bring over a lot of Frenchmen who would beat you with a week's practice." The main defender of hacking was F. W. Campbell, the representative from Blackheath, who considered this aspect of the game was vital in developing "masculine toughness". Campbell added that "hacking is the true football" and he resigned from the FA when the vote went against him (13-4). He later helped to form the rival Rugby Football Union. On 8th December, 1863, the FA published the Laws of Football.

1. The maximum length of the ground shall be 200 yards, the maximum breadth shall be 100 yards, the length and breadth shall be marked off with flags; and the goal shall be defined by two upright posts, eight yards apart, without any tape or bar across them.

2. A toss for goals shall take place, and the game shall be commenced by a place kick from the centre of the ground by the side losing the toss for goals; the other side shall not approach within 10 yards of the ball until it is kicked off.

3. After a goal is won, the losing side shall be entitled to kick off, and the two sides shall change goals after each goal is won.

4. A goal shall be won when the ball passes between the goal-posts or over the space between the goal-posts (at whatever height), not being thrown, knocked on, or carried.

5. When the ball is in touch, the first player who touches it shall throw it from the point on the boundary line where it left the ground in a direction at right angles with the boundary line, and the ball shall not be in play until it has touched the ground.

6. When a player has kicked the ball, any one of the same side who is nearer to the opponent's goal line is out of play, and may not touch the ball himself, nor in any way whatever prevent any other player from doing so, until he is in play; but no player is out of play when the ball is kicked off from behind the goal line.

7. In case the ball goes behind the goal line, if a player on the side to whom the goal belongs first touches the ball, one of his side shall he entitled to a free kick from the goal line at the point opposite the place where the ball shall be touched. If a player of the opposite side first touches the ball, one of his side shall be entitled to a free kick at the goal only from a point 15 yards outside the goal line, opposite the place where the ball is touched, the opposing side standing within their goal line until he has had his kick.

8. If a player makes a fair catch, he shall be entitled to a free kick, providing he claims it by making a mark with his heel at once; and in order to take such kick he may go back as far as he pleases, and no player on the opposite side shall advance beyond his mark until he has kicked.

9. No player shall run with the ball.

10. Neither tripping nor hacking shall be allowed, and no player shall use his hands to hold or push his adversary.

11. A player shall not be allowed to throw the ball or pass it to another with his hands.

12. No player shall be allowed to take the ball from the ground with his hands under any pretence whatever while it is in play.

13. No player shall be allowed to wear projecting nails, iron plates, or gutta-percha on the soles or heels of his boots.

In 1871, Charles W. Alcock, the FA Secretary, announced the introduction of the Football Association Challenge Cup. It was the first knockout competition of its type in the world. Only 15 clubs took part in the first staging of the tournament. It included two clubs based in Scotland, Donington School and Queen's Park. In the 1872 final, the Wanderers beat the Royal Engineers 1-0 at the Kennington Oval.

The early 1870s saw changes to FA rules. In 1871 hacking was abolished. Outfield players were also stopped from touching the ball with their hands. This encouraged footballers to develop their heading skills. This in itself changed tactics with and increasing number of clubs employing wingers who were good at crossing the ball to a centre forward who was good in the air.

1871 also saw the introduction of umpires and a neutral referee. Both sides were allowed to appoint an umpire to whom players could appeal to about incidents that took place on the pitch. However, the FA rule now stated: "Any point on which the umpires cannot agree shall be decided by the referee".

The FA Cup helped to popularize the game of football. Up until this competition only fifty clubs were members of the Football Association and played by their rules. This included teams who played as far away as Lincoln, Oxford and York. The main rival to the FA was the 26-member Sheffield Association. Other football clubs were totally independent and played by their own set of rules. In 1877 the clubs in Sheffield decided to join the FA and by 1881 its membership had risen to 128.

The FA continued to adapt the rules of the game. In 1882 all clubs had to provide crossbars. Ten years later goal nets became compulsory. This reduced the number of disputes as to whether the ball had crossed the goal-line or passed between the posts.

Charles W. Alcock, the Secretary of the Football Association, was the dominant figure in the early days of the game. As he pointed out: "What was ten or fifteen years ago the recreation of a few has now become the pursuit of thousands. An athletic exercise carried on under a strict system and in many cases by an enforced term of training, almost magnified into a profession."

In January, 1884, Preston North End played the London side, Upton Park, in the FA Cup. After the game Upton Park complained to the Football Association that Preston was a professional, rather than an amateur team. Sudell admitted that his players were being paid but argued that this was common practice and did not breach regulations. However, the FA disagreed and expelled them from the competition.

Major William Sudell, the secretary/manager of Preston North End admitted that he had improved the quality of the team by importing top players from other areas. This included several players from Scotland. As well as paying them money for playing for the team, Sudell also found them highly paid work in Preston.

Preston North End now joined forces with other clubs who were paying their players, such as Aston Villa and Sunderland. In October, 1884, these clubs threatened to form a break-away British Football Association. The Football Association responded by establishing a sub-committee, which included William Sudell, to look into this issue. On 20th July, 1885, the FA announced that it was "in the interests of Association Football, to legalise the employment of professional football players, but only under certain restrictions". Clubs were allowed to pay players provided that they had either been born or had lived for two years within a six-mile radius of the ground.

This decision increased club's wage bills. It was therefore necessary to arrange more matches that could be played in front of large crowds. In March, 1888, William McGregor, a director of Aston Villa, circulated a letter suggesting that "ten or twelve of the most prominent clubs in England combine to arrange home and away fixtures each season." The following month the Football League was formed. It consisted of six clubs from Lancashire (Preston North End, Accrington, Blackburn Rovers, Burnley and Everton) and six from the Midlands (Aston Villa, Derby County, Notts County, Stoke, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers). The main reason Sunderland was excluded was because the other clubs in the league objected to the costs of travelling to the North-East.

The first season of the Football League began in September, 1888. Preston North End won the first championship without losing a single match and acquired the name the "invincibles". Major William Sudell, had persuaded some of the best players in England, Scotland and Wales to join Preston: John Goodall, Jimmy Ross, David Russell, John Gordon, John Graham, Robert Mills-Roberts, James Trainer, Samuel Thompson and George Drummond. He also recruited some outstanding local players, including Bob Holmes, Robert Howarth and Fred Dewhurst. As well as paying them money for playing for the team, Sudell also found them highly paid work in Preston.

Preston North End also beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0 to win the 1889 FA Cup Final. Preston won the competition without conceding a single goal. The club also won the league the following season. However, other teams began to employ the same tactics. Clubs like Derby County, Everton, Sunderland, Aston Villa, and Wolverhampton Wanderers had more money at their disposal and could pay higher wages than Preston. Over the next couple of years Preston lost all their best players and they were never to win the league title again.

In May 1900 the Football Association passed a rule at its AGM that set the maximum wage of professional footballers playing in the Football League at £4 a week. It also abolished the paying of all bonuses to players.

The Association Footballers' Union (AFU) complained about this decision. However, the AFU was badly wounded by the decision of several members of the committee to seek higher wages in the Southern League. This included the AFU secretary John Cameron, who joined Tottenham Hotspur. Tom Bradshaw also joined him at the club. Other leading figures in the union who left the Football League included Harry Wood and Abe Hartley (Southampton), Johnny Holt (Reading), and Jack Bell and David Storrier who joined Celtic.

In the 1903-04 season Manchester City finished in second place in the First Division. They also won the FA Cup in 1904 when they beat Bolton Wanderers in the final at Crystal Palace. The only goal of the game was scored by the great Billy Meredith.

The Football Association was amazed by Manchester City's rapid improvement and that summer they decided to carry out an investigation into the way the club was being run. However, the officials only discovered some minor irregularities and no case was brought against the club.

The following season Manchester City again challenged for the championship. City needed to beat Aston Villa on the final day of the season. Sandy Turnbull gave Alec Leake, the Villa captain, a torrid time during the game. Leake threw some mud at him and he responded with a two-fingered gesture. Leake then punched Turnbull. According to some journalists, at the end of the game, Turnbull was dragged into the Villa dressing-room and beaten-up. Villa won the game 3-1 and Manchester City finished third, two points behind Newcastle United.

After the game Alec Leake claimed that Billy Meredith had offered him £10 to throw the game. Meredith was found guilty of this offence by the Football Association and was fined and suspended from playing football for a year. Manchester City refused to provide financial help for Meredith and so he decided to go public about what really was going on at the club: "What was the secret of the success of the Manchester City team? In my opinion, the fact that the club put aside the rule that no player should receive more than four pounds a week... The team delivered the goods, the club paid for the goods delivered and both sides were satisfied."

The Football Association was now forced to carry out another investigation into the financial activities of Manchester City. They discovered that City had been making additional payments to all their players. Tom Maley was suspended from football for life. Seventeen players were fined and suspended until January 1907.

The Football Association also established the FA Amateur Cup in 1893, but in 1907 the amateurs decided to break away to form their own Amateur Football Association (AFA).

The FA joined the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in 1905 but resigned in 1920 over the participation of those countries that fought against Britain in the First World War.

The Football Association came under pressure from the government to accept women's football during the war. David Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, encouraged these games as it helped reinforce the image of women doing the jobs normally done by men now needed to fight on the Western Front. This was especially important after the introduction of conscription in 1916. These matches also helped to raise money for wartime charities.

Attitudes changed after the war. David J. Williamson argued in Belles of the Ball (1991): "Nor surprisingly, it was extremely difficult for many men to accept the idea of ladies playing what had always been regarded as a male preserve, their sport. Those who had been away at the front during the Great War would have had no real idea as to how the country was changing in their absence; how the role of their womenfolk within society was beginning to change quite dramatically, responding to the opportunity they had been given."

Women's football games were extremely popular. For example, a game between Dick Kerr Ladies and Newcastle United Ladies played at St. James's Park, in September, 1919, attracted a crowd of 35,000 people and raised £1,200 (£250,000) for local war charities.

These charity games continued. On 26th December, 1920, Dick Kerr Ladies played the second best women's team in England, St Helens Ladies, at Goodison Park, the home ground of Everton. The plan was to raise money for the Unemployed Ex Servicemens Distress Fund in Liverpool. Over 53,000 people watched the game with an estimated 14,000 disappointed fans locked outside. It was the largest crowd that had ever watched a woman's game in England. The game at Goodison Park raised £3,115 (£623,000 in today's money) for ex-servicemen.

However, on 5th December 1921, the Football Association issued the following statement:

Complaints having been made as to football being played by women, the Council feel impelled to express their strong opinion that the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged.

Complaints have been made as to the conditions under which some of these matches have been arranged and played, and the appropriation of the receipts to other than Charitable objects.

The Council are further of the opinion that an excessive proportion of the receipts are absorbed in expenses and an inadequate percentage devoted to Charitable objects.

For these reasons the Council requests the clubs belonging to the Association refuse the use of their grounds for such matches.

This measure removed the ability of women to raise significant sums of money for charity as they were now barred from playing at all the major venues. The Football Association also announced that members were not allowed to referee or act as linesman at any women's football match.

This action virtually destroyed women's football in Britain. The number of women's teams declined dramatically and although the most famous of these, Dick Kerr Ladies, survived, they found it increasingly difficult to find opponents to play against.

The FA rejoined FIFA in 1924 but resigned again in 1928 over the definition of amateur status in the Olympic Games.

In 1930 the Football Association rejected the idea of taking part in the first World Cup. They also failed to take part in 1934 and 1938.

Stanley Rous became secretary of the Football Association and after the Second World War he made it clear that he was willing to embrace international football. In 1946 the FA rejoined the FIFA and took part in the 1950 World Cup. In 1954 the FA became a founder member of the European governing body UEFA.

American Professional Football Association

The American Professional Football Association was the name of the predecessor of the National Football League.

In the first two decades of the twentieth century, American football became an increasingly popular sport. Because people enjoyed watching the sport, private businesses or individual communities began to sponsor professional teams of men who were paid to play football. These Professional teams became a source of pride for the businesses and towns.

Because of the lack of local male athletes caused by World War I, teams began to recruit players outside of their own state. This led professional football teams to feel the need for a multi-state or national organization to regulate this recruitment.

The first major attempt to unify the various professional football teams occurred in 1920, with the formation of the American Professional Football Association (originally known as the American Professional Football Conference). The league was founded in Canton, Ohio five of the first teams were from the state. The league's original teams included the Canton Bulldogs, the Cleveland Tigers, the Dayton Triangles, the Akron Professionals, the Rochester (NY) Jeffersons, the Rock Island (IL) Independents, the Muncie (IN) Flyers, the Decatur (IL) Staleys, the Chicago (IL) Cardinals, the Buffalo (NY) All-Americans, the Chicago (IL) Tigers, the Columbus Panhandles, the Detroit (MI) Heralds, and the Hammond (IN) Pros. The season consisted of eleven games with a declared end-of-the-season winner: the first champion was the Akron Professionals. Between 1920 and 1922 the name of the organization changed frequently. In 1922, the organization became the National Football League, the name that is still in use.

The American Professional Football Association's first president was Jim Thorpe. He played and coached for the Canton Bulldogs during the 1910s. Under Thorpe's leadership, the Bulldogs were the unofficial world champions in 1916, 1917, and 1919. His contributions to the game led him to become the highest paid player in the league during its early years. Thorpe retired as a player from professional football in 1928. At that time, he played for the Chicago Cardinals. In the league's early decades, there was a tremendous turnover of teams. Numerous communities tried to sponsor teams, but quickly realized that they could not cover the expenses. Teams also commonly moved, lured away by other communities that offered a more lucrative financial deal. During the league's history, numerous teams were based in Ohio. Some of these teams, and their dates of existence, are:

Canton Bulldogs (1920-1923) (1926-1926)

Cleveland Tigers (1920-1921)

Akron Professionals (1920-1926)

Dayton Triangles (1920-1929)

Columbus Panhandles (1920-1922)

Cincinnati Celts (1921-1921)

Marion Oorang Indians (1922-1923)

Columbus Tigers (1923-1924) (1926-1926)

Cleveland Indians (1923-1923) (1931-1931)

Cleveland Bulldogs (1924-1925) (1927-1927)

Portsmouth Spartans (1930-1934)

Cleveland Browns (1949-1996) (1999-present)

Cincinnati Bengals (1968-present)

Because of Ohio's prominent role in professional football, the National Football Hall of Fame is located in Canton, Ohio, where the league began in 1920.

Semipro Football History Articles
By Steven M. Brainerd, AFA Historian

AFA Origins

The American Football Association (AFA) is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the advancement and promotion of semi-pro/minor league football teams and leagues in the United States.

The AFA was founded in 1980 by Ronald J. Real under the name Minor Professional Football Association (MPFA). It's main function was to conduct an annual post-season championship tournament for teams calling themselves minor league.

In the first year, five leagues joined the national association and sent their league champions to play in the first national play-off series ever conducted on this level of football. With eight teams making the play-offs (five league champions and three wild cards) there was a great interest renewed in the term "Minor League Football".

Thinking his new national Association would develop along the lines of minor league baseball, ice hockey, and basketball, Real worked diligently to make people aware of the national association.

First All-Star Game

In January of 1981, Mr Real masterminded a plan to put the top 100 minor league football players (All-Star Team East vs West) together in one place. The purpose of this was to showcase these players' talents to the NFL scouts and coaches. Realizing it would be difficult to get the NFL to come to him, Real took his all-stars to the NFL. The national association held its first "All-Star" game in New Orleans the day before the NFL's Super Bowl XV in that same city.

Minor League as NFL Farm System

From 1980 through 1985, Real sponsored the national play-offs almost single handily. Each year he hoped that the NFL executives would be impressed enough with his advancements to get involved with promoting Minor League Football. Shortly after the 1985 national championship game in Syracuse, New York, Real realized that the level of football he was dealing with was not on the same organizational level (financially) as the "minor league farm systems" for other sports. Basically, it lacked the support and involvement of its major league counterpart and the player's skills were truly not that of NFL potential. With his dream of developing a true minor league system for football shattered (because the NFL had very stringent rules against any affiliation or subsidization of minor league or semi-pro teams), Real decided to adjust his goals rather than admit defeat. "I was trying to force feed the words Minor League on a news media that just wouldn't buy the fact that there was a need for developing young football players for the pro's", said the AFA president. "College football is thought to be the only farm system that the NFL needs. Just wait until the new rules of Proposition 48 effects the eligibility of thousands of football players across the country. What's going to happen when these athletes can't even get into a college? That's when we'll see some action taken by professional teams to get a better look at some of the young minor league football talent." In 1986, the MPFA board of directors decided that if the national association was to succeed it would have to concern itself with providing services to the hundreds of semi-pro type teams around the country as opposed to working only with the handful of teams that called themselves minor league. With that in mind, the board of directors changed the name of the national association from the Minor Professional Football Association to the American Football Association(AFA). This name change did several things first it allowed the national association to work with all levels of non-professional football secondly, it keeps the door open for the day when the major league football teams decide to support a "development league" (minor league farm system) and third, if associates itself with American rules football which is spreading through Europe at a rapid pace.

THE COFFIN CORNER: Vol. 16, No. 1 (1994)
The First Thirteen Years - click here.

THE COFFIN CORNER: Vol. 13, No. 3 (1991)
Starting at the Bottom - Hundreds of Minor League Players Made it to the NFL - click here.


Early women's football Edit

Women may have been playing football for as long as the game has existed. Evidence shows that a similar game (cuju) was played by women during the Han Dynasty (25–220 CE). Two female figures are depicted in Han Dynasty frescoes, playing Tsu Chu. [9] There are, however, a number of opinions about the accuracy of dates, the earliest estimates at 5000 BCE. [10] Reports of an annual match being played in Scotland are reported as early as the 1790s. [11] [12] The first match recorded by the Scottish Football Association took place in 1892 in Glasgow. In England, the first recorded game of football between women took place in 1895. [13] [14]

The modern game of "football" has documented early involvement of women. In Europe, it is possible that 12th-century French women played football as part of that era's folk games. An annual competition in Mid-Lothian, Scotland during the 1790s is reported, too. [11] [12] In 1863, football governing bodies introduced standardized rules to prohibit violence on the pitch, making it more socially acceptable for women to play. [13]

The most well-documented early European team was founded by activist Nettie Honeyball in England in 1894. It was named the British Ladies' Football Club. Honeyball and those like her paved the way for women's football. However the women's game was frowned upon by the British football associations, and continued without their support. It has been suggested that this was motivated by a perceived threat to the 'masculinity' of the game. [15]

Women's football became popular on a large scale at the time of the First World War, when employment in heavy industry spurred the growth of the game, much as it had done for men fifty years earlier. A team from England played a team from Ireland on Boxing Day 1917 in front of a crowd of 20,000 spectators. [16] The most successful team of the era was Dick, Kerr's Ladies of Preston, England. The team played in the first women's international matches in 1920, against a team from Paris, France, in April, and also made up most of the England team against a Scottish Ladies XI in 1920, winning 22–0. [11]

FA Ban (1921–1971) Edit

Despite being more popular than some men's football events (one match saw a 53,000 strong crowd), [17] women's football in England was halted in 1921 when The Football Association outlawed the playing of the game on Association members' pitches, on the grounds stating that "the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged." [18] [19]

Some [ who? ] speculated that this may have also been due to envy of the large crowds that women's matches attracted. [20] Despite the ban, some women's teams continued to play. The English Ladies Football Association was formed and play moved to rugby grounds. [21]

The ban was maintained by the FA for fifty years until 1971. The same year, UEFA recommended that the national associations in each country should manage the women's game. [22] It was not until 2008 (87 years later), that the FA issued an apology for banning women from the game of football. [23] [24] Six years prior in 2002, Lily Parr of Dick Kerr's Ladies FC, was the first woman to be inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame. She was later honoured with a statue in front of the museum. [25]

Competitions Edit

In August 1917, a tournament was launched for female munition workers' teams in northeast England. Officially titled the "Tyne Wear & Tees Alfred Wood Munition Girls Cup", it was popularly known as "The Munitionettes' Cup". [26] The first winners of the trophy were Blyth Spartans, who defeated Bolckow Vaughan 5–0 in a replayed final tie at Middlesbrough on 18 May 1918 in front of a crowd of 22,000. [27] The tournament ran for a second year in season 1918–19, the winners being the ladies of Palmer's shipyard in Jarrow, who defeated Christopher Brown's of Hartlepool 1–0 at St James' Park in Newcastle on 22 March 1919. [28]

The English Ladies' Football Association Challenge Cup

Following the FA ban on women's teams on 5 December 1921, the English Ladies' Football Association was formed. [29] [30] A silver cup was donated by the first president of the association, Len Bridgett. A total of 24 teams entered the first competition in the spring of 1922. The winners were Stoke Ladies who beat Doncaster and Bentley Ladies 3–1 on 24 June 1922. [31]

The Championship of Great Britain and the World

In 1937 and 1938, the Dick, Kerr's Ladies F.C. played the 'Edinburgh City Girls' in the "Championship of Great Britain and the World". Dick Kerr won the 1937 and 38 competitions with 5–1 score lines. The 1939 competition however was a more organised affair and the Edinburgh City Girls beat Dick Kerr in Edinburgh 5–2. The City Girls followed this up with a 7–1 demolition of Glasgow Ladies Ladies in Falkirk to take the title. [32]

The 'revival' of the women's game Edit

The English Women's FA was formed in 1969 (as a result of the increased interest generated by the 1966 World Cup), [33] and the FA's ban on matches being played on members' grounds was finally lifted in 1971. [13] In the same year, UEFA recommended that the women's game should be taken under the control of the national associations in each country. [33]

Ladies World Championships, 1970 and 1971 Edit

In 1970 an Italian ladies football federation, known as Federazione Femminile Italiana Giuoco Calcio or FFIGC, ran a "World Championships" tournament in Rome supported by the Martini and Rossi strong wine manufacturers, entirely without the involvement of FIFA or any of the common National associations. [34] This event was at least partly played by clubs. [35] But a somewhat more successful World Championships with national teams was hosted by Mexico the following year. The final (won by Denmark) was played at the famous Estadio Azteca, the largest arena in the entire Americas north of the Panama Canal at the time, in front of no less than 112.500 attenders. [36]

On 17 April 1971, in the French town of Hazebrouck, the first official women's international football match was played between France and the Netherlands. [37]

Professionalism Edit

During the 1970s, Italy became the first country to introduce professional women's football players, on a part-time basis. Italy was also the first country to import foreign footballers from other Europeans countries, which raised the profile of the league. The most prominent players during that era included Susanne Augustesen (Denmark), Rose Reilly and Edna Neillis (Scotland), Anne O'Brien (Ireland) and Concepcion Sánchez Freire (Spain). [38]

Asia and Oceania Edit

In 1989, Japan became the first country to have a semi-professional women's football league, the L. League – still in existence today as Division 1 of the Nadeshiko League. [39] [40]

In Australia, the W-League was formed in 2008. [41]

In 2015, the Chinese Women's Super League (CWSL) was launched with an affiliated second division, CWFL. [42] Previously, The Chinese Women's Premier Football League was initiated in 1997 and evolved to the Women's Super League in 2004. From 2011 to 2014, the league was named the Women's National Football League.

The Indian Women's League was launched in 2016. The country has held the top-tier tournament, Indian Women's Football Championship, since 1991. [43]

North America Edit

In 1985, the United States national soccer team was formed. [44] Following the success of the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup, the first professional women's soccer league in the United States, the WUSA, was launched, and lasted three years. The league was spearheaded by members of the World Cup-winning American team and featured players like Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain [45] as well as top-tier international players like Germany's Birgit Prinz and China's Sun Wen. [46] A second attempt towards a sustainable professional league, the Women's Professional Soccer (WPS), was launched in 2009 and folded in late 2011. [47] The following year, the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) was launched with initial support from the United States, Canadian, and Mexico federations. [48] The current 2021 season is its ninth.

In 2017, Liga MX Femenil was launched in Mexico and broke several attendance records. The league is composed of women's teams for the men's counterpart teams in Liga MX. [49]

21st century Edit

At the beginning of the 21st century, women's football, like men's football, is growing in both popularity and participation [50] as well as more professional leagues worldwide. [51] From the inaugural FIFA Women's World Cup tournament held in 1991 [52] to the 1,194,221 tickets sold for the 1999 Women's World Cup [53] visibility and support of women's professional football has increased around the globe. [54]

However, as in numerous other sports, women's pay and opportunities are much lower in comparison with professional male football players. [55] [56] Major league and international women's football have far less television and media coverage than the men's equivalent. [57] Games can be regarded as being an ordeal to be "endured rather than enjoyed. more out of duty than expectation". [58] The popularity and participation in women's football continues to grow. [59] While several features continue to improve, this is not the case for female coaches. They continue to be underrepresented in several European women's leagues. [60]

The growth in women's football has seen major competitions being launched at both the national and international levels.

Women's World Cup Edit

Prior to the 1991 establishment of the FIFA Women's World Cup, several unofficial world tournaments took place in the 1970s and 1980s, [61] including the FIFA's Women's Invitation Tournament 1988, which was hosted in China. [62]

The first Women's World Cup was held in the People's Republic of China, in November 1991, and was won by the United States (USWNT). The third Cup, held in the United States in June and July 1999, drew worldwide television interest and a final in front of a record-setting 90,000+ Pasadena crowd, where the United States won 5–4 on penalty kicks against China. [63] [64] The US are the reigning champions, having won in Canada in 2015, and in France, in 2019.

Olympics Edit

Since 1996, a Women's Football Tournament has been staged at the Olympic Games. Unlike in the men's Olympic Football tournament (based on teams of mostly under-23 players), the Olympic women's teams do not have restrictions due to professionalism or age.

England and other British Home Nations are not eligible to compete as separate entities because the International Olympic Committee does not recognise their FIFA status as separate teams in competitions. The participation of UK men's and women's sides at the 2012 Olympic tournament was a bone of contention between the four national associations in the UK from 2005, when the Games were awarded to London, to 2009. England was strongly in favour of unified UK teams, while Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland were opposed, fearing adverse consequences for the independent status of the Home Nations within FIFA. At one stage it was reported that England alone would field teams under the UK banner (officially "Great Britain") for the 2012 Games. [65] However, both the men's and women's Great Britain teams eventually fielded some players from the other home nations. (See Football at the 2012 Summer Olympics – Women's tournament)

UEFA Women's Championship Edit

What is now known worldwide as the UEFA Women's Championship (or Women's Euro) was initially launched in 1982 under the name European Competition For Representative Women's Teams and recognized by UEFA as an official tournament. Previously, European women's tournaments featuring national teams were held in Italy in 1969 [66] and 1979, [67] but were not recognized as "official" due to the FA Ban.

The 1984 Finals was won by Sweden. Norway won, in the 1987 Finals. Since then, the UEFA Women's Championship has been dominated by Germany, which has won eight out of the 10 events to date. The only other teams to win are Norway, which won in 1993, and the reigning champions, the Netherlands, which won at home in 2017.

Copa Libertadores Femenina Edit

Copa Libertadores Femenina (Women's Liberators Cup), formally known as CONMEBOL Libertadores Femenina, is the international women's football club competition for teams that play in CONMEBOL nations. The competition started in the 2009 season in response to the increased interest in women's football. It is the only CONMEBOL club competition for women. [68]

England Edit

Football Association Women's Challenge Cup (FA Women's Cup) Edit

After the lifting of The FA ban, the now defunct Women's Football Association held its first national knockout cup in 1970–71. It was called the Mitre Trophy which became the FA Women's Cup in 1993. Southampton WFC was the inaugural winner. From 1983 to 1994 Doncaster Belles reached ten out of 11 finals, winning six of them. Chelsea are the current holders and Arsenal are the most successful club with a record 14 wins. [69] Despite tournament sponsorship by major companies, entering the cup actually costs clubs more than they get in prize money. In 2015 it was reported that even if Notts County had won the tournament outright the £8,600 winnings would leave them out of pocket. [70] The winners of the men's FA Cup in the same year received £1.8 million, with teams not even reaching the first round proper getting more than the women's winners. [71]

In 2002, FIFA inaugurated a women's youth championship, officially called the FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship. The first event was hosted by Canada. The final was an all-CONCACAF affair, with the USA defeating the host Canadians 1–0 with an extra-time golden goal. The second event was held in Thailand in 2004 and won by Germany. The age limit was raised to 20, starting with the 2006 event held in Russia. Demonstrating the increasing global reach of the women's game, the winners of this event were North Korea. The tournament was renamed the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, effective with the 2008 edition won by the US in Chile. The current champions are Japan, who won in France in 2018. [72]

In 2008, FIFA instituted an under-17 world championship. The inaugural event, held in New Zealand, was won by North Korea. The current champions at this level are Spain, who won in Uruguay in 2018. [73]

United States Edit

In the United States, the intercollegiate sport began from physical education programs that helped establish organized teams. After sixty years of trying to gain social acceptance women's football was introduced to the college level. In the late 1970s, women's club teams started to appear on college campus, but it wasn't until the 1980s that they started to gain recognition and gained a varsity status. Brown University was the first college to grant full varsity level status to their women's soccer team. The Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) sponsored the first regional women's soccer tournament at college in the US, which was held at Brown University. The first national level tournament was held at Colorado College, which gained official AIAW sponsorship in 1981. The 1990s saw greater participation mainly due to the Title IX of 23 June 1972, which increased school's budgets and their addition of women's scholarships.

"Currently there are over 700 intercollegiate women's soccer teams playing for many types and sizes of colleges and universities. This includes colleges and universities that are members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA)."

Sexist comments and decision-making Edit

The majority of footballers around the globe wear a traditional kit made up of a jersey, shorts, cleats and knee-length socks worn over shin guards. In 2004, FIFA President Sepp Blatter suggested that women footballers should "wear tighter shorts and low cut shirts. to create a more female aesthetic" and attract more male fans. His comment was criticized as sexist by numerous people involved with women's football and several media outlets worldwide. [74] [75] [76]

In September 2008, FC de Rakt women's team (FC de Rakt DA1) in the Netherlands made international headlines by swapping its old kit for a new one featuring short skirts and tight-fitting shirts. [77] This innovation, which had been requested by the team itself, was initially vetoed by the Royal Dutch Football Association on the grounds that according to the rules of the game shorts must be worn by all players, both male and female but this decision was reversed when it was revealed that the FC de Rakt team were wearing hot pants under their skirts, and were therefore technically in compliance. Denying that the kit change was merely a publicity stunt, club chairman Jan van den Elzen told Reuters:

The girls asked us if they could make a team and asked specifically to play in skirts. We said we'd try but we didn't expect to get permission for that. We've seen reactions from Belgium and Germany already saying this could be something for them. Many girls would like to play in skirts but didn't think it was possible.

21-year-old team captain Rinske Temming said:

We think they are far more elegant than the traditional shorts and furthermore they are more comfortable because the shorts are made for men. It's more about being elegant, not sexy. Female football is not so popular at the moment. In the Netherlands there's an image that it's more for men, but we hope that can change.

Also in June 2011, Russian UEFA Women's Champions League contenders WFC Rossiyanka announced a plan to play in bikinis in a bid to boost attendances. [78]

Wearing of Hijabs Edit

In June 2011, Iran forfeited an Olympic qualification match in Jordan, after trying to take to the field in hijabs and full body suits. FIFA awarded a default 3–0 win to Jordan, explaining that the Iranian kits were "an infringement of the Laws of the Game", due to safety concerns. [79] The decision provoked strong criticism from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [80] while Iranian officials alleged that the actions of the Bahraini match delegate had been politically motivated. [81] In July 2012, FIFA approved the wearing of hijab in future matches. [82]


The Ghana Football Association (GFA) is the successor to the Gold Coast Football Association, which used to be the governing body for football in Ghana and was one of the oldest football associations in Africa, having been founded in 1920.

Cape Coast and Accra were the first colonial cities in sub-Saharan Africa to host formal leagues in the Gold Coast.

After a weak start in 1915, the league kicked off in 1922 with the Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club emerging as winners, taking the coveted Guggisberg shield – named after the progressive British governor of that period and the man who started the Accra Football League, Sir Gordon Guggisberg.

Amateur status

Football was brought to the Gold Coast near the end of the 19th century by merchants from Europe, who had by then conquered the coastal areas and built forts and castles to facilitate trade.

In their leisure time, the sailors would play football among themselves and with the indigenous people.

The popularity of the game spread quickly along the coast, culminating in the formation of the first football club, Excelsior, in 1903 by Mr. Briton, a Jamaican-born British citizen who was the then Head Teacher of Philip Quaque Government Boys School in Cape Coast.

As the popularity of the game grew, other amateur clubs were formed along the coast, including: Accra Hearts of Oak, Accra Standfast, Cape Coast Venomous Vipers, Cape Coast Mysterious Dwarfs, Sekondi Hasaacas, and Sekondi Eleven Wise.

The Gold Coast Amateur Football Association

In 1952, the Government of the Gold Coast enacted Ordinance 14, which established the Gold Coast Amateur Sports Council, and granted the Government of the Gold Coast the legal authority to control all amateur Associations, including Football.

As the popularity of the game spread throughout the country, the existing clubs met towards the end of 1930 and elected Richard Maabuo Akwei as their Chairman.

Towards the middle of 1950, the clubs, spearheaded by Ohene Djan, accused Akwei of maladministration and questioned his ability to help grow Ghanaian Football.

They therefore addressed petitions to the Governor of the Gold Coast, Sir Charles Arden-Clarke, and the Pioneer Sports Organizer, Joseph Ranadurai, on the maladministration of the Amateur Football Association by Akwei.

While the petition was being addressed, Ohene Djan led a “Football Revolution" and succeeded in toppling the Akwei Administration in 1957.

The Football Revolution – 1957

In 1957, Ohene Djan was elected General Secretary of the Football Association by the clubs and the Ghana Amateur Football Association was officially founded.

He strategically affiliated the Association with FIFA in 1958 and the CAF in 1960.

Djan was instrumental in securing sponsorship for the first Ghanaian FA cup competition from a pharmaceutical firm, Merrs R.R. Harding and Company.

In the same year he succeeded in securing the services of an expatriate Coach, George Ainsley, for the National Team.

Then in 1959, he succeeded again in organizing the first national league, before Ghana became a republic on 1 July 1960.

The Winneba Declaration

Through the 1993 Winneba Declaration, Ghanaian football was able to shrug off its amateur status.

The formation of professional teams allowed clubs to be incorporated under the companies code (Act 179, 1963) as Limited Liability Companies.

Global Successes

The Ghana Amateur Football Association was affiliated with CAF in 1960, and in 1963 won the bid to host the 5th Africa Cup of Nations, to coincide with the Meeting of the (OAU) Heads of States and Government in Accra.

Ghana won the trophy and went ahead again to successfully defend it in Tunisia in 1965.

After the 1965 triumph, Ghana hosted and won the 13th Africa Cup of Nations in 1978, and four years later, won it again in Tripoli, Libya.

The team have won the Africa Cup of Nations four times (in 1963, 1965, 1978, and 1982), making Ghana the third most successful team in the contest's history, along with Cameroon.

Although the team did not qualify for the senior FIFA World Cup until 2006 when a young leader by name Kwesi Nyantakyi revolutionized the game, Ghana has enjoyed tremendous success at the youth level, winning the FIFA World Under-17 title twice and finishing runner-up twice.

Ghana is the only African country to have won the U20 World Cup in 2009 after defeating Brazil in the final of the tournament played in Egypt.

The Black Satellites have also finished second at the FIFA World Youth Championship twice.

Ghana became the first African country to win a medal in Football at the 1992 summer Olympics in Barcelona.

With regard to women's football, the Ghana Black Queens have participated in two World Cup tournaments and the Olympic Games.

They have also been runners-up to the Falcons of Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations series.

The Black Queens defeated Ivory Coast in early 2018 to win the maiden WAFU Women Cup tournament held in Abidjan.

Mr. Ohene Djan 1957–60 Mr. H. P. Nyametei 1960–66 Nana Fredua Mensah 1966–70 Mr. Henry Djaba 1970–72 Maj. Gen. R. E. A. Kotei 1972–73 Col. Brew-Graves 1973–75 Maj. George Lamptey 1975–77 Maj. D. O. Asiamah 1977–79 Mr. I. R. Aboagye 1979 Mr. Samuel Okyere 1979–80 Mr. S. K. Mainoo 1980–82 Mr. Zac Bentum 1982–83 Mr. L. Ackah-Yensu 1983–84 Mr. L. T. K. Caesar 1984 Mr. E. O. Teye 1984–86 Mr. Samuel Okyere 1986–90 Mr. Awuah Nyamekye 1990–92 Mr. Joe Lartey 1992–93 Mr. Samuel Brew-Butler 1993–97 Alhaji M. N. D. Jawula 1997–2001 Mr. Ben Koufie 2001–03 Dr. N. Nyaho-Tamakloe 2004–05 Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi 2005–June 2018

The FA: 1863 - 2013

The main event of a packed calendar was a Gala Dinner hosted by HRH The Duke of Cambridge, The FA President, in central London on Saturday 26 October 2013.

It was held at the Grand Connaught Rooms, the very site where exactly a century and a half earlier The FA was founded at a meeting which paved the way for the global game we all know and love today.

Pride of place went to the original FA Minute Book from 1863 featuring the first laws of the game as drafted by FA founder Ebenezer Morley and his contemporaries. Leading FA figures and famous England names from past and present were in attendance, along with FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini.

The FA used the event - and the whole FA150 year - to underline its not-for-profit commitment to supporting football since 1863.

With £100m re-invested into the game annually seven million diverse players, 400,000 volunteers, 300,000 coaches and 27,000 referees give their time every week for the nation&rsquos favourite game. It is the unsung grassroots heroes who took centre stage for The FA in 2013.

HRH the Duke of Cambridge said: &ldquoI am a football fan. I have loved the game from a very young age - as a player with my friends, and as a supporter of club and country.

&ldquoI consider it a huge honour to lead The FA - it is an organisation which reaches every community, bringing the simplest enjoyment to people of all ages and all abilities.

&ldquoOver 150 years, football has become part of the very fabric of our society and the year allowed us to celebrate every aspect of this great game.

&ldquoThe FA&rsquos work is far reaching. It is a diverse not-for-profit organisation, which invests over £100m into the game every year delivering facilities for grassroots football, coaching programmes for boys and girls, and development programmes for those with disabilities.

&ldquoIt is a regulator of the game at all levels, ensuring that football is played in a safe, fun and welcoming environment for everyone &ndash whatever their background.

&ldquoOur flagship facilities at St. George&rsquos Park and Wembley Stadium are the inspirational homes of 24 England teams and world leading coach education facilities.&rdquo

A key part of the year was to remember the achievement of Morley, the man who founded The FA by gathering together a group of like-minded men to frame an agreed set of laws for football back in October 1863.

As part of this, The FA has put a plaque commemorating his achievement at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London, site of the old Freemasons&rsquo Tavern where the very first meeting was held, as well as a lasting permanent tribute to the Founding Fathers at Wembley.

FA Chairman Greg Dyke rounded out the year with a special service at Morley&rsquos graveside at Barnes Common, site of the first match played to FA rules. On 19 December 1863, Barnes and Richmond played out a goalless draw at Limes Field.

On 19 December 2013, Dyke said: &ldquoToday is a fitting final act of The FA&rsquos 150th anniversary and a magnificent example of how far the game has come.

"Throughout the year we have celebrated The Football Association&rsquos rich heritage and looked to the future through the wonderful array of grassroots initiatives The FA and its County FAs help to run week in, week out.

&ldquoAll year we have been celebrating 150 years of The FA, and of football, but none of this would have been possible without Morley. We all owe him a great debt.

"What he did to set football on its incredible journey to become the only true global game was a truly remarkable achievement. Today, as we draw the 150th anniversary celebrations to a close it is only right we pay tribute to him.&rdquo

To read all about what The FA did during its 150th anniversary year, click here..

Supporting football since 1863

The FA is the not-for-profit, governing body of football in England. It grows participation, promotes diversity and regulates the sport for everyone to enjoy.

Seven million players of all ages, 400,000 volunteers, 300,000 coaches and 27,000 qualified referees help The FA keep the grassroots game going.

The FA runs 24 England teams, across men&rsquos, women&rsquos, youth and disability football, utilising the world-class facilities of Wembley Stadium and St. George&rsquos Park.

Football Association - History

June 24, 2021
The new issue of The Coffin Corner
Volume 43, Number 3
Available to Members Only

PFRA-ternizingThe cover for The 1951 Los Angeles Rams: Profiles of the NFL’s First West Coast Champions, the third in the Great Teams in Pro Football History series, is unveiled, as is a pre-order discount for the book to be released later this year. Also, there's a special "thank you" to PFRA member Richard Bak, who compiled a complete article index of the entire run of the Coffin Corner, from 1979 to 2021, alphabetized by author.

Official 2021 Hall of Very Good Ballot.NOTE: The deadline for submitting your ballot is October 31, 2021.

The Chicago Bears’ 1965 Draft: Sayers and Butkus Enter the NFLby Bryan Dietzler. There are those who say that the greatest draft the Bears ever had was in 1983, a draft that produced seven starters on the 1985 Super Bowl champions. That may be, but it's hard to beat the back-to-back picks Chicago made in Round 1 of the 1965 draft—two Hall of Famers that could be considered the best to ever play their positions.

Ten Things You Probably Don’t Know About the Detroit Lionsby Randy Snow. A Top 10 list of trivia about the team formerly known as the Portsmouth Spartans. The Lions may not have won a Super Bowl, but how many franchises can boast an astronaut, two backup singers on a gold record hit and seven Heisman winners as former players? "I'll take 'Motor City Minutiae' for $200, Alex.”

Three Former Stars Remember the World Football Leagueby Kenn Tomasch. Gary Danielson, John Dockery, and Bob Gladieux reminisce about their playing days for the New York Stars/Charlotte Hornets of the wild and wooly WFL in this question-and-answer piece. If there's a lesson to be learned in this, it's probably best if you know the chain of custody of your chewing tobacco.

June 20, 2021
Added: Frankie ALbert, John ALexander, George Allen, Jimmy Allen, Lance Alworth, "Hunk" Anderson, Elmer Angsman, Doug Atkins, Red Badgro, John Baker, Terry Baker, Vince Banonis, Billy Ray Barnes, Lem Barney, Cliff Battles, and Sammy Baugh biographies to Biography Committee. Biography Committee

June 14, 2021
Added: Added Herb Adderley, Tony Adamle, Dick Afflis, Troy Aikman and Jim Ailinger biographies to Biography Committee. Biography Committee

June 13, 2021
Added: Added High Green and Harry A. March biographies to Biography Committee. Biography Committee

June 5, 2021
The Pro Football Hall of Fame has agreed to increase the number of attendees we are permitted to have for the 2021 PFRA Convention from 48 to 64, so we are reopening the reservation link for the new slots. Some spaces are also still available for the Thursday Paul Brown Museum Tour add on and the Friday Bender's Luncheon/Tour add on. The Sunday Behind the Scenes Tour add on is sold out. Reservations for the Convention and Friday luncheon can be made on the Convention page. Please contact George Bozeka at [email protected] to make reservations for the Thursday add on or for any questions. 2021 PFRA Convention Update

June 2, 2021
Added: Added Dick Brubaker, Wayne Frazier and Dewey Bohling biographies to Biography Committee. Biography Committee

May 29, 2021
The official 2021 PFRA Convention T-shirt is now available for purchase. Cost for the t-shirt is $20 for domestic orders (or in person), $25 for Canadian orders and $30 for International orders. T-shirts are available in Medium, Large, XL, 2X, 3X, and 4X. Please place your order and designate your size using the Paypal link on this page. The deadline for ordering the t-shirt is June 15. T-shirts will be delivered at the Convention or will be shipped if you do not attend. If you have any questions, please contact George Bozeka at [email protected] 2021 PFRA Convention T-Shirts

May 23, 2021
CONVENTION SOLD OUT!! We have reached maximum capacity based on current state COVID guidelines. If this changes, we will open up more slots for attendees. You can still sign up for the luncheon. 2021 PFRA Convention Update

May 19, 2021
Added September 22, 1974 Gamebook for Chargers-Bengals. Updated "The Best of Each Season" All-Pros Document with new 1933 All-Pro Team. Members Only

May 18, 2021
The new issue of The Coffin Corner
Volume 43, Number 2
Available to Members Only

PFRA-ternizingExecutive Director Mark L. Ford presents his annual “State of the PFRA” report to members and discusses the issues faced by the organization during the pandemic the increase in membership, social media presence and revenue and the upcoming convention at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A detailed itinerary for the 2021 convention is also included.

2020 PFRA Awards.The official announcement of the Ralph Hay Award for lifetime achievement in pro football research and historiography, the Nelson Ross Award for recent achievement in pro football history, the Bob Carroll Memorial Writing Award for the best Coffin Corner article, and the inaugural Jack Clary Award for service to the organization.

Par for the Course: Quantifying the AFL/NFL Drafts from 1960–66by Kent Stephens. An analysis of the seven competitive player drafts between the rival leagues before the common draft era and the author's method of evaluating the success of the upstart AFL in signing the top talent out of college.

Eddie Kotal: The Experiences that Shaped the First Full-Time NFL Scoutby Ryan C. Christiansen. A short biography of the pioneering scout for the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams, whose career as a player and coach influenced the methods he developed to find and evaluate college players in the days before BLESTO and the NFL Scouting Combine.

2020 Player Deaths.A list of the pro football players who died last year, including information on the team(s) they played for, the date and location of their death (if known) and their age when they passed away.

May 4, 2021
Added new speakers, events and the itinerary. 2021 PFRA Convention Update

April 14, 2021
Added: Added Marshall Goldberg, Floyd Hudlow and Bill Shockley biographies to Biography Committee. Biography Committee

March 30, 2021
The new issue of The Coffin Corner
Volume 43, Number 1
Available to Members Only

PFRA-ternizingThe 2021 convention at the Pro Football Hall of Fame is on for June 24–27 this year and organizer George Bozeka gives us an update on the hotel, speakers and activities planned. Announcements are also made on the next book in the PFRA’s Great Teams series and the promotion of Denis Crawford to managing editor of the Coffin Corner.

The Hall of Very Good Class of 2020by Matt Keddie, Jeff Miller, Andy Piascik and Jay Thomas, with illustrations by John Richards. Career highlights of last year's class are included for Ottis Anderson, Jay Hilgenberg, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Ron McDole, Karl Mecklenburg, Richie Petitbon, Sterling Sharpe, and Buddy Young.

Tom Watkins: From College All-American to Stellar NFL Halfbackby Jim Sargent. A short biography of the Iowa State great—and member of the famed 1959 ‘Dirty Thirty’ Cyclones team—who went on to pro football, playing for the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, and Pittsburgh Steelers. He also starred as a return specialist, leading the NFL in punt returns and yardage in 1963.

A Case of Identity Theft, WFL-Styleby Mark Speck. The curious case of George Myers (a.k.a. John Meeger), a linebacker/con artist who fast-talked his way onto the roster of the Word Football League’s San Antonio Wings, was then fired, and drove out of town in a vehicle fraudulently purchased from a car dealer. After trying the same trick with the NFL's Falcons, Broncos, and 49ers, he was finally tracked down in Atlanta by the FBI.

The Last Ride of the 1970s Super Steelersby Jimmy Grant. A recounting of the 1982 Pittsburgh team that played strong in a strike-shortened season, entered the so-called Super Bowl Tournament with high hopes, only to lose in the first round against the San Diego Chargers, unofficially marking the end of their Seventies dynasty.

March 13, 2021
Added 2020 Linescores Members Only

March 6, 2021
Added: Added Jerry DeLucca, Sam Palumbo and Bo Roberson biographies to Biography Committee. Biography Committee

February 3, 2021
Added: Added Joe Cannavino, Dave Behrman, Richie Lucas and Paul Guidry biographies to Biography Committee. Biography Committee

February 2, 2021
The new issue of The Coffin Corner
Volume 42, Number 6
Available to Members Only

PFRA-ternizingPFRA wraps up 2020 with a record number of members, going over 400 for the first time.

The 1920 Akron Prosby C.C. Staph. A review of the first league champions, from their early days as an independent team through the end of their lone championship season.

The American Professional Football Association Season in Review, 1920by M. Booth Lowrey. How the first season was viewed by the few pro football writers of 100 years ago, from the Akron Beacon-Journal to the Washington Herald.

December 23, 2020
Added: Added Don Healy and Billy Kinard biographies to Biography Committee. Updated O.J. Simpson biography. Biography Committee

December 15, 2020
The new issue of The Coffin Corner
Volume 42, Number 5
Available to Members Only

PFRA-ternizing.News about the 8 inductees to the HOVG class of 2021, and details about the rescheduled Canton convention on June 25-26.

Two Stars Are Born: The First Football Game at Three Rivers Stadiumby William J. Ryczek. It was a preseason game on August 28, 1970 , between the Steelers and the visiting Giants, with a lot of firsts. Although it was on a Friday, the TV broadcast was also the pilot for the MNF team of Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell and Dandy Don Meredith, and the national TV debut of Terry Bradshaw and Bob Tucker.

Fists Flew When the 49ers Faced the Eaglesby Joe Hession. A classic from the NFL's "Black Hat" era, September 25, 1953 at Kezar, with plenty of on field brawling interrupted frequently by an NFL game. The 49ers had future heavyweight boxer Charlie Powell, veteran pro wrestler Leo Nomellini, and Hardy Brown, "the meanest man in football". The Eagles had Pete Pihos and Al Pollard. Even the marching band and the San Francisco police got involved in the fighting.

"They Were Really Good!" The 1975-77 Baltimore Coltsby Jimmy Grant. One of the greatest comeback stories of the 70s NFL, as Joe Thomas and Ted Marchibroda turned a 2-12-0 Colts team into the AFC East Division winner three years in a row.

Northern Migrationby Ryan C. Christiansen. Looking back at 1953, when Bud Grant and Mac Speedie bolted the NFL for higher salaries in Canada.

2019 PFRA Bookshelfby John Maxymuk. The annual bibliography of pro football books written in 2019 and published in 2020, including those by PFRA members Richard Bak, Patrick Gallivan, Martin S. Jacobs, Tommy A. Phillips, Joe Zagorski and the late Rupert Patrick.

December 6, 2020
Added: Added Charley Bivins, Marlin Briscoe, Charlie Brown, Bill Laskey (second bio), Marion Motley, Ken Rice and LaVerne Torczon biographies to Biography Committee Biography Committee

November 14, 2020
The latest class of the Hall of Very Good: Ottis Anderson, Jay Hilgenberg, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Ron McDole, Karl Mecklenburg, Richie Petitbon, Sterling Sharpe and Buddy Young

October 12, 2020
Added: Added Rupert Patrick's Gamebooks (1933-34, 1937-42, 1944-45), Added AFL Championship Gamebooks, Updated Game Officials List Members Only

October 4, 2020
Added: Added Bill Laskey, Bob Petrich, John Prchlik and Tom Saidock biographies to Biography Committee Biography Committee

October 3, 2020
The new issue of The Coffin Corner
Volume 42, Number 4
Available to Members Only

PFRA-ternizing.News on Rupert Patrick's final work, the new Jack Clary Award for service to the PFRA, and the Covid-19 pandemic that's changed the normal routine as well as a PFRA member survey.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2020 Centennial Classby the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Profiles and stats of the Modern Era inductees from this year's inductees—Steve Atwater, Isaac Bruce, Bill Cowher, Steve Hutchinson, Edgerrin James, Jimmy Johnson, Troy Polamalu, Steve Sabol, Paul Tagliabue, and George Young.

1950s NFL Tidbitsby Andy Piascik. A look at the NFL's most stable era of the 20th century, the 12-team league with the 12-game season, Saturday night games on the DuMont Network, the two Cleveland Browns' teams ('51 and '53) with 11 Canton-bound players and coaches, and much more.

September 12, 2020
Added: Wayne Crow, Dick Cunningham, Ralph Felton, Jack Johnson, Howard Kindig, Charlie King, Tony King, Henry Schmidt and Donnie Stone biographies to Biography Committee Biography Committee

August 22, 2020
Added: Lawsuit document Chester v. WFL Members Only

August 21, 2020
Added: Bill Atkins, Linda Bogdan, Dan Darragh, Billy Joe, Bob Kalsu, Chick Maggioli, Bob Schmidt, Marty Schottenheimer and Jack Spikes biographies to Biography Committee Biography Committee

August 7, 2020
Added: Max Anderson, Bill Fralic, Booth Lusteg, Mike McBath, Gary McDermott, Tom O'Connell, Art Powell and Willie West biographies to Biography Committee Biography Committee

July 27, 2020
Added: Willie Grate, John Green, Ben Gregory, Tom Janik, Billy Masters, Preston Ridlehuber, Kay Stephenson and Jim Wagstaff biographies to Biography Committee Biography Committee

July 16, 2020
Added: Nate Borden, Hezekiah Braxton, Bob Brodhead, Dave Costa, Chuck DeVleigher, Lou Feist, Angelo Loukas, Leroy Moore, Bob Pifferini, Tom Sherman and O.J. Simpson biographies to Biography Committee Biography Committee

July 14, 2020
The new issue of The Coffin Corner
Volume 42, Number 3
Available to Members Only

PFRA-ternizing.The PFRA's Biography Project has been launched. Also, an announcement on the passing of long-time PFRA president Jack Clary.

Official 2020 Hall of Very Good Ballot.The deadline for submitting your ballot is October 31, 2020.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame's Centennial Class of 2020: the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Profiles of the 10 seniors inducted to Canton, Harold Carmichael, Jimbo Covert, Bobby Dillon, Cliff Harris, Winston Hill, Alex Karras, Donnie Shell, Duke Slater, Mac Speedie and Ed Sprinkle.

The NFL's Space Ship Divisionby Richard Bak. The first NFL try at radios in the helmets, the 1956 experiment by the Lions when radios weren't that compact.

Repus Bowl I: November 27, 1983by Denis M. Crawford. When 1-11 Tampa Bay and 1-11 Houston played the game billed as the opposite of the Super Bowl, deciding which team was the worst in the league.

July 1, 2020
Added: Gary Bugenhagen, Marv Hubbard, Robert James, Mike Mercer, Tom Rychlec and Sid Youngelman biographies to Biography Committee Biography Committee

June 25, 2020
Added: Bobby Burnett, Don Chelf, Tom Flores, Art Laster, Jim Otto, Art Shell and Ken Stabler biographies to Biography Committee Biography Committee

June 15, 2020
Added: Art Baker, Doug Goodwin, Lester Hayes, Mike Haynes, Ted Hendricks and John Matuszak biographies to Biography Committee Biography Committee

June 8, 2020
Added: Marcus Allen, Lyle Alzado, Benny Russell and Manch Wheeler biographies to Biography Committee Biography Committee

June 2, 2020
Added: George Ratterman Biography to Biography Committee Biography Committee

May 13, 2020
Added: Biography Committee Biography Committee

May 6, 2020
The new issue of The Coffin Corner
Volume 42, Number 2
Available to Members Only

PFRA-ternizing.The PFRA Convention has been postponed to June 24-27, 2021. Details on hotel reservations are included.

The Saints of Old Tulaneby Joe Zagorski. A season-by-season look at the years that the Saints played in Tulane Stadium (1967-1974).

When the Eagles Took Flightby Jimmy Grant. A look at the Philadelphia Eagles’ 1980 championship run and what led up to that season.

2019 Player Deaths.A listing of the players who passed away in 2019.

A Critique of the Official 1960s All-Decade Teamby Andy Piascik. The author takes a look at the official all-decade team of the 1960s and proposes an alternative version.

April 25, 2020
Added: Arena Football Leage Resources, Players who Played in the NFL and CFL, 2020 XFL Media Guide and Rules, Interview with Upton Bell. Members Only

March 22, 2020
The new issue of The Coffin Corner
Volume 42, Number 1
Available to Members Only

State of the PFRA.Executive Director Mark L. Ford discusses election results, the PFRA website, and the 2020 PFRA Convention.

2019 PFRA Awards.The announcement of the Ralph Hay Award for lifetime achievement in pro football research and historiography, Nelson Ross Award for recent achievement in pro football history and the Bob Carroll Memorial Writing Award for the best "The Coffin Corner" article of the year.

Hall of Very Good Class of 2019.Biographies of the Class of 2019, written by Andy Piascik (Ed White), Matt Reaser (Everson Walls), Jeff Miller (Art Powell), Jay Thomas (Abner Haynes & Roger Craig), Matthew Keddie (Joe Jacoby & Deron Cherry), and John Turney (Joey Browner).

A Critique of the Official 1950s All-Decade Teamby Andy Piascik. Piascik goes into detail on each selection of the 1950s All-Decade team as determined by the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. Were these the best players of the decade? Were there better choices? An alternative team is proposed by the author.

The First Pro Pass, Revisited. Againby Gregg Ficery. Additional research by the author has discovered an earlier date to the first pro pass. Who was the passer and who caught the pass? The article details that game.

Detroit's Bid to Land Pro Football's Shrineby Richard Bak. A detailed account of Detroit's bid for the Pro Football Hall of Fame to be located in the motor city, instead of Canton.

March 1, 2020
2020 PFRA Convention
The bi-annual PFRA meeting will be held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, June 18-21.
New speakers added. Also add-on activities for Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

February 6, 2020
Members Only
Added 2019 Gamebooks, Added 2019 Linescores, Added Annual Report-FY2019

January 17, 2020
The new issue of The Coffin Corner
Volume 41, Number 6
Available to Members Only

PFRA-ternizing.An update from George Bozeka on the 2020 PFRA Convention at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio from June 18–21 next year that will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NFL, including information on the special hotel discount and a list of events and speakers. Also PFRA election results.

The Unlikely Rivalry: Ken O'Brien vs. Dan Marinoby Jon Taub. A look at the two of the quarterbacks from the famed draft class of 1983: Ken O'Brien and Dan Marino. How did their careers turn out and how did they fair against similar competition?

Immaculate Saturday: One Glorious Day, Two Magnificent Gamesby Brad Schultz. Everyone remembers the Immaculate Reception. Do you remember the Dallas-San Francisco game from the same day? The one where Dallas rallied for 17 points to beat the 49ers to advance to the NFC Championship Game? This article is an analysis of why one was revered and one is all but forgotten.

Cleveland's Dawg Poundby Roger Gordon. A look at the history of Cleveland's Dawg pound and how it got its name.

The First Pro Pass, Revisitedby Ken Crippen. In 1979, Bob Carroll wrote an article on the first documented forward pass. A group of researchers have found two additional passes that occurred prior to Bob's documented pass.

January 17, 2020
Hall of Very Good Class of 2019
The PFRA's Hall of Very Good Class of 2019 has been announced.

January 6, 2020
WFL Clippings and Information
Newspaper clippings and other information from the World Football League.

November 8, 2019
The new issue of The Coffin Corner
Volume 41, Number 5
Available to Members Only

PFRA-ternizing.An update from George Bozeka on the 2020 PFRA Convention at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio from June 18–21 next year that will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NFL, including information on the special hotel discount and a list of events and speakers.

Before the Bears, Before Halas: The Decatur Staleysby Chris Serb. A history of the early years of the A.E. Staley Manufacturing Company’s industrial team that was founded in 1919 and would become the Chicago Bears, including the firm’s fortuitous hiring of George Halas as an employee and player-coach in 1920.

Un-Bear-ably Close: Chicago’s Many Near Misses of the Post-War Eraby Andy Piascik. The Bears—along with the rival Packers—dominated the early years of the NFL, winning seven NFL titles in the 25 years since their first championship in 1921. But they would not win another league title until 1963. This is a recounting of the close calls and agonizing finishes of the club after World War II.

2019 PFRA Bookshelfby John Maxymuk. A bibliography of books on professional football (with a few notable exceptions) published or scheduled to be published in 2019, with highlighted titles by PFRA members.

October 9, 2019
2020 PFRA Convention
The bi-annual PFRA meeting will be held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, June 18-21.
New panel of speakers added.

September 23, 2019
2020 PFRA Convention
The bi-annual PFRA meeting will be held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, June 18-21.
Additional speaker added.

September 10, 2019
2020 PFRA Convention
The bi-annual PFRA meeting will be held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, June 18-21.
Additional details released, as well as PayPal registration and payment.

August 31, 2019
The new issue of The Coffin Corner
Volume 41, Number 4
Available to Members Only

PFRA-ternizing.The candidates for the office of President of the PFRA release their statements on their vision of the future of the organization.

Official PFRA Elections Ballot.Note that the deadline for voting is October 31, 2019.

The Class of 2019by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Career capsules, highlights, statistics and awards from this year’s Hall of Fame class: Champ Bailey, Pat Bowlen, Gil Brandt, Tony Gonzalez, Ty Law, Kevin Mawae, Ed Reed and Johnny Robinson.

The NFL’s Greatest Backup Quarterbackby Mark A. Sullivan. A biography and career overview of Earl Morrall, who played in the league for 21 years, won an NFL title, an MVP award and was a member of three Super Bowl champion teams.

Quick Hits with Al Carapellaby John Vorperian. A freewheeling interview with the former Pro Bowler and San Francisco 49er from the Fifties that includes biographical details of the 90-plus-year-old ex-player.

August 31, 2019
2018 Linescores
The 2018 linescores have been added.
This is available to Members Only.

August 3, 2019
AAFC Scoresheets
PFRA is happy to announce that we have added the All-America Football Conference's offical scoresheets to our collection of historical documents. Included in these files is the scoresheet for every game from the 1946, 1947 and 1949 seasons.
This unqiue collection is available to Members Only.

July 25, 2019
NFL Gamebooks
We have added a significant number of new gamebooks to our collection of NFL gamebooks.
Our holdings are now complete back to the 1996 season and we now have 12134 of the 12847 regular season and playoffs games played by the NFL and the AFL since 1960.
This amazing treasure trove of NFL history is available to Members Only.

July 18, 2019
United Football League
Gamebooks for the 2009-12 United Football Football League.
Available to Members Only

July 16, 2019
2020 PFRA Convention
The bi-annual PFRA meeting will be held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, June 18-21.
Additional details about hotel accomodations and speakers to come in the following weeks.

July 14, 2019
World Football League
Game summaries, milestones and transactions for the World Football League.
Available to Members Only

July 5, 2019
Player Profile: Ox Emerson
The third in a series of articles profiling players throughout NFL history.

July 4, 2019
Player Profile: Al Wistert
The second in a series of articles profiling players throughout NFL history.

June 30, 2019
Player Profile: Lavvie Dilweg
The first in a series of articles profiling players throughout NFL history.

June 25, 2019
The new issue of The Coffin Corner
Volume 41, Number 3
Available to Members Only

PFRA-ternizing.An update on the candidates and deadlines for PFRA elective offices in 2019, the official announcement of the weekend of June 18–21, 2020 for the PFRA Convention in Canton next year and birthday wishes for the PFRA at 40.

Official 2019 Hall of the Very Good Ballot.Note that the deadline for voting is October 31, 2019.

Present at the Creation: An Interview with Joe Horrigan on the Founding of the PFRAby Ken Crippen. The retiring executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame speaks on the founding of the organization and his memories of those early days of the PFRA and those who were at that first meeting in Canton, Ohio.

The Battle of the Decade: The 40th Anniversary of Super Bowl XIIIby J. Brian Ross. A look back at the 1979 Cowboys vs. Steelers rematch of Super Bowl X that would become the most-watched sporting event in television history at the time and a key moment in deciding the NFL team of the Seventies.

The Modern Stadium Explosion: From the 1960s to the Presentby Patrick Gallivan. A brief history of the era of multi-purpose and football stadium construction that began with the Houston Astrodome in 1965 and including the NFL stadiums that opened in the 1960s.

April 27, 2019
The First Issue of The Coffin Corner
In celebrating the 40th anniversary of the founding of PFRA, we take a look back at the first issue of "The Coffin Corner."
Full Issue

Dutch football history in brief

The KNVB has a rich history, marked by multiple name changes. The organisation was founded as the Netherlands Football and Athletics Association (NVAB) on 8 December 1889. The founding father was Pim Mulier, who had also created the country’s first club, the Haarlemsche Football Club (HFC), at the age of 14.

In 1895, after the athletes had separated, the name changed into Netherlands Football Assocation. Another name-change followed a few decades later. To mark the Football Association’s 40th anniversary in 1929, it behoved Queen Wilhelmina to award the 'royal' predicate to the organisation. Thus, the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) was born.

Professional football

A major landmark in Dutch football history came in the early 1950s with the introduction of professional football. During the post-war period, the KNVB had refused to allow payments for players, prompting an exodus of Dutch talent to lucrative competitions abroad. The governing body responded with a drastic measure: players who chose to continue their careers across the border would no longer be eligible for the Dutch national team.

But the momentum in favour of professionalism had become unstoppable. A rival, unofficial, ‘wild’ football association was established out of protest. Ten clubs moved to join the new professional association. Eventually, the KNVB gave in, the two associations merged and professional football has been around ever since 25 November 1954.

Professional football was introduced in the Netherlands in 1954.


Other memorable moments in KNVB history include the first match of the Dutch national team in 1905 and the European title in 1988. Another historic year was 1971, when women's football officially joined the KNVB. Eight years later, girls were also allowed to participate.

Another remarkable development has been the tremendous growth in membership over the years. In 1889, the newly founded Football Association had 250 members. Forty years later, the number had exploded to more than 65,000. And in 1978, the KNVB became the first sports association in the Netherlands to pass the legendary one million membership mark. In 2015, the count stood at 1,227,157 members, the highest number so far.

Association Football or Soccer

Although there have been games recorded around the world involving balls being kicked around a field, the modern rules of Association Football, aka soccer, can be traced back to mid-19th century England. By standardising the many different rules that existed at that time, the great public schools of England could at last compete with each other on a fair and level playing field.

The history of football being played in England dates back many centuries. Medieval or mob football was often played between neighbouring towns and villages, with a mass of players from opposing teams clashing to deliver an inflated pigs bladder from one end of town to the other. Kicking or punching the bladder, or ball, was permitted, as was doing the same to your opponents …these medieval matches were chaotic and had very few rules.

Mob football can still be seen throughout England today, generally played on Shrove Tuesday, Scoring the Hales takes place each year at Alnwick, Northumberland, as does Royal Shrovetide Football at Ashbourne, Derbyshire, with other Shrove Tuesday Football Games being played at Atherstone, Warwickshire and Corfe Castle in Dorset, to name but a few.

Disturbed by the adverse effect that football was having on the good citizens of London, King Edward II banned the game from the city. Later in 1349, his son Edward III banned football entirely, concerned that the game was distracting men from practising their archery. Following the massive loss of life suffered as a consequence of the Black Death, England needed as many archers as possible in order to achieve Edward’s military ambitions in both France and Scotland.

Known for his sporting prowess in his early years, Henry VIII is believed to have owned the first pair of soccer boots, when in 1526 the royal footwear collection is recorded as including “ …45 velvet pairs and 1 leather pair for football”. Perhaps due to his increased waistline and hence his inability to compete at the highest level, Henry later banned the game in 1548, claiming that it incited riots.

The reputation of football as a violent game appears again and again throughout the 16th and 17th centuries in documented accounts, not only from England, but by this time the popularity of the sport appears to have spread to Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

It was in the slightly more civilised surroundings of Cambridge University that in 1848, representatives from the major public schools of England met to agree the laws that would standardise the games played between them. The Cambridge Rules were duly noted and formed the code that was adopted by the football teams of Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Shrewsbury and Winchester public schools. This also ensured that when the students eventually arrived at Cambridge, they all played the same game!

These were not the only rules in place for the game at that time however, as throughout the 1850’s, many clubs not associated with the university or schools continued with their own version of football. Yet another set of rules, known as the Sheffield Rules were used by a number of clubs in the north of England.

It took a hard headed Yorkshireman to finally bang heads together and produce the first comprehensive set of rules for the game. Born in Hull, Ebenezer Cobb Morley had moved to London at the age of 22, to further his career as a solicitor. A keen sportsman and captain of the Barnes Club, Ebenezer instigated a meeting on the morning of 26th October 1863 at the Freemason’s Tavern in Great Queen Street, London, that would ultimately lead to the formation of The Football Association, or The FA as it is perhaps better known today.

It took five further meetings at the Freemasons, between October and November that year, for the FA to produce the first comprehensive rules of football. Even then at the last meeting, the FA treasurer from Blackheath withdrew his club, angered by the removal of two draft rules the first would have allowed players to pick up and run with the ball in hand, the other prohibited a player from tripping up and holding onto an opponent. Other clubs also withdrew their support from The FA and went on to join with Blackheath to form the Rugby Football Union the term soccer was now commonly used to distinguish between the two codes of football.

Meanwhile, showing true Yorkshire grit, Ebenezer along with the eleven remaining clubs, went on to ratify the original thirteen laws of the game. Although some northern clubs remained loyal to the Sheffield Rules well into the mid-1870’s, the FA continued to tweek its laws until there was little difference between the two games.

England v. Scotland 1901

Today the laws of the game are governed by the International Football Association, which was formed in 1886 after a meeting in Manchester between The Football Association, the Scottish Football Association, the Football Association of Wales and the Irish Football Association. The first ever international football match was played on 30th November 1872 between Scotland and England. Played at the West of Scotland Cricket Club ground at Hamilton Crescent in Glasgow, the match finished in a 0-0 draw and was watched by around 4,000 spectators.

Today the game is played across the world by millions, with billions more armchair supporters preferring to watch the game on television. It appears that the ‘beautiful game’ remains close to its historic violent roots however, when in 1969 it caused a four day war between El Salvador and Honduras and later in May 1990, when a match between Dinamo Zagreb and Red Star Belgrade deteriorated into rioting.

As that well known Liverpool FC manager and footballing legend Bill Shankly so eloquently put it …’some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.’


In the year 2000, the Malta Football Association celebrated the first century since its foundation in 1900, having been the first sports organisation on these islands and also becoming one of the oldest, out of the present 204 national football associations world-wide.

The game of Association Football was introduced in these Islands by the British Services who were stationed on the island and, as recorded, the first ever match of Association Football held locally, was played on 4th March 1882 at Marsa between soldiers of the Garrison and the Royal Engineers. Later on, as more matches were played, the game gradually gained in popularity. Maltese teams were formed and started playing against each other or against the British Services. Floriana FC and St. George's FC are the two oldest Maltese football clubs. The first league competition for clubs was organised as early as 1910.

Another eventful occasion for the Malta FA was the introduction of the FA Trophy competition in the thirties after the Football Association (London) donated a trophy to the Malta FA, to be played on a knock-out basis, in gratitude for the support given by Maltese fans in the first ever encounter between Italy and England in Rome in May, 1933. This competition is still in existence and is one of the most prestigious in Maltese football.

A lot of people still talk with nostalgia about the star-studded European teams which used to visit the island especially during the Christmas period for the popular Christmas tournaments which were held at the privately-owned Empire Stadium in Gzira in the pre and post Second World War periods.

In the early fifties, the Malta FA started taking part in Youth Tournaments abroad such as the Viareggio Tournament in San Remo.

The fifties heralded the debut of the Malta national team in the international arena, when Malta played its first international match on Sunday 24th February 1957 against Austria, losing 3-2. That match was played in front of a capacity crowd at the old Empire Stadium.

Two years later, the Malta FA joined the world governing body of football - FIFA (1959) and a year later it became a member of the European Football Union - UEFA (1960). Membership of these international organisations heralded a new era for Maltese football since Malta could now start participating regularly in international football competitions both at national level and at club level. Hibernians and Floriana were the first two Maltese clubs which participated in the European Champions Cup and the Cup Winners Cup respectively way back in 1961. Maltese clubs also started to participate in the Fairs Cities Cup (later UEFA Cup and now Europa League) in 1968. Between 1995 and 2008 Maltese clubs also participated in the UEFA Intertoto Cup and since 1999 also in the UEFA Regions Cup.

Malta applied to take part in the European Nations Cup and was drawn to play Denmark at home and away in 1962. Malta's first participation in the FIFA World Cup Qualification Round arrived in 1971 when the Maltese were grouped with Hungary, Austria and Sweden.

With the complete departure of the British Services from the Maltese Islands on the 31st March, 1979, Maltese football benefited in no small way as far as playing sites, formerly occupied by the British Services, were concerned. Football grounds at such localities as Marsa, Luqa, Corradino, Verdala, St. Andrews, Pembroke and Mtarfa, previously utilised by the British Services, were later converted into sports complexes for the benefit of Maltese football.

But for Maltese football enthusiasts, the most significant breakthrough was the construction by Government of a new National Stadium at Ta' Qali, close to the old City of Mdina, in an area which served as a military airport during the Second World War. This Stadium was inaugurated in December, 1981, and for the first time ever, top Division League matches and international matches started being played on natural turf.

In 1983, the Malta Football Association entered into an agreement with Government for the control and administration of the National Stadium. Since then, the Malta FA endeavoured to improve this Stadium and maintain it to the highest international standards. More recently the Malta Government gave this Stadium and other adjacent land to the Malta FA on a long lease.

Today, the MFA boasts of a National Stadium equipped with all modern amenities, including individual seating, floodlights, digital scoreboards, a public address system, a media centre, a gymnasium, a physiotherapy clinic, a Technical Centre and other facilities such as the adjacent Centenary Stadium which has an artificial playing surface and the Training Grounds which have natural turf surface. These training pitches are regularly used for the training of the National &lsquoA' team and other representative teams and by foreign teams coming on training camps in Malta.

On the turn of the new Millennium, the Malta FA embarked on more projects including the building of the Centenary Stadium and the construction of a new modern spectator stand at the National Stadium.

The principal aim of the Malta FA is to foster the game of football through the organisation of competitions, coaching, refereeing and also love for the game amongst youngsters. The Malta FA is currently formed of fifty-three (53) clubs and ten (13) Member Associations, which in turn organise football competitions for the clubs and teams affiliated with them or other activities related to their status.

One of the most important activities of the Malta Football Association is the organisation and running of the National League in four Divisions and other competitions, including Youth (U/19) competitions, for the clubs.

The Malta FA also introduced Women's Football and Futsal competitions which are growing in popularity quite rapidly. Malta's Futsal teams are now representing our country at national team and club level. The introduction of women's competitions has attracted the interest of the fair sex who have taken up the game as players or undergone courses for referees and coaches run by the Association which is now recognised at &lsquoA' level of the UEFA Coaching Convention.

The Malta Youth Football Association, which is a full member of the Malta FA, caters for and takes care of the running of the leagues from the U/17 category downwards. The Football Nurseries, which are run by the clubs, participate in these leagues. These Nurseries are now conforming to UEFA Licence regulations and adhere to the Grassroots Charter of the European Confederation.

The MFA also organises courses and refresher courses for referees, coaches and administrators on a regular basis. Malta also participates regularly in the preliminary rounds of the FIFA World Cup, the European Football Championship, the European U/21 Championship as well as the European U/19 and U/17 Championships.

Notwithstanding its limitations in size, in human and financial resources, the Malta FA has been entrusted by UEFA to organise several high-level conferences such as the XX UEFA Ordinary Congress held in 1990, meetings of the UEFA Executive Committee and other seminars and conferences for European top coaches and top referees. All these events were well organised that they earned the Malta FA much praise and respect from both the participants themselves as well as from UEFA.

Both the referees and the coaches have their own organisation to cater for the interests of their members. The Malta Football Referees Association was formed in 1949 whilst the Malta Football Coaches Association was founded in 1959. Both of them are now full members of the Malta FA.

The Technical Centre of the Association also runs a National Football Academy where young players selected from the various Football Nurseries spread all around the island attend training regularly at Ta' Qali.

The Malta FA could make all this progress because it has a sound and professional administration, both at political and at administrative levels. Whilst its Council makes the policy, the officials and the Executive Committee of the Association implement the policies. These are assisted by a number of paid employees and a big number of volunteers who have the game of association football at heart.

Administratively, the MFA has made big strides forward to keep abreast with modern needs. Several regulations and clauses in its Statute have been amended, while more Committees and Boards have been set up to streamline its workings.

The MFA official website has also been given a facelift, with new features intended to give out more information and create interactivity with local fans and enthusiasts.

An ambitious project which the Association has embarked upon with the financial backing of UEFA is the assistance to clubs to improve their playing facilities around Malta and Gozo. The Mini-Pitches project under UEFA's hat-trick scheme was another beneficial programme towards enhancing multi-sport playing facilities in many localities of our islands.

Sponsorships abound as the National League and the FA Trophy and Knock-Out Competitions are currently backed by Bank of Valletta and Maltco Lotteries Malta Ltd. This applies also to the national team, which is sponsored by FXDD and GIVOVA

At the level of infrastructure the improvement at the national complex in recent years includes extending and improving the training grounds, the laying of a FIFA Quality Pro Pitch artificial turf, provision of seats and the setting up of a new scoreboard at the Centenary Stadium, the refurbishment at the National Stadium with an all-seater facility, new scoreboard with visual facilities, laying of an artificial turf surface around the pitch, new fencing to replace the old wrought iron ones, a facelift of the dressing rooms and Press area, new hybrid surface besides other embellishments which have all given Malta's football centre stage a new look.

Besides these improved facilities, the Malta FA has converted the old gym underneath the West Stand into a centre for the use of national team players, with a state-of-the-art clinic to cater for their fitness needs and those of member clubs.

The MFA Headquarters had been relocated at Level 2 of the Millennium Stand with a vastly bigger surface area housing conference rooms and offices equipped with modern communication systems. Moreover, the Trophies Lounge was inaugurated recently which is part of a bigger project which includes an MFA merchandise store and the construction of a football museum and auditorium on Level 2 of the Millennium Stand.

Indeed, our association has endeavoured to keep up with the times and will undoubtedly maintain this good work for the benefit of our footballers and the football community in the country.

As one of FIFA's oldest member national associations, founded four years before FIFA itself, the Malta Football Association has made great strides especially during the latter part of the past century and will continue to do so in the further development of the game of Association Football in all its aspects and at the different levels in the coming years.

The above mentioned is mirroring the Malta Football Association&rsquos Mission, which is:

&ldquoTo organise, promote and protect the game of football in Malta and Gozo with respect to the laws of the game and without discrimination on grounds of race, colour or creed.&rdquo