Crystal Palace F.C. (1861)

Crystal Palace
Full nameCrystal Palace Football Club
Dissolved1876; 147 years ago (1876)
GroundCrystal Palace Park

Crystal Palace F.C. was an amateur football club formed in 1861 who contributed a major role in the development of association football during its formative years. They went on to become founder members of the Football Association in 1863, and competed in the first ever FA Cup competition in 1871–72.

It is thought the amateur club disbanded around 1876, although a team playing under the name "Crystal Palace Football Club" competed against Aston Villa in an exhibition match in November 1895. The Palace team mostly contained guest players from the Corinthian Football Club. The current professional Crystal Palace football club was created in 1905, but have claimed their true foundation date to be that of 1861, after historians discovered links, although disputed, to the original amateur club. This has led to claims that Crystal Palace should be recognised as the oldest professional football club in the world in existence today.



The Crystal Palace Exhibition building where the football club was founded in 1861.

In 1854, the Crystal Palace Exhibition building was relocated from Hyde Park, London and rebuilt in South London near to Sydenham Hill. This area was renamed Crystal Palace. The area also included the Crystal Palace Park which surrounded the site where various sports facilities were built. The amateur Crystal Palace football club was formed here in 1861. It is claimed the football team was established from the Crystal Palace Cricket Club founded in 1857, and that most of its original players were previously members of the cricket club.

Crystal Palace Park

Although both the cricket and football clubs were amateur, they paid rent to the Crystal Palace Company who owned the exhibition building to use the pitch inside Crystal Palace Park which they shared. Membership of the club was by subscription only, at a price of one guinea per season, and spectators who wished to watch the games had to pay the one-shilling entrance fee into Crystal Palace Park.

Players membership

The football club’s players were not company employees; typical membership was formed from wealthy upper-middle-class businessmen who could afford the subscription and had the leisure time to participate in sport. Walter Cutbill (1844-1915) and A. Cutbill were prominent members, and both former pupils at Forest School, which was a leading school in the early development of the game.

Committee member and goalkeeper, Croydon-born wine merchant James Turner (1839-1922) became the first proper treasurer of the Football Association after its formation, and numerous Palace players were influential committee-members of the F.A. during its formative decade.

When international football commenced in 1870 and 1872, players from Crystal Palace featured in both the official and the ‘unofficial’ versions of the first-ever international games.

Four players from the club appeared for the England national team:

Support of Association Rules

The club became founder members of the Football Association in 1863, and along with Wanderers F.C., Barnes F.C. and the N.N. Club, were described by Charles W. Alcock as being the four clubs who formed ‘the backbone of the Association game’ in its early years. Delegates of the club attended every AGM of the F.A. for its first crucial decade, during which time the Laws of the Game were evolved. In 1867, when just five delegates turned up at the AGM, it was only the vote of Crystal Palace’s representative Walter Cutbill which prevented the adoption of two major Sheffield Rules laws. Proposals to adopt rouges (secondary goals either side of the main goal) and the virtual abolition of the offside rule were defeated by a single vote.

Creation of the FA Cup

At the Football Association Committee meeting held on 16 October 1871 to discuss the creation of the FA Cup competition, the Crystal Palace captain and share-registrar Denison Allport (1844-1931) proposed the formation of a committee to draw up the rules required for the competition. He was also part of the delegation which selected and purchased the trophy.

Palace competed in the first ever FA Cup competition in 1871–72, reaching the semi-final stage, where they lost to the Royal Engineers after a replay. This was technically the first FA Cup replay, as rule 8 of the competition allowed both teams to go through in the event of a draw, and Palace had taken advantage of that rule after draws with Hitchin F.C. and Wanderers F.C. - the latter tie after playing an innovative 2-1-7 formation, with two full-backs to cope with the extra threat from the Wanderers, rather than the traditional 1-1-8 or new 1-2-7 formations. The club also played in the FA Cup over the next four seasons, but never reached as far again.

Demise of the club

The club's last recorded match was against Barnes F.C. on 18 December 1875. The Crystal Palace Company had experienced a financial crisis during that year, partly as a result of being sued by its refreshment contractor. Consequently it was forced into a number of cost-cutting measures among the attractions in its park, one of those was the football pitch, which is thought to have caused the team to disband the following year. Until the end of the season players were still giving Crystal Palace as their club of origin for representative matches, but the following season club captain Charles Eastlake Smith was dedicating himself to Wanderers F.C..


The Crystal Palace Company began hosting the FA Cup Final on a regular basis in 1895, which was held at the sports stadium in the Crystal Palace Park. A team playing under the name "Crystal Palace Football Club" competed against Aston Villa in an exhibition match in November 1895. The Palace team mostly contained guest players from the Corinthian Football Club. The company then decided in 1905 they wanted a new professional football club to play at the stadium, an application for the new club was filed with the Football Association in March 1905. The current Crystal Palace F.C. played at the Cup Final venue until 1915, when they were forced to leave due to the outbreak of the First World War.


The club gave its colours as blue and white jerseys, with dark blue knickerbockers and stockings. Although there is no record of the jersey pattern, the usual pattern in the era was in hoops, unless otherwise stated.


This page was last updated at 2023-01-04 10:44 UTC. Update now. View original page.

All our content comes from Wikipedia and under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.


If mathematical, chemical, physical and other formulas are not displayed correctly on this page, please useFirefox or Safari