History of London Football Association

What do Lord Kinnaird, the dominant figure of nineteenth century football, Charles Alcock, founder of the FA Cup, Edgar Kail, the Dulwich Hamlet amateur who gained full England caps, Danny Blanchflower, skipper of Tottenham Hotspur's great double team, Jimmy Greaves, one of the greatest goal scorers in the history of the game, Johnny Haynes, the first £100 per week footballer, and Sir Alf Ramsey, the man who brought the World Cup to England, have in common? Every one of them played representative football for London!  


Every football follower will know that the starting point for any history of the sport is October 26th 1863 at the Freemasons Tavern, Great Queen Street, London when The Football Association was formed.

The Football Association Laws of 1863 regulated the game in and around London but in some provinces clubs continued to follow their local rules for some time. The most important of these regional variants was at Sheffield. It should be remembered that until the London Football Association was formed The Football Association itself was often referred to as ‘London’. 

In December 1871, a football match was played in Sheffield against London under Sheffield Rules. Return fixtures were played in London under their own Rule version and often a third match, with one half of each version, was played. 

This series of matches led to the Sheffield Association adopting F.A. Laws in 1877 with The Football Association absorbing certain clauses from the Sheffield code. Under a common set of Laws the F.A.’s power as the central authority of the game raised it to a level above all the Counties.

The Football Association now needed to free itself to concentrate on international matches against Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and to determine the Laws of the Game therefore the London Football Association was created on 2nd February 1882 to cater for club football in the capital.

It was described in ‘The Football Annual’ yearbook published by the F.A. in 1882: “In London an Association has been formed for the management of solely metropolitan affairs in affiliation to the parent society, and there is every appearance that it will soon rank as the most influential English Association.” 

F.A. secretary C.W.Alcock stated “Though only in its first year, the London Football Association already bids fair to take a very high position. The object of its institution was to deal with metropolitan football, which was outside the scope of the Football Association, and already comprises fifty two clubs.”

It was written in the book, ‘Association Football and the Men who made it’ ”The London Association was now formed. Hitherto the parent Association had selected London teams, a duty that it really had outgrown, and the new body, with Mr. N.L.Jackson as Honorary Secretary, filled a necessary and useful place.”

With the spectre of professionalism overshadowing the north of England, London clubs each pledged to strictly maintain the status of gentlemen amateurs. Its players required a qualification by birth, or two years residence, or business within the area of the London Postal Districts. 

Its original fifty two member clubs were:

Acton Kildare Rangers
Alexandra Lennox St. Albans
Alpine Rovers Lyonsdown St. Bartholomew’s Hospital
Argus Melrose           St. Bride’s
Barnes* Minerva St. Peter’s
City Ramblers Morton Rangers      St. Thomas’s Hospital
Clapham Rovers Old Brightonians* Somerset
Claremont Rovers* Old Carthusians** Thistle
Dreadnought Old Etonians Tottenham
East Sheen Old Foresters*         Union
Excelsior         Old Westminsters** Upton Park*
Finchley         Olympic         Upton Rangers
Grove House Olympic Rangers Vulcans
Hanover Park Wanderers*
Hatton Rovers Pilgrims West End
Hendon Prairie Rangers Westminster
Hermits Ramblers Woodford Bridge

* Entered the very first F.A. Challenge Cup competition.

** Entered the very first F.A. Amateur Cup competition.

The area administered by the London Football Association is a circle twelve miles in radius with Charing Cross at the centre. The Right Honourable Lord Mayor of London has been the Associations Patron from its foundation. Until the service was discontinued, the LFA’s telegram address was registered with the Post Office as ‘Offside’.

In the beginning The Football Association and London Football Association remained very close in many respects, sharing the same office at 28 Paternoster Row, EC4. The links between the two Associations is further demonstrated by London’s appointment of The Hon. A.F.Kinnaird as its first President. The first vice-president’s were C.W.Alcock (Wanderers) and R.A.Ogilvie (Clapham Rovers). C.E.Hart (Pilgrims) was elected Treasurer.

These gentlemen involved in the formation of the London Football Association are, of course, giants in the early days of the sport. 

The Hon. (later Lord) Arthur Fitzgerald Kinnaird, born 16th February 1847, was an extraordinary man - aristocrat, successful banker, Lord High Commissioner of the Church of Scotland - and football fanatic! He played in nine F.A. Challenge Cup finals, being on the winning side five times. The first three were with Wanderers, who played their early football at Battersea Park and the other two for Old Etonians, a club he founded. In 1911 the second F.A. Cup trophy was awarded to Lord Kinnaird for his services to football, the trophy still remains with his family. 

He played international football for Scotland and in the London versus Sheffield series of matches. His personality swayed The Football Association for five decades as President from 1890 to 1923, having been Treasurer from 1877. 

The minutes of consecutive London FA Council meetings in 1914 showed a complete contrast of fortunes for Lord Kinnaird. Firstly, on 15th September, it was minuted, ‘That the hearty congratulations of the Council be tendered to the President, The Right Honourable, Lord Kinnaird, upon the honour conferred upon him by His Majesty in making him a Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle.’

Secondly, on 1st December, the following minute was recorded, ‘The Secretary had, on behalf of the Association, tendered to the president, Lord Kinnaird, an expression of their respectful sympathy with him and his family upon the death of his eldest son, The Master of Kinnaird, who was killed in action in France, and read a letter from Lord Kinnaird in acknowledgement of same.’ 

He died on January 30th 1923, and the London Association immediately launched a series of Lord Kinnaird Memorial matches, London Professionals versus London Amateurs, to raise £1000 to endow a bed in the Lock Hospital, a sum that was reached in 1927.

Charles William Alcock was born in Sunderland in 1842. He is known as the founder of the F.A. Challenge Cup and was captain of the first winners, Wanderers, a club he founded. He was the scorer of both goals in the first match ever played under Football Association rules on 9th January 1864 at Battersea Park. He represented England at full international level in football, played cricket for Essex and was Secretary of Surrey Cricket Club from 1872 to 1907. It was this connection that saw F.A. Cup finals and London F.A. representative matches played at Kennington Oval. He was Secretary of the Football Association from 1870 to 1895. Just one of his other  achievements  was refereeing the F.A. Cup finals of 1875 and 1879.

R.A.Ogilvie played for England against Scotland in 1874 and was a member of the Clapham Rovers club which won the F.A. Cup in 1879-80.

C.E.Hart, later President of Clapton F.C., in 1890 became Treasurer to the F.A. An England international, he played as goalkeeper for London against Birmingham twice in 1878.

The first Honorary Secretary was N.L.Jackson, a man of strong opinions whose influence saw him become assistant to Charles Alcock at The F.A. and an F.A. Council member. In 1895 he was elected a vice-president of the F.A. He was totally committed to the amateur cause and steadfastly opposed to professionalism, an attitude which was to eventually see him resign his positions. After his revolutionary suggestion that the Football Association divide into a professional section based in Manchester and an amateur section based in London was understandably rejected he turned his back on the F.A. 

This did not mean, however, that Jackson did not leave a lasting legacy to the game. He was the founder of the famous Corinthians Football Club, the club bred on fair play and sportsmanship and was a member of the six man sub-committee which launched the Amateur Cup in August 1893. He was also the ‘inventor’ of the international cap having his proposal that all players appearing for England should be awarded an embroidered cap accepted at Council. N.L.Jackson’s habit of expressing his thoughts out loud did not, it appears, prevent him from being popular with his colleagues who knew him affectionately as ‘Pa’, a name given to him by his Corinthian players.  Pa Jackson had other interests and was one of the founders of the Lawn Tennis Association. 

The London Football Association was run in its early years by the Challenge Cup and Executive committee which was initially made up of: J.Armstrong (Dreadnought), N.C.Bailey (Clapham Rovers), F.Barnett (Upton Park), P.Fairclough (Old Foresters), C.W.Foley (Old Etonians), J.Henderson (Pilgrims), T.Houghton (Prairie Rangers), R.W.Jackson (Finchley), F.B.Montague (Somerset) R.H.B.Redford (Hendon), and E.A.Young (Old Brightonians). Of these N.C.Bailey played thirty four times for the various ‘London’ representative teams and was a full England international for over ten years. Both Bailey and Foley were holders of F.A. Cup winners medals. 

The first cup competition instituted by the Association was the Amateur Senior Cup in season 1882-83, the first winners were Upton Park F.C. The cup was described in ‘The Football Annual’ as “this handsome trophy, value £80,” and it is a truly magnificent trophy.

Another splendid trophy is the London Charity Cup presented to the Association by the Right Hon. Sir Reginald Hanson, Lord Mayor in 1887. Each year eight teams specially selected by the Council played for this prestigious trophy which was engraved with the full line-up of each winning team. Swifts F.C. were the first winners. Many thousands of pounds were raised for very worthy causes before the competition was discontinued in 1974. 

It is interesting to note today how clubs circumstances and standings have changed since the late nineteenth century. For example, in 1893 the Council elected Casuals, Clapton, Crusaders, Crouch End, London Caledonians, Millwall Athletic, Old Carthusians, and Old Westminsters into the Charity Cup ahead of Tottenham Hotspur - and with over twice as many votes!

Throughout the life of London’s representative football the selection of players has been beset with problems, usually over availability and qualification. At times these problems have been acute and the results achieved have not reflected the strength of the Association. Even in early days the selection of players was a problem. C.W.Alcock wrote in 1886: “The London Association ought to occupy a very leading position, as indeed it does in a measure, by virtue of the powerful array of clubs under its control. In this respect it wields great influence, and it is consequently the more to be regretted that various circumstances have combined to prevent the attainment of the place it certainly ought to occupy on the football field. Specially favoured in having an almost unlimited supply of players, it has still failed to reach the standard which Londoners have a right to expect, and in point of actual play has not yet taken the place it is entitled to hold. It has not always, it is true, been able to place its full strength into the field, but there ought to be plenty of talent and to spare over such a wide area as that under the jurisdiction of the London Association.” 

In 1888, T.Gunning of St. Mark’s College, Chelsea, became London’s Honorary Secretary succeeding Pa Jackson. He refereed the very first Amateur Cup final which was contested by two London clubs, Old Carthusians and Casuals, on 7th April 1894.  

The Football League was won in its first season (1888/89) by Preston North End who also lifted the F.A.Cup to complete the double. Their goalkeeper in this unique season was Doctor R.H.Mills-Roberts, who had been London’s goalkeeper on several occasions when a trainee at St. Thomas Hosptial.

When The Football Association moved its offices in 1890 from Holborn to 61 Chancery Lane, part of the accommodation was made available to the London F.A. at an annual rental of £10. It was at meeting of the LFA Council at 61 Chancery Lane on 8th March 1898 that it was decided, ‘to award Caps to those who have represented London in five matches, and Badges to players in three representative matches. Matches to count from any previous award.’ Until then caps and badges were awarded by selectors.
In 1891 one of the most famous of all English sportsmen, C.B.Fry, played in the first of his three appearances for the London Association against Sussex at the Oval. C.B.Fry played cricket and football for England, appeared for the Corinthians at full back before playing for Southampton in the 1902 F.A. Cup final. He also held the British long jump record for twenty one years.
By season 1893-94 the Association was governed by Lord Kinnaird (Old Etonians), President: C.E.Hart (Clapton), Hon. Treasurer: T.Gunning (Old St. Mark’s), Hon. Secretary: R.A.Ogilvie (Clapham Rovers), F.Barnett (Upton Park), N.L.Jackson (Corinthians), F.J.Wall (Marcians), and T.S.Oldham (Old Westminsters), vice-president’s. All except the last named were or had been members of the F.A. Committee or Council. A committee of twenty members acted with these officers in controlling a membership of two affiliated Associations and one hundred and fifty clubs. 

Meanwhile the selection of a representative team was not getting any easier. Following a humiliating 10-0 beating by Sheffield against a London team of only ten men in November 1894, N.L.Jackson encouraged the Council to give up its role as selectors and form a sub-committee to do the job. Therefore on 18th December F.J.Wall’s proposal to form a teams selection sub-committee of seven men, three to form a quorum, was adopted and has been in place ever since.
F.J.Wall, a vice-president of the LFA, succeeded C.W.Alcock as Secretary of the Football Association, a position he held from 1895 to 1934. This gave a total Secretaryship of the F.A. by London F.A. men of sixty four consecutive years. Frederick Wall was instrumental in convincing the F.A. to stage its Cup finals at the new Wembley Stadium. He was knighted in 1930 and was succeeded by Stanley Rous. 

Henry J.Huband, J.P., a man who loved representative football, was elected in 1894 and served fifty nine years, five as Secretary to Division I, fifty years as a vice-president, forty five years an F.A. Councillor, the last sixteen as Hon. Treasurer. He was also Secretary, Treasurer, Chairman and President of the Isthmian League between 1905 and 1952. Apart from chairing London’s Teams Committee for many years he was also involved in the selection of England’s amateur international teams, a role he tackled almost single handedly until the formation of an F.A. selection committee in 1935.

1894-95 saw the arrival of the Leagues and twelve were sanctioned by the Association whilst the number of clubs was doubled. Lieutenant W.Simpson was Hon. Secretary operating from Finsbury Barracks from September 1895 to February 1897 and in this short period was responsible for the inception of the scheme for Divisional Committees which meant a revolution in the election of Council members. Lieutenant Simpson refereed the 1895 F.A.Cup final.

There were now six vice-president’s and four geographical Committees with ten members each, but only six of these from each Division were on the Council. The first Standing Committees appeared in 1897-98, namely, Emergency, Finance, Teams Selection and Rules Revision, each with two vice-president’s and one member from each Division.

Other notable members of the Council in the nineteenth century included Charles Squires (Leytonstone) who, for short periods, was first Hon. Secretary then Hon. Treasurer, B.A.Glanvill (Old Wilsonians), C.Wreford-Brown (Old Carthusians) - all F.A. Councillors - E.L.Holland (Civil Service) who became Middlesex County F.A. Secretary and W.J.Wilson (Old Londonians) who became Surrey County F.A. Secretary.

W.J.Wilson, a teacher,  was convinced of the value of healthy exercise for boys in London’s crowded schools. While at Oldbridge School in 1885 he founded the South London Schools F.A. the first organisation of its kind in the country. Several similar Associations followed in other parts of London and in 1892 these were brought together to form the London Schools F.A. A trophy, donated by the Corinthians F.C., called the Corinthian Shield, is still contested to this day by London district under-15 teams. Wilson’s idea was extended throughout the country and the English Schools F.A. was founded in 1904.

The Referees Committee was formed at the turn of the century as Referees now registered direct to the Association and these numbered two hundred in the first season. Each referee on passing their examination is given a registration number which is retained for life. Records show that referee number 1 was A.Bennett of 90 Rendlesham Road, Clapham. Number 2 was J.E.Snell of 64 Chippenham Road, St. Peter’s Park, number 3 was B.Carthew of 9 Redfern Road, Willesden. Twenty six members of the Council were active referees and all served on the Referees Committee and this position did not materially alter up to the first War.

At the beginning of the Twentieth Century the Council of the London Football Association instigated an annual Inter-Divisional Championship as a means of aiding the selection of  representative players. It resulted in a  trial of divisional playing strength. Appearances in these matches were counted towards qualification for caps and badges. It was quickly discontinued, the creation of divisions was for geographical convenience rather than  competition and the selection of teams proved just as difficult as for representative sides.

At this time the influence of the Old Boys clubs was declining. Season 1902-03 saw Divisional Committees increased to ten members each on the Council. 

In the twenty fifth season T.H.Kirkup became the Association representative to the F.A. and at that time there were approximately 100 Senior and 900 Junior clubs, with 35 Competitions and 400 Referees. 

Thomas Kirkup, a native of Durham, was elected in 1897 and retired fifty years later. He was Secretary of Division 3 for one season, then clerk to the Association, before becoming its first paid Secretary in 1903. The job of secretary to an  Association as large as the London F.A. had clearly become too onerous to be undertaken on a part-time basis and the inevitable step of appointing a full time secretary was taken. He was also a  member of the Council of The Football Association for forty three years, during which time he was made a Life member.

He was one of the three founders of the Isthmian League which, when officially formed on March 8th 1905, appointed Harry Huband secretary and Lord Kinnaird president.
Records for 1905 show that Division 3 had twenty three candidates for ten seats and the other Divisions had eighteen candidates each. Although Council membership was subject to this annual test, it was nevertheless the case that long service by many members became the rule rather than the exception. In 1938-39 Division 2 members had an envious record of 206 years service between them. It was not until 1980 that a Rule change provided for election of Council members every three years instead of annually. This was inevitable, in recent times there are few contested elections in Divisions.

London played its first representative match against foreign opposition on foreign soil in Paris on Christmas Day 1907. The team was under the charge of Mr A.Roston-Bourke and Messrs. Longden and Ritchie, Council members, were also in the party.

This was a fixture originated by the London Football League chairman Mr. Stark, the first game having taken place in 1905. The London Football League, incidentally,  made no distinction between amateur and professional players in its early years. 

The team had an enthusiastic reception in Paris and were splendidly entertained after the match, a feature being the presentation to every team member and the official in charge of a silver medal with a special medallion for the captain.

The gate receipts of 2034 Francs were a record for a football match in Paris beating the previous record of 1100 Francs for France .v. Corinthians. It was agreed that a return fixture be played in London the following season however when Paris eventually came to England they played the London Football Leagues representative team who had resumed the obligation, a fixture which continued for some years with the Dewar Cup on offer - a magnificent trophy.  

Overall the Association has played fifty one matches against eighteen foreign opponents, including the Belgian national team, and visited eight European countries.

In season 1908-09 a Division 5 Committee was formed solely for the Capital’s professional clubs. This ended a messy dispute within the amateur game especially in the Home Counties following the F.A.’s recognition of professionalism in 1885. Middlesex and Surrey were the countries only Associations to oppose the removal of the word ‘Amateur’ from their Rule 3 effectively blocking any professional clubs from joining their Associations. They maintained their allegiance to the south, being the original home of ‘gentlemen amateurs’. N.L.Jackson had warned of the subtle changes coming into the game and made it clear that he did not care for the new trends and cared even less for where he thought it was leading. 

The squabble was made worse when the penalty kick was introduced in 1891. The Arthur Dunn Cup, an ‘Old Boys’ institution, refused to recognise the law and drew a rebuke from The Football Association. There were many months of bitter disputes with both sides becoming entrenched in their views. 

Eventually London accepted eight professional clubs, feeling that the change was unavoidable, either sooner or later. As a result, several highly placed members of London’s Council, supporters of the amateur game, left including C.Wreford-Brown, N.C.Bailey and T.S.Oldham to become involved in the formation of the Amateur Football Association (renamed the Amateur Football Alliance in 1935).

Now that the professional clubs had become a valued part of the Association, they enhanced its reputation with their frequent successes in the F.A. Challenge Cup, Football League and in European competitions.

The first time two London clubs met in a Division One match a new record attendance was created in the Football League. On 9th November 1907 65,000 saw Chelsea play Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

Prior to the 1914-18 break (up to which time Church clubs and Leagues were numerous) there were 1,200 clubs, 100 competitions and 660 referees, but three seasons afterwards the figures advanced to 1,760, 130 and 800 respectively and gradually increased to 2,200, 240 and 1,100 by 1939.

All inter-Association matches were suspended in September 1914 and a survey of the Associations 1183 clubs got a response from 738 whose returns showed  that a total of 8678 players had joined the Armed Forces in France within the first three months of war.
A.T.Ralston of London Caledonians played in the last  representative match before the start of the First World War. It was his twenty ninth appearance, earning his fifth cap, which stands as the record for any player. On the resumption of football in 1919 he joined the Teams Committee as representative of Division 3. Andy Ralston also appeared for Middlesex on occasion and was a well known figure in the amateur game. 

One notable incident occurred in the London Charity Cup final of 1906 when a drop-kick from the opposing goalkeeper, L.T.Driffield of the Casuals, was volleyed back into the net by Andy Ralston from his own half, while playing for London Caledonians. 

Andy Ralston was vice-chairman of the Isthmian League between 1926 and 1935 when he took over as secretary and treasurer of the League until 1949.

He was once approached by a member of the LFA Council, Baron von Reiffenstein, to join his club, Croydon Common, however Andy declined as he’d just signed for Chelsea! He also played for Watford, Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa. He was still a serving vice-president on the Teams Committee when he died suddenly in 1949.

Another notable player before World War One was Vivian Woodward, of Tottenham and Chelsea, who played eight games for London and twenty three full internationals for England while remaining an amateur.

When football started up again following the war a report on L.C.C. pitches showed that only 164 pitches were still available compared to 250 in 1914.

In 1921 another member of the LFA Council, Arthur Holmes, was Knighted.

In the same year the Association established a separate body to administer youth football, thus the London Minor Football Association, as it was known then, became under the aegis of the L.F.A. It is now the London Youth Football Association,  changing its name in 1963. 

The value of the LYFA is considerable. Thousands of players have graduated to adult clubs through London’s youth organisation which continues to provide the capital’s young with an opportunity to play structured football. The LYFA have won the national competition, the F.A. County Youth Challenge Cup twice, in 1960 and 1983.

The Association’s Annual Report of 1931 shows that in its Jubilee year there were over 2,500 Associations, Competitions, and Clubs, and 1161 Referees affiliated to it. In the same year Arsenal brought the Football League Championship to London for the first time.

One of the most famous amateur clubs, Dulwich Hamlet, lost its founder in 1924. Lorraine ‘Pa’ Wilson had joined the London Football Association’s Division 4 in 1898. He became an Auditor in 1900 and Chairman of Division 4 in 1902. He was elected Treasurer of the Association in 1904 and remained in office until his death. To commemorate his service to football the Club and Association combined to fund a scholarship for boys at Dulwich College.

A player who appeared several times for London was W.V.T.Gibbins, a prolific goal scoring amateur who won two full England caps, and was West Ham United’s top scorer in the Football League in 1930/31.

Other London amateurs who won full England caps between the wars were Edgar Kail, W.Caesar and E.G.H.Coleman, all of Dulwich Hamlet and J.W.Lewis of Walthamstow Avenue.
The last amateur ever to win a full England cap was another London stalwart, Arsenal’s Bernard Joy, who played against Belgium in Brussels on May 9th 1936.

When the second World War was declared a Special War Emergency Committee was formed on 18th November 1939 at Winchester House, Old Broad Street with full powers to deal with any matters that may arise. The committee comprised of H.J.Huband (Chairman), F.Longden (Treasurer), L.C.Bowker (Division 1), F.J.Lewis (Division 2), A.T.Ralston (Division 3), W.J.Marriott (Division 4) and T.Thorne (Division 5)..

One of the Committee’s first decisions was to cancel all representative matches already arranged, and that none other should be played except special games arranged for charitable objects approved by the Association.

Unfortunately the archives covering the first twelve years of the Association’s existence were destroyed by enemy action in 1944 while in temporary offices at Upton Park, West Ham. This led to a move to alternative temporary offices at Highbury. 

Following the 1939-45 War C.W.Fuller, then Secretary of Division 3, was appointed Secretary on the retirement of Tommy Kirkup at a salary of £750 per annum. The Association also moved into permanent accommodation at 53 Barking Road.

Bert Fuller became a member of the Council in 1937 and filled the post of Secretary until retiring in 1970. In his own inimitable manner he became a friend and advisor to all, Council, Leagues and clubs alike. In 1984 Bert was elected President succeeding the late Reg Pratt, Chairman of West Ham United. Football lost a great servant when he died on 6th February 1991. 

In 1946 Leslie Alfred Murdoch Mackay joined the Association (nominated by Olovians F.C. and having been encouraged by H.W.Schofield) and served for ten years on the Referees Committee. He was founder of the Fulham Society of Association Referees and had lined in one of the matches against the Rouge Diables. In 1971 he was elected Chairman of the Association until his  retirement. In 1976 he was elected  representative to the Council of The Football Association and served fifteen years on the F.A. Council before retiring in 1992. His service was recognised by being made an Honorary Member of the F.A. He was also only the third post war member of the London Association to receive a long service award from The Football Association having served fifty years with his county, the others being Arthur Coward and Jim Martin. Leslie is now the current President of both the adult and youth sections of the Association. There have only been seven Presidents of the Association.

It was minuted in July 1950 that thanks had been sent to the following Clubs who had provided their grounds free of charge for representative games and cup finals: Tooting & Mitcham, Finchley, Leytonstone, Wealdstone, Hendon, Handley Rise, Leyton, Sutton United, Enfield, Wimbledon, Barnet, and Hayes.

Representative matches against European opposition became popular in the fifties having started in 1947 with an annual Armistice Day match in Belgium, a commitment which was eventually taken over by the Football Combination. 

A typical itinerary for a trip to Europe was undertaken by a party from the Association in 1953 when A.J.R.Coward, F.A.Gibbs, J.Martin, W.H.Perry and Secretary C.W.Fuller accompanied Team Manager Jimmy Seed, team attendant W.Milne and thirteen players who left England for Genoa in Italy at 10.00am on Wednesday 3rd June, playing the match at 5.00 p.m. on 4th and returning at 7.55pm on Saturday 6th June.

An interesting minute from a meeting of the Teams Committee during 1957 notes that the chairman, Arthur Coward, had allowed ladies to partake of the meal after the match against the Army F.A. He got a bit of a ticking off and it was decided that no ladies should be entertained in the future!
The obvious highlight for the representative teams came in 1958 when a combination of  players from London’s professional teams in Division 5 became the first English team to reach a European competition final in the European Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. Having won their qualifying group against Basle of Switzerland and Frankfurt of Germany, then the two-legged semi-final against Lausanne of Switzerland, 45,466 saw the drawn first leg of the final against Barcelona. Unfortunately they were well beaten in the second leg in Spain before a crowd of 62,000. The trophy was presented on the field of play by the President of the competition, Mr. E.Thommen. The aggregate gate receipts were shared out equally among competitors fater all expenses had been deducted. There was a profit of 42,000 SF (approx. £3,500) from the competition which had an average gate over 23 matches of 22,144.

Even at this level arrangements for the matches proved difficult. The competition wanted the two legs of the final played before the end of December but the Senior Teams Committee were sufficiently confident of their authority to inform them that this was inconvenient. Barcelona were offered two dates which they declined and forwarded two of their own. London replied that they could not accept and insisted Barcelona accept the original dates however the Spanish club had a good case for refusing one of them - Spain had an international that day! Eventually, as always, a compromise was reached.

The Berlin Football Association made regular contact in the early sixties with a view to playing a series of matches but London was never again to play foreign opposition. The Teams Committee wrote to the Germans explaining that commitments now required of the Associations Division 5 clubs, particularly in European Competitions, made it difficult to undertake such games. 

Membership figures some three years after the Second World War had dropped to 1,350, 140 and 600, but following the recognition of Sunday football in the early 1960’s membership rapidly increased and is now fairly level at 2,000 clubs, 300 Leagues and Competitions and 1,000 referees.

On St. George’s Day in 1965 the Association’s President, Sir Leslie Bowker, K.C.V.O., O.B.E., M.C. died in Brighton. Leslie Cecil Blackmore Bowker had the most remarkable record of achievements. He played for Division 1 in the inter-Divisional matches of 1906 while a member of West London Old Boys Football Club. Then, in November 1911, represented the Association in a Senior match against Surrey. 

He was elected onto Division 1 of the Council in 1920 at the age of thirty two. One year later he was elected onto the Senior Teams Committee. Sir Leslie, a City Remembrancer responsible for protecting the interest of the City of London in the House of Lords, was knighted in the 1948 New Years Honours, and worked at the Guildhall until his retirement. In 1953 he was elected both President and Chairman of the Council. 

Throughout his life he was a member of the London Football League, first as a player before finishing as President. While a Fulham player, who were in that League at the time, he captained the London League team that defeated the Paris League in France in February 1912.

Season 1919/20 was the highlight of his playing career. While with Dulwich Hamlet he was a winner of the Surrey Senior Cup, London Charity Cup, Isthmian League and Amateur Cup. He even managed to score one of the goals in the 5-1 third round victory over Bishop Auckland, one of the most renowned of amateur clubs.

Sir Leslie was also a vice-chairman and vice-president of The Football Association, who showed he was ahead of his time by voicing his opinion at an F.A. Council meeting, ‘that when the ball is passed back by a member of the defending side from outside the penalty area, the goalkeeper shall not be allowed to use his hands, if he does so, the decision to be an indirect free kick.’

Stanley Nathan joined the Association’s Council, Division 6, in 1966, nominated by the Association of Jewish Youth and it was he who succeeded L.A.M.Mackay as Chairman of the Council in 1981, an office he held for thirteen years before being succeeded by B.M.Gibbons in 1994. While Chairman he was elected Representative of the Association on the Council of The Football Association in 1991.

G.W.L.Keys succeeded Bert Fuller as Association Secretary for three years from 1970 before he, in turn, was succeeded by A.F.Monger. Alan was Secretary for fifteen years before a motor accident forced him to take early retirement. He sadly died within a year of leaving the job.

In 1973 only the sixth Honorary Treasurer was appointed. Basil Stallard of the London Spartan League took charge of finances and has since completed twenty five years service in that position, the longest service of any of the Associations Treasurers.
Since 1975 the Association has entered a representative team in the Southern Counties Cup Competition. It has been winners three times: in 1984, 1988, and 1992. On eight occasions it has been losing finalists.

The Association marked its centenary with a representative match, arranged with the co-operation of The Football Association’s International Committee, Arsenal Football Club, and Division 5’s clubs, against an England XI at Highbury in October 1981. Two very strong teams fought an exciting seven goal thriller.  

Former Division 1 Council member and Secretary, R.S.Ashford, was appointed Association Secretary in 1988 and retained this post until November 1996 when he retired to be succeeded by D.G.Fowkes, however he rejoined the Council when co-opted onto Division 6 in 1998.  

When Bobby Robson took England to the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup in Italy he was the third former London representative player to manage the national team in the final stages of a World Cup following Sir Alf Ramsey and Ron Greenwood.

The most treasured award for a representative player is, of course, a London Football Association cap. Over the years 838 of these wonderful momentos have been awarded since W.R.Moon of Old Westminsters (and England) received the first in 1888.

1997 saw the first representative fixture for London’s women footballers played at Three Bridges F.C. in Sussex. The creation of a women’s team was a natural consequence of the rapidly increasing participation in football by women players. Katie Chapman of Millwall Lionesses scored the first ever goal for the LFA women’s team.  

In over one hundred years existence, very many members of the Council have served the Association for over fifty, forty, thirty years, etc. The presentation to Council members of Long Service Awards in recognition of fifteen years service was first authorised in 1912. Several have been recipients of this coveted award and all these dedicated individuals have played a major role in moulding the history of the London Football Association. 

LFA incorporated into a Company Limited by Guarantee (London Football Association Limited) on 6th November 2000.
LFA moved headquarters to Hurlingham Business Park, Fulham on 23rd August 2004.

Related Articles

View All