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Cambridge University A.F.C.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cambridge University A.F.C.
Cambridge univ rugby logo.png
Full nameCambridge University Association Football Club
Nickname(s)Blues
Founded1856; 165 years ago (1856) [note 1]
GroundGrange Road Stadium/Fenner's Pitches,
Cambridge, UK
Capacity1,000
ChairmanDr. John Little
PresidentNick Gallagher [5]
CaptainAlexander Bull [5]
LeagueBUCS Midlands 1A
2018-194th
WebsiteClub website

Cambridge University Association Football Club is an English football club representing the University of Cambridge. Official university publications have claimed that the club was formed in 1856,[6] being also recognised as such by The Football Association.[3] The FA awarded Cambridge a plaque in 2006 in honour of its "150th anniversary", giving its foundation date official recognition.[7]

Nevertheless, other sources state that the date of establisnment of the Cambridge AFC is not clear enough, setting it between 1856 and 1866.[4]

Cambridge currently plays in the Midland 1A of the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS), the governing body for university sport in the United Kingdom. The club has also a women's football section, managed by an independent committee. The section has two teams playing in their respective divisions.

History

Background

Varieties of football have been played for many centuries, but until the mid-19th century, none of the modern codes of football existed. Many different games were played at English Public schools and all of these were known simply as "football". Naturally, children who had learnt these games at school now sought to play them at university, but this was problematic because they were used to so many different sets of rules.

Eton, Harrow and Winchester, in particular, developed codes which revolved around a roughly spherical ball being kicked along the ground (Weir, 2004). In 1846, H.C. Malden of Trinity combined these and other football games in the Cambridge Rules, one of the first codes of football, posting them on the trees around Parker's Piece. Debate on the rules continued, and in 1846, a revised set of Cambridge Rules were created. Some records (see Harvey) cite this as the foundation date of the club.

The Cambridge Rules of 1856, one of the first codes of football that formed the basis of the current association football rules
The Cambridge Rules of 1856, one of the first codes of football that formed the basis of the current association football rules

The foundation date of 1856 is based upon the 1856 copy of the Cambridge Rules held by Shrewsbury School which is entitled: "The Laws of the University Foot Ball Club". The Club history probably goes back even further: for example, Harvey states: "Salopians formed a club of their own in the late 1830s/early 1840s but that was presumably absorbed by the Cambridge University Football Club that they were so influential in creating in 1846"[8] Certainly in the early 1840s Charles Astor Bristed confirms that at Cambridge there were games played between football clubs from different colleges and houses[9] Similarly, other sources show that an Arthur Pell established a football club at Cambridge in 1839.[10] This may have been the origin of the Cambridge AFC.

Colin Weir asserted in his history of CUAFC that: "it would be hard to exaggerate the influence that the University footballers of Cambridge have had on the game in England and subsequently all over the world". This is borne out by the fact that the Cambridge Rules were an influence on the initial rules of The Football Association (FA) in October 1863, the first code for association football. Cambridge graduates set up many early football clubs, such as Hallam F.C. in the north and the Forest Club in Essex.

Club establishment

Meanwhile, within the University the 1860s witnessed the foundation of a formalised Cambridge University Association Football Club (CUAFC); the university club had previously been a somewhat ad hoc mix of students from Trinity and Jesus. Once Oxford had followed suit, there was immediate talk of a Varsity match, and on 30 March 1874 the two Universities first met. Although the Light Blues succumbed 1–0, they were to dominate their Oxford counterparts until the end of the century.

In 1882, and CUAFC were still playing on Parker's Piece. A meeting of the Club concluded that it would be advisable to buy a ground, for Parker's Piece was not appropriate "owing to the fact that anyone can walk across and about the ground during the game". But it was not until 1895, however, that they were able to acquire Grange Road, in tandem with the Rugby Club, for £4,300. They were still paying it off until just before the First World War. Grange Road remains the university ground, although it was joined by Fenner's in 1975.

The 1883 side was the first team to introduce the "pyramid" 2–3–5 formation (two defenders, three midfield, and five strikers).[11][12] Following the success of the "Cambridge pyramid" this formation became the norm for all football teams.

Notable players of 1883 side included W.N. Cobbold, A.T.B. Dunn and Pawson.[13] Their passing, attacking style led to a 3–2 victory in the Varsity match. The changes to team formation and playing style introduced by Cambridge AFC led to the longest consecutive run of victories (1883–1887) against the other university and their spectacular 5–1 victory in 1886[13]

Combination play by Cambridge University FC is suggested in contemporary accounts as early as Dec 1872: "The goal for the university was the result of the combined efforts of Adams, Sparham and Smith".[14] In this account Cambridge "played well together".[14]

In 1882, and CUAFC were still playing on Parker's Piece. A meeting of the Club concluded that it would be advisable to buy a ground, for Parker's Piece was not appropriate "owing to the fact that anyone can walk across and about the ground during the game". But it was not until 1895, however, that they were able to acquire Grange Road, in tandem with the Rugby Club, for £4,300. They were still paying it off until just before the First World War. Grange Road remains the university ground, although it was joined by Fenner's in 1975.

Scene of a match v Oxford in 1905
Scene of a match v Oxford in 1905

Nationally, with the new social legislation of the early 20th century that distributed more money to the working classes and increased leisure time (particularly on Saturday afternoons) and with new technological advances, such as the expanse of railways, which facilitated the nationalisation of leagues, the game of football was truly blooming. All the great clubs of today were formed at this time. The munitions workers at Woolwich Arsenal put down their tools and started picking up their boots in 1886. Members of the cricket club at Everton widened their sporting interests in 1878. However, a disgruntled manager would later decide to form a rival club that played in red. With the support of the Three Crowns, Newton Heath was founded in 1878, soon joining with another side to become Manchester United, while Aston Villa grew out of the Bible Class at a Wesleyan Chapel in 1874. Fair to say that CUAFC's creation had truly captured the imagination of people from all walks of life.

Cambridge University embraced this football explosion. It provided almost fifty England internationals in the early years. It was given a seat on the FA Council, which it maintains to this day. It has played against a plethora of league sides from within Britain and abroad; the first overseas tour took place in Hungary in 1902. Varsity matches were contested at Wembley Stadium until 1989.

Present days

The pride in this history and tradition within the club held the celebrations of its 150th anniversary in 2006: there was a lunch at the new Wembley Stadium, attended by officials of the FA, UEFA and FIFA.[3] There was also a match against an FA XI on 1 May 2006, and a German TV documentary in which current players helped re-created that first game on Parker's Piece in 1866.

In 2016 the National Football Museum presented a special award to CUAFC who the museum recognise as the oldest football club in the world, setting its date of foundation in 1856.[15][16]

A professional coaching set-up is being maintained. Both the Blues and Falcons are now competing in National BUCS leagues.[17]

Legacy

Development of the modern passing style

In a detailed investigation into the evolution of football tactics based upon contemporary accounts, Adrian Harvey refers to the teams responsible for the early development of the passing game (including Sheffield, The Royal Engineers[18] and Queens Park) but comes to the following conclusion about the finished, modern team product: "Curiously, the side that was generally credited with transforming the tactics of association football and almost single-handedly inventing the modern game was not a professional team but the Cambridge University XI of 1882. Contemporaries described Cambridge as being the first "combination" team in which each player was allotted an area of the field and played as part of a team in a game that was based upon passing".[19]

In a discussion by CW Alcock on the history of a "definite scheme of attack" and "elaborate combination" in football playing style, he states in 1891: "The perfection of the system which is in vogue at the present time however is in a very great measure the creation of the last few years. The Cambridge University eleven of 1882 were the first to illustrate the full possibilities of a systematic combination giving full scope to the defence as well as the attack"[20] Although there is some disagreement over whether the innovation began with the team of 1882 or 3, other historians have backed up this view,[21] including the football historian Sir Montague Shearman.[22]

England internationals

Twenty-four Cambridge players were capped for England.

The full list of England players (with the number of caps received whilst registered with Cambridge University A.F.C.) were:[23]

See also

Bibliography

  • Colin Weir, 2004, History of Cambridge University Association Football Club. (Yore Publications: Harefield). ISBN 1-874427-86-0.

Notes

  1. ^ Official university publications have claimed that the club was formed in 1856,[1] being also recognised as such by The FA, which also awarded Cambridge a plaque in 2006 in honour of its "150th anniversary", giving its foundation date official recognition.[2] Nevertheless, other sources state that the date of establisnment of the Cambridge AFC is not clear enough, setting it between 1856 and 1866, but ranking it 2nd after the Sheffield F.C..[3][4]

References

  1. ^ BBC Cambridge... the birthplace of football?! on BBC, 13 June 2006
  2. ^ Cambridge University FA rules football hall of fame honour on BBC News, 19 Oct 2016
  3. ^ a b c How Sheffield lost their position as world's oldest club by David Miller on The Telegraph, 9 Aug 2005
  4. ^ a b 7 OLDEST FOOTBALL CLUBS: WHERE ARE THEY NOW? by Alfie Potts Harmer on HITC website, 2019
  5. ^ a b Men's committee on CUAFC website, 3 Jul 2020
  6. ^ BBC Cambridge... the birthplace of football?! on BBC, 13 June 2006
  7. ^ Cambridge University FA rules football hall of fame honour on BBC News, 19 Oct 2016
  8. ^ Adrian Harvey, Football: The first hundred years. Routledge 2005, page 251, reference no. 187
  9. ^ Charles Astor Bristed (1852) Five Years in an English University, page 365
  10. ^ The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Rugby by Richard Bath, Carlton, page 10
  11. ^ Csanadi Arpad, Hungarian coaching manual "Soccer", Corvina, Budapest 1965
  12. ^ Wilson Jonathon, Inverting the pyramid: a History of Football Tactics , Orion, 2008
  13. ^ a b The History of Cambridge University Association Football Club, 1872–2003, Colin Weir, Yore publications, Harefield, Middlesex, 2004
  14. ^ a b Sporting Gazette (London, England), Saturday, 21 December 1872; Issue 554.
  15. ^ "Stars Turn  Out For Hall Of Fame". National Football Museum. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  16. ^ “Oldest club in the world” inducted into the Football Hall of Fame on the UC website, 19 Oct 2016 (archived, 1 Mar 2017)
  17. ^ "BUCS Football 2018-19 - Midlands 1A - Men's". BUCS. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  18. ^ Harvey, Adrian (2005). Football, the First Hundred Years. Routledge. pp. 273, ref 34–119. ISBN 0-415-35019-0.
  19. ^ Murphy, Brendan (2007). From Sheffield with Love. Sports Book Limited. p. 59. ISBN 978-1-899807-56-7.
  20. ^ Association Football, chapter by CW Alcock, The English Illustrated Magazine 1891, page 287
  21. ^ Principles of modern soccer By George Beim, Houghton Mifflin, 1977, page 5
  22. ^ Football, Badminton Library Series, 1904
  23. ^ England Players' Club Affiliations — Cambridge University.

External links

This page was last edited on 18 February 2021, at 07:46
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