Crystal Palace 1861


Football historians agree that Crystal Palace’s claim to being the oldest league club in the world is unfounded!

In 2020 after completing our 1861 or 1905?  document we invited football historians to complete a survey,  indicating whether there were two separate Crystal Palace clubs or just a single club. They were asked to summarise their credentials by stating the number of books they had published, the subject matter and also to indicate the number of years they had been researching football history. Forty responses were obtained.  Thirty-seven agreed that the two clubs are not connected.

Six correspondents chose to remain anonymous. These included two submissions which arrived close together, just before the completion deadline. These were only of the individuals who said the clubs had a single history.  Of the remainder, 33 of the 34 said that there were two different clubs, with one historian abstaining. Between them the 33 they had published 253 books and spent 1,014 years in football research. 

The survey results were submitted to the Football Association, amongst other documents, for an independent review undertaken in conjunction with the National Football Museum. They concluded that the two clubs were not connected. In April 2022 the FA confirmed their conclusion to The Times :

 “Amongst those historians, the broad consensus is that there is not a clear, substantial and continuous link from the Crystal Palace club founded in 1861 to that founded in 1905. Therefore, we will continue to recognise both the 1861 and 1905 foundation dates of the clubs named Crystal Palace.”

01. Full Document  25 May Update

We are pleased with the engagement we have had with our document which proves that Crystal Palace FC were established in 1905 as a new club and that they are not connected to the original 1861 club.

Our work has been viewed by over 2000 people with only a handful of Crystal Palace supporters challenging us over its contents. So far Crystal Palace FC (1905), Peter Manning and their supporters have failed to provide a single piece of evidence that proves that the Crystal Palace Company owned the 1861 club and that football was played within the club for the missing 30 years between CPFc 1861 and CPFC 1905.

We challenge anyone from anywhere to PROVE 1861 to be correct. As soon as the evidence is found we will back Crystal Palace’s claim to be the Oldest League Club in the World.

Here is our accurate timeline that is based on actual evidence. It only contains facts, it is not misleading and does not rely on hypothesis or distortion of truth.


Our document was updated on 11 May 2020 to address the belief that CPFC 1861 were owned by the Crystal Palace Company. This is not true and people have been significantly misled by this claim.

We were happy that CPFC (1905) invited us to look into and dispute their claims at then end of their video. After proving the claim to be incorrect we continue to seek engagement with CPFC (1905) to discuss how they would like to withdraw their claim.

Updated Cover

We are pleased that reputable historians that are independent to our team have looked at both sides of the debate and agree with us that CPFC 1861 and CPFC 1905 are two distinctly different football clubs.

“I then turned to a document written by Mark Metcalf and Clive Nicholson, two football historians with impeccable credentials. Backed up with copious contemporaneous references, the authors comprehensively demolish Manning’s thesis and the claims of the club”

We also note the growing scepticism within the press over Oldest League Club Claim.

London Newspaper



Crystal Palace Football Club, which is generally acknowledged to have been formed in September 1905, is claiming that their start date is 1861. This would make them the oldest League Club in the World.

This is quite a claim and being very interested in football history we sought to see if it was true. Our examination was very thorough and has resulted in a 84 page document packed with primary/contemporary source materials – titled CPFC 1861 or 1905? Why the Eagles oldest League club claim should be grounded.

This document shows the CPFC claim is slightly absurd and is ultimately reduced to a short note in 1906 in the CPFC club handbook and which appears never to have been mentioned again anywhere by CPFC since very recently. It is possible to forget your own history but that really is a serious memory lapse.

In the document we follow the qualification requirements as outlined by Martin Westby in his England’s Oldest Football Club’s 1815-1889: A New chronological classification of early football published last year. 

We reveal that no CPFC side was affiliated to the FA from 1875, when an earlier club formed in 1861 went out of existence, to 1905. 

Click on the image to be taken to the full document.

We show that CPFC played not a single League or Cup match between 1875 and 1905. We show how the 3 games in the mid 1890s under the banner of CPFC all contained 8-9 players from Corinthian FC. We show that on one occasion in January 1896 when these Corinthian players decided to play elsewhere the planned CPFC v The Wednesday match became Swindon Town v The Wednesday. 

We show that the local and national press, which covered – and still does – extensively all football developments reported that moves to set up a CPFC in the mid 1890s always reported that this would be a new club. Claims by CPFC today that the failure at this time was due to the proposed club being barred from playing on the cricket pitch at The Crystal Palace are shown to be wrong. 

We show that all articles in the year leading up to and including September 1905 specifically mention this is a new club. We show how the 1905 claim comes up just once in a club handbook in 1906 being left hidden thereafter till well over a century later. 

We also show how the basis of many of CPFC’s claims largely consist of linking facts elsewhere, such as the claim that as other professional clubs were set up out of cricket clubs then so were Palace. 

We also prove that other claims by author Peter Manning that CPFC were keen to follow Woolwich Arsenal into professional football because the Gunners were averaging 25,000 gates are just outright wrong as it was not until they moved to Highbury that Arsenal, in 1919/20, averaged anywhere near such gates. CPFC had already existed for 15 years by this time.

We have sent all of this information to the FA, EFL, Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest, the current oldest League club as they were formed in 1865, Notts County, now of the conference, formed 1862, plus Stoke City FC, who maintain an interest in the subject.

We are now making this document available to the press and to football fans in general. 

Mark Metcalf

Clive Nicholson