The informal origins of association football can be traced back more than 3,000 years, to the old Mesoamerican cultures who used to play a team game using a rock as a ball.

However, the professional game that we know and love today emerged during the mid-1860s, during which time we saw the first major clubs formed and the sport evolve onto an entirely new level.

But who are the oldest English football clubs, and how have they performed during their rich and extended histories?

1. Notts County

It’s Notts County that’s considered to be the oldest professional football club in England, having been founded in Nottingham in 1862.

One of the founding members of the Football League in 1888, the club’s famous black-and-white striped home kit inspired the famous Juventus attire much later in 1903.

The club was quite nomadic during its formative years, playing at Trent Bridge among other grounds until 1910. At this time, the club moved to Meadow Lane, while they’ve played their home games there ever since.

Nott County have one major trophy to their name (the FA Cup in 1894), while they last featured in the English top-flight in 1991/92.

2. Stoke City

Stoke City is the second-oldest club in the UK, having been founded as ‘The Stoke Ramblers’ in 1863.

Like Notts County, the so-called “Potters” (named after the city’s links to pottery) have only won a single major honour to date, in the form of the League Cup back in 1972.

Stoke were also inaugural members of the Football League upon its formation in 1888, while the club currently plies its trade in the second-tier Championship decision.

The club has known various iterations since its inception, including Stoke Football Club between 1878 and 1925.

3. Wrexham AFC

Next up is the Wales-based Wrexham AFC, which was founded in 1864 and plays its home matches at the iconic Racecourse Stadium and is the oldest professional club in Wales.

Interestingly, this venue is considered to be the world’s oldest international football stadium, having hosted Wales’ first home international match against Scotland in 1877.

Wrexham have never progressed beyond the second tier of English football, having won the old Football League Third Division North (now known as League One) in the 1977/78 season.

However, they have won the coveted Welsh Cup on 23 occasions, while their most famous moment came when they defeated defending English champions Arsenal 2-1 in the FA Cup third round in January, 1992 (the club had finished bottom of the football league the previous season).

The Last Word

Interestingly, the oldest professional club in Europe is Germany’s TSV 1860 München, which was founded in 1860 and two years before Notts County.

Belgian club side Gent was also founded between Stoke City and Wrexham in 1864, beating the latter to the punch by a few months.

Regardless, the UK leads the way when it comes to famous old clubs, accounting for eight of the 10 most historic sides still active in the game.

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