FA Chairman pays tribute to founding father Morley

Thursday 19 Dec 2013
The FA's Founding Fathers
Greg Dyke, chairman of The Football Association, brought an end to a year of celebration for the organisation’s 150th anniversary.  

On a historic date for world football, commemorating the first-ever match played to FA rules, he visited the grave of Ebenezer Cobb Morley, the man responsible for founding The FA in 1863 and creating football as we know it today.

On Thursday The FA paid tribute to Morley with a ceremony at his grave at the now disused Barnes Old Cemetery. 

The FA honoured Ebenezer Morley


It was followed by a demonstration of how far the game has come since 1863 with a boys, girls and disability football festival, featuring a special commemorative game played between local children from Richmond Park Academy and Christ’s School, which ended 2-3.

Already captain of Barnes Football Club, Morley wrote to the Bell’s Life newspaper to propose the formation of a governing body for the game. In the six meetings that took place at the Freemason’s Tavern as a result of his letter, Morley led a group of men that created the original 13 laws of the game.

“Today is a fitting final act of The FA’s 150th anniversary and a magnificent example of how far the game has come," said Dyke. 

"Throughout the year we have celebrated The Football Association’s rich heritage and looked to the future through the wonderful array of grassroots initiatives The FA and its County FAs help to run week in, week out.


Ebenezer Morley factfile

  • Born Ebenezer Cobb Morley in Hull in 1831
  • Moved to London in 1858
  • Aged 32 was instrumental in the formation of The FA in 1863
  • Oversaw the first match played under FA rules on 19 December 1863


“All year we have been celebrating 150 years of The FA, and of football, but none of this would have been possible without Morley. We all owe him a great debt. 

"What he did to set football on its incredible journey to become the only true global game was a truly remarkable achievement. Today, as we draw the 150th anniversary celebrations to a close it is only right we pay tribute to him.”

The events at Barn Elms sports ground marked exactly 150 years since the first game was played using the laws created by Morley.

On 19 December 1863, the Barnes and Richmond clubs played out a goalless draw at Limes Field, near Barnes Common.

The FA highlighted the occasion by releasing the season results of the National Game Strategy, their £200 million investment into grassroots football, showing how far the game has changed in that time.

Ebenezer Morley

The FA paid tribute to Ebenezer Morley at his grave in Barnes


The successes since the strategy launched include 4,132 additional mini-soccer teams, 1,010 new disability teams and over 650 FA Standard Charter Clubs.

This season, there has been further 880,000 places offered on The FA Tesco Skills Programme and circa £80 million invested in grassroots football facilities, taking the total amount invested since the National Game Strategy launched in 2008 to £388 million.

The FA’s Director of National Game Kelly Simmons, said of the results: “Our 150th year has really helped us highlight The FA’s wider work in grassroots football and there have been huge strides made this year in our national game, particularly in youth football, raising standards and investment into facilities.  

Barn Elms

A match was played at Barn Elms


"There is of course much work to be done, particularly around participation amongst teenagers and adults and ensuring we have the right facilities in places across the country that will encourage more people to play football more often across a range of formats.”

To learn more about Ebenezer Cobb Morley and the other founding fathers of football, as well as The FA’s 150th anniversary, visit www.TheFA.com/FA150.

By Jamie Reid Senior Writer