Victorian Premier League

What would the English Premier League look like at the end of the 2012/13 season if its football clubs had retained their original Victorian names and colours? The league title would have been won by a works’ team of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. Newton Heath would be joined in the Champions League by local rivals West Gorton St Mark’s, and by Dial Square, who finished above Hotspur FC courtesy of a last day win at Stanley FC.

The Victorian Premier League contains only 16 teams. Four current Premier League clubs (Chelsea, Swansea City, Norwich City and Wigan Athletic) didn't exist in the Victorian era, so they’re missing from our league table. Only three clubs (Aston Villa, Reading and Queens Park Rangers) retain their original Victorian names – and the latter two have been relegated. They will be replaced next season by promoted Riverside AFC (Cardiff City), and possibly by Watford Rovers (depending on the play-off final result), but not by Hull City or Crystal Palace, neither of which existed in Victorian times.

Only Reading have retained the exact same colours and shirt design – blue and white hoops - with the teams now known as Arsenal, Southampton and Everton also keeping pretty much the same colours. The Merseyside derby might have caused some confusion. St Domingo’s FC (Everton) and Everton FC and Athletic Grounds Ltd (Liverpool) both played in blue and white.

Finally, while all 16 clubs in this table were formed in the Victorian era, only only one can claim to have existed 150 years ago, when association football was first created. Stoke City was founded as Stoke Ramblers in 1863, the year that the Football Association was formed.

UPDATE: This article was originally posted at the end of the 2012/13 season. For the 2016/17 season, Fulham St Andrew's, Aston Villa, Stanley FC, Reading and Queens Park Rangers can be removed, and Boscombe FC, Burnley, Leicester Fosse, Middlesbrough and Watford Rovers can be added to the 'Victorian Premier League'.

Table shows first recorded names and colours. For much more on the origins of football and top clubs from the UK and abroad see the brand new Victorian Football Miscellany.

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6 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “The Victorian Premier League”

  • gerald hurley

    8 February 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Stanley FC are shown as being in 13th place presumably instead of Newcastle who were in the corresponding 2012/13 table after allowing for teams not around in Victorian times. Is this correct as I cannot trace any connection between Stanley FC and Newcastle?

  • gerald hurley

    8 February 2015 at 12:46 pm

    Thanks to ‘All With Smiling Faces’ I can now see the connection between Stanley FC and Newcastle. That will teach me to rely on Wikipedia.

  • Brian Webb

    30 July 2016 at 12:27 pm

    I thought that “Stoke” – founder members of the Football League – went bust in April 1908. An entirely new club was formed later in the year – Stoke City.

    • Goal-Post

      1 August 2016 at 11:17 am

      Thanks Brian. Stoke did go bust in 1908, but I don’t think they considered themselves to have formed an entirely new club. Certainly the official club website considers it to have been a continuation of the same club. And Stoke wasn’t granted city status until the 1920s. The earliest reference I can find to “Stoke City” (via only a quick look) in the archives is from 1925.

      • Brian Webb

        1 August 2016 at 11:56 am

        I made the comments after reading http://gottfriedfuchs.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Stoke – I did my own research which, although not as thorough as I would have liked, agreed with this view. It may be that it was a “Phoenix Club” which we have seen many times in the modern era – a club goes bust but resumes with a slightly different Limited Company title – but I have not seen any evidence.

        Challenging history is a necessary task as unfortunately poor research, copy and paste, and finding selective evidence to support a preset agenda are older than the game of football itself. I recently busted quite a few Luton Town myths including the 130 year old myth that the club was formed by an amalgamation between Luton Wanderers and Luton Excelsior. (See also my comments about the penalty kick). All my findings are fully supported from primary sources. It is for Stoke to do the same. There are a few historians who are attempting to make clubs older than they actually are by mischievous means – it must be challenged. Sunderland, on the other hand appears to have new evidence that they were formed in 1880 not 1879. There needs to be an open discussion with open minds.

  • Goal-Post

    1 August 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Hi Brian, yes you are right that a new company was formed, so technically a new club. I suppose what really matters is did the people involved consider it a separate club, or rather a continuation of the same club under a different name? And if so should the previous history be written off?

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