Victorian Football

What would the English Premier League look like if its football clubs had retained their original Victorian names and colours?

This Victorian Premier League (updated for the 2017-18 season) contains only 15 teams. Five current Premier League clubs (Brighton & Hove Albion, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Huddersfield Town and Swansea City) didn't exist in the Victorian era, so they’re missing from the league table.

Brighton (1901), Chelsea and Crystal Palace (both 1905), and Huddersfield Town (1908) would qualify for an "Edwardian Premier League". Swansea City weren't formed until 1912, in the pre-war "Titanic era".

Chelsea's omission mean there is no reigning champion, with the likes of rivals Hotspur FC and Dial Square, and Newton Heath and West Gorton St Mark's battling for the title.

The Merseyside derby would no doubt cause some confusion in a Victorian Premier League, as both Everton and Liverpool originally played in blue, and were both called Everton..! Liverpool FC was formed by the owner of Anfield, John Houlding, after Everton moved from the ground to Goodison Park. Houlding named the club Everton FC and Athletic Grounds, but was forced to change the name to Liverpool FC in June 1892 following objections from the Football League.

Stanley FC are the only new club in the league for 2017-18, having been automatically promoted as champions of the second tier. In the Victorian era, promotion could only be achieved through "test match" play-offs, which Newcastle United won to gain promotion in 1898.

The oldest current Premier League side is Stoke City, who played their first match as Stoke Ramblers in 1868. Some sources claim the club was formed five years earlier than that, in 1863, while others say the original club folded in 1908, and the current club was formed as a separate entity in that year. The official club website says "details remain sketchy", but focuses on 1868, and this chart uses that date.

Only one current Premier League club, Burnley, still retain their original Victorian name. Southampton have retained their original colours, although not their sashed shirt design.

Table shows first recorded names and colours, which were not necessarily used at formation dates.

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8 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “The Victorian Premier League – Updated for 2017-18”

  • 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 – 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?

  • Gary Holmes

    4 August 2017 at 9:00 am

    It’s quite easy to be tough on the question of clubs being wound up, and it’s another chink in Stoke’s 1863 armour, as if they need any.
    However one thing I always wonder about is that most if not all clubs have undergone incorporation at some point, which as I understand it is transferring assets and debts from individuals to a company. A good example (only notable due to its lateness) is Nottingham Forest – in my long-disintegrated 1976 Observer book of football, much of its NF page was on the fact it was the only true football club in the league, but it was finally incorporated in 1982, most other long standing clubs were incorporated far earlier.
    Is there a risk of an artificial judgement between ‘good’ reformations such as incorporation, and ‘bad’ reformations such as bankruptcy, if you recognise wind-ups as creating new clubs, but not incorporation? So in the cases of Stoke and Forest; if you say, incorporation doesn’t count, therefore Forest were formed in 1865, not 1982, then do you also have to say Stoke were formed in 1863/68 (delete as applicable), not 1908?

  • Dave Corfield

    29 December 2017 at 11:20 am

    While it is ok to question historical “facts” unless new firm evidence is found then history should NOT be re-written. A case in point is Stoke City, it seems that certain people decided in the 1990’s decided that the club was formed in 1868 just because nothing in writing still exists before that date. That is just nonsense. If people circa 1900 were writing that Stoke was formed in 1863 then that should be accepted unless firm documentation is found to the contrary. Just because Stoke FC was “officially” formed in 1868 doesn’t mean that a forerunner team/club playing as Stoke Ramblers didn’t exist. And as someone else has rightly pointed out, it is all about the continuation of a club having same or similar personnel playing at the same ground etc. That is my opinion anyway.

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