FORTY years after Sunderland won the FA Cup, the forgotten hero who created the world’s most famous club competition is to be honoured – thanks to a former chairman.
Sir Bob Murray has been championing the cause of Charles William Alcock, a Sunderland-born pioneer of the beautiful game who is widely considered to be the “founding spirit” of the FA Cup and international football.
Now, after approaching FA bosses, Sir Bob has been told the shipbuilder’s son will be honoured with a restaging of the inaugural final, along with a possible permanent tribute at Wembley Stadium.
“I’m thrilled that Charles Alcock will finally get the recognition he so truly deserves,” said Sir Bob.
“The FA has given its full support to the restaging of the first FA Cup Final that Alcock was responsible for at The Oval between Royal Engineers and Wanderers.
“There could be no more fitting a venue for the commemoration of this match than The Oval, where Alcock also served Surrey CCC with such distinction as well.”
Born in Norfolk Street, Sunniside, in 1842, Charles moved to London during the 1850s, joining the FA committee in 1866 and serving as honorary secretary from 1870 to 1895. Establishing the FA Cup, he captained Wanderer’s, the first ever winning side, at The Oval in 1872 and later refereed the 1875 and 1879 finals.
He also captained England in the first ever international football match against Scotland in 1870.
Although the game is considered “unofficial” by football historians and does not appear in any record books, the match paved the way for the first officially recognised international match between Scotland and England in 1872.
Alcock was selected to captain the England side, but missed out due to injury.
In 1895, he became FA vice president and 26 years later toured with England when the side visited Berlin and Prague for the first time.
“Alcock made a huge contribution to football and was a pioneer of modern football playing styles,” said Sir Bob.
“He was responsible for the first ever international football match, but probably more apt this weekend as we celebrate Sunderland’s 40th Anniversary, he created the FA Cup.”
Meanwhile, a nationwide search has been launched to track down relatives of the lawmakers, including Charles and older brother John, who helped establish the FA 150 years ago. The founding fathers, who also include Ebenezer Cobb Morley, Arthur Pember, Francis Maule Campbell, Herbert Thomas Steward, George Twizell Wawn and James Turner, shaped the future of the sport at a meeting in the Freemasons’ Tavern.
The descendants of the footballing figureheads will be invited to a ceremony at Wembley in October.
For more information visit www.thefa.com/foundingfathers and anyone with details about the founders can email firstname.lastname@example.org.