Today I was invited to preach at a football championship. To make my sermon more relevant, I sought to learn more about the history of football and learned interesting things about the man who had a great impact on football for all time. I thought it good to put this information together and share it with readers. In 2002, the book “The Father of Modern Sport: The Life and Times of Charles William Alcock,” by Keith Booth, appeared in England.
Charles William Alcock was a great football player, cricketer, referee and a talented organizer. He was born in 1842, just four years before 1846, when the first rules of football were developed, which were called the “Cambridge Code.” But those rules were not recognized everywhere. Therefore, in October 1863, in a tavern in London, the representatives of several football clubs met and decided to draw up rules that would be unique and for all clubs. Thus, Rugby was permanently separated from Football. They used to go together because these rules were not unique. The games were accompanied by a lot of trauma and also due to the lack of these unique rules, no competitions could be organized.
When he was in prison and wrote to his disciple Timothy, the Apostle Paul compared the life of faith to participating in a sporting competition and said:
And if someone likewise competes as an athlete, he is not crowned as victor unless he competes according to the rules. (2 Timothy 2:5 NASB)
Charles William Alcock did not participate in the elaboration of these rules, but his brother, John, was one of the active participants. Charles, however, not long after the creation of the Football Association, founded and began to publish the football magazine which is published once a year. Maybe this is just one of the secrets of such great popularity of football. Before there were official competitions, an annual publication promoting this sport had already appeared. And when you think that back then people didn’t have the possibilities that we have to publish printed materials.
Only at the age of 27 did Charles William Alcock become the secretary of the Football Association. Those who voted for him did not imagine what great sport he would bring and what impact it would have on the further development of football. The Football Association was then only 7 years old since its founding.
He organized for the first time the international games in which teams from England and Scotland participated. The first official game was on March 5, 1870, which ended 1:1.
In 1871 Charles William Alcock came up with the initiative to hold the English Football Cup and he is the one who initiated the system called today Olympic, after which the competition between several teams takes place. 12 teams entered the first championship but then the number of participants increased to 15 teams. In this championship Charles Ancock was the captain of the team for which he played and which became champions. He was the first man to lift the FA Cup over his head. Football was far, far away from the popularity it enjoys now. Only 2000 spectators were present at this final game of the first English Cup.
Charles was also a very good cricketer and his example motivated many other cricketers to switch to football.
On March 6, 1975 Charles William Alcock played in the official game between England and Scotland. In this game, Charles even scored the second goal and also for this game he entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest player participating in official international games ever. He was then 32 years and 94 days old.
In 1882 the Football Association of England made a decision banning the financial remuneration of players. After that, several violations were discovered and one of the clubs was even disqualified from the games for a year. As such violations became more frequent, the commission met to discuss and seek solutions. Alcock was the one who looked to the future and said that it would be impossible to stop the development of professional football, and at the next meeting of the association committee he proposed the legalization of professional football. Only half a year after the submission, his proposal was accepted.
Football today is the most widespread and popular sport in the world. No other sport can compare to football. Football is also a special tool for preaching the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Being a member of the PSP Council of the World Sports Coalition, we became part of the same council with Jorghino, and Paulas Silas, players from the Brazilian team. Also, being a good friend of Alex Dias Ribeiro, the chaplain of this team, I learned very nice things about the way God works in them and through them.
A very beautiful and gratifying example for me is the work of the football club Ţintaşii from Moldova which is led by Radu Blendarencu. Are you a Christian? Do you like football? How do you use this game to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Translated by Ina Croitoru