The First Season

Football League Founder Members:

Aston Villa
Blackburn Rovers
Bolton Wanderers
Derby County
Notts County
Preston North End
West Bromwich Albion
Wolverhampton Wanderers

* Accrington resigned from The Football League in 1893 and The 'Owd Reds folded altogether in 1896. League football has returned to the Lancashire town in the form of Accrington Stanley (1921-1962 and 2006-present day).

** Stoke became Stoke City in 1925

• The first season of The Football League kicked-off on 8th September 1888, a bright sunny late summer afternoon.

• There were five matches on the opening Saturday, with Blackburn Rovers and Notts County having to wait a further week to make their League debuts.

• The games themselves looked very different to today. The referee stood on the touchline, acting as time-keeper and arbitrating between the two umpires (one supplied by each club) when they could not agree.

• At half time players stayed on the pitch for their five-minute break. There were no numbers, goal nets or substitutes and goalkeepers wore the same kit as their outfield colleagues.

• The match of the day was at Bolton Wanderers' Pikes Lane ground where visitors Derby County won 6-3. At Deepdale, Preston North End triumphed 5-2 in their Lancashire derby with Burnley.

• The first 10,000 attendance was recorded for Everton's 2-1 win over Accrington at Anfield - their original home before relocating across Stanley Park.

• West Bromwich Albion's 2-0 victory against Stoke meant they would have headed the league table - had such a concept been invented at that point - on goal average (goal difference was not introduced until 1976).

• Also in the Midlands, Aston Villa's Gershom Cox scored The Football League's first ever own goal as his side drew 1-1 at Wolves.

• A week later came the Football League's first 10-goal thriller - a 5-5 draw between Blackburn and Accrington.

• At that stage, the rewards for the victors were unclear as agreement wouldn't be reached on a points system for several months with some clubs wanting no points awarded for draws. Eventually two points for a win and one for a draw would find favour.

• Preston's 'Invincibles' were the League's first champions going unbeaten for the whole season and also picking up the FA Cup to become the first 'double' winners.

• Villa were the League's first runners-up, Stoke the first wooden spoonists, although they were re-elected at the annual meeting in 1889 with Newton Heath, who would go on to become Manchester United, receiving just a single vote in their favour.

• Stoke's reprieve was short-lived, however, and at the end of the second season they lost their place to Sunderland.

An official record of the first Football League season, compiled by R.H. Richards, who made a mistake as Notts County lost to Derby County 5-3, not 5-2.