Arsenal Football Club is this weekend supporting the Football Association’s 150th birthday celebrations.
Up and down the country, teams at every level are honouring the landmark day with a host of activities, including players wearing special FA150 T-shirts during pre-match warm-ups. The anniversary comes after a packed programme of events across the year including a nationwide Sir Bobby Robson National Football Day in August and a celebration of 150 grass roots heroes at Buckingham Palace earlier this month.
The FA has used its 150th anniversary to shine a light on the national game. The seven million players of all ages, 400,000 volunteers, 300,000 coaches and 27,000 qualified referees who all help the FA keep the grass roots going. At elite level, the FA runs 25 England teams, across men’s, women’s, youth and disability football, utilising the world-class facilities of Wembley Stadium and St. George’s Park.
Birthday celebrations began earlier this week with a ceremony at Wembley Stadium on Monday to mark the successful search for living descendants of the eight founding fathers of football without whom football as we know, love and play it today, would not exist. Relatives travelled from as far afield as New Zealand and the United States to take part in a ceremony honouring their ancestors.
Then, on Friday, a plaque unveiling was held at the Grand Connaught Rooms, site of the FA’s founding in 1863. FA chairman Greg Dyke and general secretary Alex Horne took part in the ceremony, which means there is finally a permanent record of the birthplace of the world’s most popular sport.
On Saturday night, in central London, a gala dinner will be held at the Grand Connaught Rooms - the location of the Freemasons’ Tavern that staged the very first FA meeting on 26 October 1863 - with HRH The Duke of Cambridge, the FA president, as the chief guest.
Click here to see The Duke of Cambridge’s statement
Taking centre stage at the Dinner will be the original 1863 FA Minute Book, which is currently on display at the British Library until 19 December. Valued at £2.5m, the book contains the handwritten 13 original laws of football penned a century and a half ago by Ebenezer Cobb Morley, the FA’s first secretary.
Guests will also include Dyke, Fifa president Joseph S. Blatter, Uefa President Michel Platini and a trio of World Cup winners in George Cohen, Martin Peters and Sir Geoff Hurst. The FA Board and FA Council will also be in attendance, along with guests from around the world highlighting that football is the only true global game.
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