The 125th season of the Football league is upon us and as a commemorative gesture, the campaign will start with a programme of anniversary fixtures, featuring founding members of the inaugural league competition.
In the Championship, four of the initial founding league members from 1888 will go head to head with 2- time league champions Derby County hosting triple winners Blackburn rovers at Pride Park.
The Lancashire derby between fierce rivals Burnley and Bolton Wanderers will take place at Turf Moor, which was one of only three grounds used in the league’s first season that is still operational today.
In League one, another of the original grounds used in 1888, Deepdale, will host the much anticipated meeting of founder members Preston North End and Wolverhampton Wanders. As one of the world’s oldest football venues, Deepdale has staged exactly 2,342 matches: more than any other stadium.
Also in English football’s third-tier, the oldest Football League club, Notts County, travelled to the world’s oldest professional football ground, Bramall Lane, home of Sheffield United. Sheffield United are one of the leading contenders in the league and currently at Bet365 odds of 10/1 to win League 1 and 10/3 to gain promotion.
Accrington Stanley of league two are also scheduled to visit the Football League’s newest stadium Rodney Parade, home of the competition’s most recent addition, the re-formed Newport County.
To cap the special programme, the 137th encounter between Hartlepool United and Rochdale, the most played Football League match between current members, will take place at Victoria Park: home of the pools.
Football League chairman, Greg Clarke commented that: “For 125 years Football League clubs have delivered a compelling spectacle, week after week, in the process attracting a total audience of more than 2.2 billion people and building indelible relationships with their local communities.
“We look forward to celebrating 125 years of incredible matches, unforgettable moments and intense footballing rivalry.”
Aston Villa, Preston North End, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion, Accrington Stanley, Everton, Burnley, Derby County, Notts County and Stoke City were all original members of the first organised football league.
The concept for the league’s formation was pioneered by then Aston Villa secretary, William McGregor, who sent out a letter encouraging “10 or 12 of the most prominent clubs in England [to] combine to arrange home and away fixtures each season.”
This gesture will continue up until the new Barclays Premier League season begins on the 17th of August.