Railways and Association Football in Britain have links going back to their 19th century origins. Some the clubs that play association football have close links to the railways.
Railways and Football
Association Football became organised and more widely played in the latter half of the 19th century and the early 20th century. In those days before mass car ownership and a decent motorway network, rail reigned supreme as the principal mode of land transport.
As the railway network expanded football grew in popularity, so naturally teams travelled to games by by rail. Later, the railways catered for football supporters, too, with extra trains laid on in the guise of ‘football specials’.
British Railway Football Clubs
During this period many clubs were founded by railway companies and railway employees. Inverurie Loco Works FC of the Highland League was named after the Inverurie Locomotive Works where club’s founders worked.
Horwich Works on the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (LYR) gave birth to Horwich Railway Mechanics Institute (RMI) FC. As Leigh RMI FC the club played in the Northern Premier League until folding in 2011. The club has since risen from the ashes as Leigh Genesis RMI FC.
The LYR founded another team, Newton Heath LYR FC, from the employees of Newton Heath depot. The club later became a bit more famous after they changed their name to Manchester United FC in 1902.
London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) employees based at Starbeck shed started Harrogate Railway Athletic FC, who currently compete in the Northern Premier League Division One North. Harrogate’s nicknames are "The Rail" or "The Locomotives".
The Football Club History Database
The Football Club History Database contains an amazing list of football clubs and their competitive histories. It includes details of other clubs with railway names, including:
- Ashford Railway Works
- Blackburn Railway
- Darlington Railway Athletic
- Gateshead North Eastern Railway
- Great Western Railway
- Kirkby Town Railway
- Lincoln Moorlands Railway
- Metropolitan Railway
- Newcastle East End Railway
- Swindon British Railways
- Wolverton London & North Western Railway
- York Railway Institute
Railway Clubs in the Rest of the World
Railway named or associated clubs are common in other parts. Such teams include:
- Eastern Railway FC in India
- FC Locomotiv Moscow in Russia
- FC Locomotive Leipzig in Germany
- NK Lokomotiva in Croatia
- Pakistan Railways FC in Pakistan
- PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv in Bulgaria
- History of Railways and Football at Spartacus Educational
- Guardian article on the greatest number of league grounds that can be seen on a single train trip (20)
- National Railway Museum resource pack on football and railways
- Football League campaign to tackle railway trespass amongst the young
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