Cambridge University Association Football Club is an English football club representing the University of Cambridge. One source, an official university publication that also featured in a BBC article, has claimed that the club was formed in 1856 or 1857, however other sources state its foundation date as 1866. The club gives its foundation date as the later.
Eton, Harrow and Winchester, in particular, developed codes which revolved around a roughly spherical ball being kicked along the ground (Weir, 2004). In 1846, H.C. Malden of Trinity combined these and other football games in the Cambridge Rules, one of the first codes of football, posting them on the trees around Parker's Piece. Debate on the rules continued, and in 1863, a revised set of Cambridge Rules were created.
Colin Weir asserted in his history of CUAFC that: "it would be hard to exaggerate the influence that the University footballers of Cambridge have had on the game in England and subsequently all over the world". This is borne out by the fact that the Cambridge Rules were the main reference point for the initial rules of the The Football Association (FA) in October 1863, the first code for Association football.
It is noteworthy that even in the early 1840s Charles Astor Bristed confirms that at Cambridge there were games played between football clubs from different colleges and houses
In 1882, and CUAFC were still playing on Parker's Piece. A meeting of the Club concluded that it would be advisable to buy a ground, for Parker's Piece was not appropriate "owing to the fact that anyone can walk across and about the ground during the game". But it was not until 1895, however, that they were able to acquire Grange Road, in tandem with the Rugby Club, for £4,300. They were still paying it off until just before the First World War. Grange Road remains the university ground, although it was joined by Fenners in 1975.
Nationally, with the new social legislation of the early 20th century that distributed more money to the working classes and increased leisure time (particularly on Saturday afternoons) and with new technological advances, such as the expanse of railways, which facilitated the nationalisation of leagues, the game of football was truly blooming. All the great clubs of today were formed at this time. The munitions workers at Woolwich Arsenal put down their tools and started picking up their boots in 1886. Members of the cricket club at Everton widened their sporting interests in 1878. However, a disgruntled manager would later decide to form a rival club that played in red. With the support of the Three Crowns, Newton Heath was founded in 1878, soon joining with another side to become Manchester United, while Aston Villa grew out of the Bible Class at a Wesleyan Chapel in 1874. Fair to say that CUAFC’s creation had truly captured the imagination of people from all walks of life.
Cambridge University embraced this football explosion. It provided almost fifty England internationals in the early years. It was given a seat on the FA Council, which it maintains to this day. It has played against a plethora of league sides from within Britain and abroad; the first overseas tour took place in Hungary in 1902. Varsity matches were contested at Wembley until 1989.
The pride in this history and tradition within the club is epitomised by the celebrations of its 150th anniversary: there will be a lunch at the new Wembley Stadium, attended by officials of the FA, Uefa and Fifa, there was a match against an FA XI on May 1 2006, and a German TV documentary in which current players helped re-created that first game on Parker’s Piece a 150 years ago.
A professional coaching set-up is being maintained. Both the Blues and Falcons are now competing in National BUSA leagues.
The full list of England players (with the number of caps received whilst registered with Cambridge University A.F.C.) were: