Australia's Oldest Football Club Inducted Into The Club of Pioneers

13th March 2024

The World's First Football Club are honoured to welcome Australia's Oldest Football Club, Balgownie Rangers, into the Club of Pioneers!

Founded in 1883, 'Bally' will sit 10th in the list of founding dates, and also become our 29th member of the Club of Pioneers.

The Club of Pioneers was created by Sheffield FC in 2013, where we discover and connect the oldest football club in every country. It was to build a global network of like-minded football clubs to promote the importance of football history, grassroots and amateur game. 

In the 1880s, the club played against other social clubs and also between Balgownie teams. In 1890, Balgownie Rangers was officially registered to play in the newly formed N.S.W. Football Association.

Balgownie was the 4th club to form in Australia. Wanderers, Arcadian and Granville had formed 1883. Since then all of these clubs have folded, Granville being the last to fold in the early 1980s, making Balgownie Rangers the oldest registered running soccer club in Australia.

The club is full of tradition and has produced many famous football players over the years. Some include James ‘Judy’ Masters (who is listed in the Football Australia Hall of Fame), Tom Thompson, Dave Ward and Frank Smith in the early 1900s, George Barlow in the 1950s and more recently Matt Horsley who went on to captain the Wollongong Wolves, win 4 National Soccer League titles and also represent Australia. Matt has recently retired his footballing career after finishing as captain of Perth Glory during December 2005.

Balgownie's President said: "It's a bit surreal, to tell you the truth, to think you can travel to England, go to Sheffield Football Club, walk into the football museum and look on the wall and see a Balgownie Rangers shirt hanging there.

"Since we've had this news on our social media I've ran into people down here, walking around, and they said they've seen it and they wanted to come and have a look."

The Balgownie Rangers' home ground started with humble beginnings as a cow paddock.

The land was owned by miner James Cram, Mr Buckley's great, great grandfather, who worked at the Mr Keira and Mt Pleasant coal mines after moving to Australia from England.

"Recognising that recreation was needed, a paddock was set aside where the miners would get down there once a month, or every second Sunday, and have a game of football amongst themselves," Mr Buckley said.

"John Hunter then progressed it to a football club and the first game against a proper club was against Bulli, then Woonona.

Richard Tims, Chairman of Sheffield FC & Founder of the Club of Pioneers said: "It's a real honour to welcome the pioneer of Australian football into the Club of Pioneers project.

The club has a real history and the people of Australia should know where football kicked off in their country. We're hoping one day that we can take The World's First Football Club to sunny New South Wales."

Sheffield Football Club and the Club of Pioneers, awards the honorary membership within the Club of Pioneers to those football clubs, who:

- Still play football in amateur or professional football competition today.
Have constantly existed as a sports organisation since their date of foundation. (exceptions for periods of inactivity due to external reasons, for example war.)

- Are by definition the oldest existing football club of their country, referring to the foundation date of a football team as part of a multi-sport club or as a proper football club, playing to association football rules.

- Live and support the values of the game and amateur football: Integrity, Respect, Community.

If you wish to discuss the possibility of joining the Club of Pioneers, or to find out more, please email:

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