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News > School News > Ipswich Town Football Club - How it All Began!

Ipswich Town Football Club - How it All Began!

With the huge improvement in the team's fortunes, it's a good opportunity to look back to see where it all began - at Ipswich School and four Old Ipswichians!
31 Oct 2023
School News
Ipswich School Archive Holds a Scrapbook Relating to the Start of Ipswich Town Football Club
Ipswich School Archive Holds a Scrapbook Relating to the Start of Ipswich Town Football Club

At the end of the 19th century, Ipswich School were playing Association Fooball. In 1878, George Sherrington aged 17 (brother of Sir Charles Sherrington, Nobel prize winner and President of the Royal Society) loved soccer but realised he would no longer be able to play the game after he left Ipswich School.  He and three other Ipswichians formed Ipswich Association Football Club. Exactly 100 years later Ipswich Town won the FA Cup at Wembley.

Sir Alf Ramsey's house was but a stone's throw from where Sir Charles Sherrington lived on Valley Road. In 1888, the football and rugby clubs merged to become Ipswich Town Football Club.

In 1888, the Football League was formed of 12 teams, all in the industrial north and midlands. This came about because textile workers, and other trades were given Saturday afternoons off work, so the machinery could be overhauled. This practice became law under the Factories Act, which stipulated all workers had to be given Saturday afternoons off. Bosses did not want their workers to get drunk so many firms founded football clubs (Woolwich Arsenal, Manchester United), church teams such as Everton and Aston Villa were formed. 

So, it was Ipswich School that founded Ipswich Town Football Club the only professional football club founded by an independent school. 

One of its well known players was George Burley who made 394 senior appearances, and was part of the squad that won the FA Cup and UEFA Cup in 1978 and 1981 respectively. Later, during an eight-year reign as manager of Ipswich, George saw the side win promotion to the Premier League via the play- offs at Wembley beating Barnsely 4–2 in 2000 in front of a crowd of 73,427.

Ipswich Town Football Club gave England their most successful managers ever: Sir Alf Ramsey in the World Cup in 1966 and Sir Bobby Robson who took England to the World Cup semi-finals in 1990. 

It is great to see the Club return to form and give so much pleasure to so many fans of all ages including the most famous of all, Suffolk resident, Ed Sheeran. It is also good to remember that it all began with four Old Ipswichians and their love of football!

Some of this article came from the 2019 edition of the OI Journal, pages 18 and 19,  written by Robert Porter (OI 1953-60)

Since this article was published we have been informed by an OI that we have another connection to Ipswich Town. Harold Smith (OI 1930-32) was a life-long fan and director of ITFC for 30 years, notably in the Sir Alf Ramsay and Sir Bobby Robson years.  He was also the Suffolk representative on the Football Association Main Council at Lancaster Gate.

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