FA Cup: Working Class Heroes (1883)


It’s the FA Cup final this weekend, the traditional showpiece end of the football season – so we’ve been looking at some interesting finals of the past. Today’s match is from 1883, when Blackburn Olympic took on Old Etonians at the Kennington Oval in front of 8,000 people.

The FA Cup final of 1883 was a quietly important one, not only for its role in changing the tactics of the game but also its impact on the social standing and wider appeal of football. The public school dominance of the game was beginning to shift.

Blackburn were the eventual winners, beating the Old Etonians 2-1 after extra time and becoming the first working class side to triumph in the competition. Their victory was of  particular interest as they were playing a more modern passing and dribbling style that contrasted strongly with their public school opponents’ long-ball game.

It’s arguable that this final laid the foundations for the modern game, although neither of the teams involved played much of a role in the competition thereafter – Old Etonians never reached another FA Cup final after 1883, and for Blackburn Olympic, it was the pinnacle of their brief existance.

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