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The FA at 150: Five people who have made the FA what it is today

Sir Stanley Rous, former FA secretary and FIFA president. Photo: PA Wire Sir Stanley Rous, former FA secretary and FIFA president. Photo: PA Wire

Wednesday, January 16, 2013
1:00 PM

On the day of the Football Association’s 150th birthday, we take a look at five influential individuals who have shaped its history.

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1 Sir Stanley Rous

Unquestionably, the man who has had the biggest influence over English football.

Rous was FA secretary from 1934-1961, he re-wrote the laws of the game in 1938, and championed England’s entry into FIFA in 1946. He left in 1961 - to become FIFA president.

2 Ebenezer Morley

A solicitor and who was first inspired with the belief that football should have a set of rules in the same way the MCC had for cricket. It was his initiative that led to the formation of the Football Association in 1963 and the became the FA’s first secretary and later its president.

He also drafted modern football’s first rules.

3 Sir Denis Follows

Although some commentators have suggested Follows’ era as FA secretary between 1962 and 1973 was uninspired, he did oversee two significant events - though with much influence from his predecessor Rous, who was the FIFA president.

The first was England hosting and winning the 1966 World Cup; the second was in 1971 rescinding the ban on women’s football being played at Football League grounds, a rule which had stood since 1921.

4 Ted Croker

FA secretary between 1973 and 1989, he transformed the finances of an organisation via sponsorship and realised the potential of TV income.

He has the misfortune to be in charge during an era when the game was bedevilled by hooliganism, and with three terrible disasters: Bradford, Heysel and Hillsborough.

He defended football in the face of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s attempts to sideline it, telling her famously: “These people are society’s problems and we don’t want your hooligans in our sport.”

5 David Bernstein

He has only been FA chairman for two years, but has done much to restore it from an all-time low point after the humiliation of the 2018 World Cup bid defeat in 2010.

He persuaded the FA council to agree to reforms to modernise the organisation, including independent board members and the first woman on the board.

He also confronted some painful issues, apologising for the FA’s role in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster and the organisation’s approach to racism following the John Terry abuse case.

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