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Ebenezer Cobb Morley (16 August 1831 – 20 November 1924) was an English sportsman. He is regarded as the father of the Football Association (FA) and modern football.

Ebenezer Cobb Morley
Born(1831-08-16)16 August 1831
Died20 November 1924(1924-11-20) (aged 93)
Resting placeBarnes, Richmond, London, England
Spouse(s)Frances Bidgood
Parent(s)Ebenezer Morley and Hannah Maria[1]

Morley was born at 10 Garden Square, Princess Street[2] in Hull[3] and lived in the city until he was 22.[2]

Morley qualified as a lawyer in 1854, and in 1858 he moved to the London suburb of Barnes to practice as a solicitor in the capital.[3] He founded Barnes Football Club in 1862.[3] In 1863, as captain of the Mortlake-based club, he wrote to Bell's Life newspaper proposing a governing body for the sport. This led to the first meeting of the FA at Freemasons' Tavern, on 26 October 1863. At this meeting, Morley was elected the first secretary of the association.[4] He created the first draft of the rules, that were considered on the FA meeting of 10 November of that year. It was Morley, along with John Alcock and Arthur Pember, who led the move to eliminate rugby-style carrying of the ball and "hacking" (kicking opponents' shins) from the draft rules before they were published in December 1863.[5]

Morley continued to serve as FA secretary until 1866. He resigned as secretary that year on account of the demands of his business, but subsequently served as that body's second president, from 1867 to 1874.[3]

As a player, he played in the first ever match under FA rules, against Richmond in 1863, and also scored for London in the London v Sheffield match held on 31 March 1866.

A solicitor by profession, Morley was a keen oarsman, founding the Barnes and Mortlake Regatta for which he was also secretary (1862–1880). He was also a keen fox hunter, keeping his own pack of beagles.[3] He served on Surrey County Council for Barnes (1903–1919) and was a Justice of the Peace. Morley is buried[6] in Barnes Cemetery, a now abandoned graveyard on Barnes Common, Barnes. He had no children.[6]

The house at which Morley created the first draft of the FA's laws (No 26 The Terrace) carried a blue plaque to Morley. It subsequently collapsed "like a tower of cards" in November 2015 during building work.[7][8]

Morley was the subject of a Google Doodle on 16 August 2018, the 187th anniversary of his birth.[9]

The grave of Ebenezer Cobb Morley in Barnes Cemetery, with a wreath commemorating 150 years of the FA.


  1. ^ "Findings on Ebenezer Cobb Morley (1831-1924)". The FA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 December 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Memorial to FA founder Ebenezer Cobb Morley". Hull Daily Mail. 6 February 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e Butler, Bryon (January 2009). "Morley, Ebenezer Cobb (1831–1924)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 9 August 2009.
  4. ^ "Meeting of Captains". Bell's Life in London: 10. 31 October 1863.
  5. ^ "The Football Association". Bell's Life in London: 6. 28 November 1863.
  6. ^ a b Rudd, Alyson (7 April 2008). "The father of football deserves much more". London: Times Online. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  7. ^ "Mansion that belonged to singer Duffy and former Phones 4U boss collapses". The Daily Telegraph. 26 November 2015. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
  8. ^ Dyduch, Amy (14 May 2013). "Search for founding fathers of football proves fruitless". Richmond and Twickenham Times. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  9. ^ "Google honours the 'father of football'". 16 August 2018. Retrieved 16 August 2018.

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