In 1879, just sixteen years after the English Football Association was formed, Alnwick United Services became the first “association” club in the town. The founders had ties to the Shrovetide festival but the link ended there; mob and association football have tenuous connections.
The Services team were the only football club between Newcastle and Dunbar. The new club played on a flat field on the Wagonways – between the present Co-op and Lindisfarne Road not far from Swansfield Park Road corner.
Other teams including Alnwick’s 2nd X1, Alnwick Working Men’s Club, Alnwick North End, Percy Rovers, Aydon Rovers and St Michael’s Guild were soon in existence, with the latter playing on a pitch near the Church as well as in The Pastures. In 1884 St Michaels and the Hotspur Rugby Football Club amalgamated with Alnwick, renamed as Alnwick Association Football Club, playing in maroon shirts and stockings, and white knickerbockers. They quickly relocated to the Recreation Ground before moving to their present pitch as Alnwick United Juniors in 1901.
In the early days spectators were often reminded to keep outside the touchlines.
Newcastle’s first club, The Tyne, formed in 1877, were invited to play in the town in 1880. The Northumberland FA archives reporting the visit stated “The Tyne club sent a team to show the natives how it (the game) should be played”. The Newcastle Courant adding the 7-1 victory, despite playing up hill in the first half, “doubtless gave the home team a better idea of the game“.
The first AGM of Alnwick Town FC took place in 1910.
Women’s football was already established before WW1, but hadn’t been well received. During the Great War more than 900,000 women worked in munitions factories. Sport especially football, was encouraged and many munition factories developed their own ladies football teams. By this time, Blyth were one of the top teams in the country winning the Munitionettes Cup. In May 1918 there was a well publicised women’s football match at St James’ Park. Blyth Spartans Ladies beat Armstrong Whitworth 60 Shop Ladies 4-2, raising £43 for the Alnwick branch of the Discharged and Demobilised Soldiers and Sailors Federation in front of a good crowd at a rain swept ground. This was first record of any women’s football played in Alnwick and District (see women’s sport).