Home of the FA cup founder - the world’s oldest football tournament.
Did you know the man described as the ‘Forgotten Father of English Sport’ lived for a time in Chingford?
On the corner of Woodbury Way and Kings Head Hill, this house was originally the gatekeeper’s lodge of a large 19th century house called “Sunnyside”. Charles William Alcock lived with his parents and siblings at Sunnyside, now long gone apart from its former gatehouse at 73, Woodberry Way. His father was a successful shipowner, later ship broker and in the mid-1850s moved the family south from Sunderland to Chingford.
Charles Junior wasn’t academically gifted, but he was very good at football. In 1859, Charles and his elder brother John established Forest Football Club. Four of the team members were old Harrovians but there was a strong connection with Forest School Walthamstow and their first ground was nearby.
In 1863 Bell’s Life noted that “the play of Mr C. Alcock of the Forest club elicited great applause”. “…he was ‘an excellent dribbler and goal getter, very hard to knock off the ball, and as hard a worker as he was enthusiastic”.
The Football Association (The FA) was formed in 1863 and within a few years Charles was on the committee. In 1870 he put forward the idea of a challenge cup – today known as the FA Cup - and in 1872 Forest, by then known as Wanderers, beat the Royal Engineers to become the first cup winners.
This wasn’t Alcock’s only achievement. He was heavily involved with cricket too and was a prolific sports journalist. He died in 1907 whilst living in Brighton and is buried in West Norwood whilst his parents were buried at Chingford Old Church.