Royal Engineers A.F.C.

Royal Engineers A.F.C.

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Royal Engineers A.F.C.

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The Royal Engineers Association Football Club is an association football team representing the Corps of Royal Engineers, the "Sappers", of the British Army. In the 1870s it was one of the strongest sides in English football, winning the FA Cup in 1875 and being Cup Finalists in four of the first eight seasons of the competition. The Engineers were pioneers of the "combination game", where team-mates passed the ball to each other rather than kicking ahead and charging after the ball.


The club was founded in 1863, under the leadership of Major Francis Marindin.

Combination game

Sir Frederick Wall, who was the secretary of the Football Association 1895–1934, states in his memoirs that the "combination game" was first used by the Royal Engineers A.F.C. in the early 1870s. Wall states that the "Sappers moved in unison" and showed the "advantages of combination over the old style of individualism".

Contemporary match reports confirm that passing was a regular feature of the Engineers' style. An 1869 report says they "worked well together" and "had learned the secret of football success – backing up"; whereas their defeated opponents had "a painful want of cooperation". An 1870 report says...
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