The 12 clubs that formed the world’s first football league in 1888 in their original kits and, arguably, those pioneering clubs’ most iconic players. Preston North End went unbeaten to become the first league champions. An unbeaten run and without conceding a goal also saw them become the first team to ”do the double” and earned them the nickname “The Invincibles”. Preston again won the league in 1889-90 the last time time the club has reached such heights.

Prints available in sizes 1000 x 700mm and 594 x 420mm.
All prints come numbered and signed by the artist, Bernard Kelly.
Prints produced by Fine Art printer William Chitham.

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Click below for info on each player

Preston North End
Founded 1880
Played: 1946-1960
433 League Appearances, 187 Goals

Finney only ever played for his home town club. Because his father only allowed him to turn professional after he completed his plumbing apprenticeship he was nicknamed ‘The Preston Plumber’. First player to be voted Footballer of the Year twice 1953-54 & 1956-57. Knighted in 1998, Sir Tom is still the President of Preston North End.

Aston Villa
Founded 1874
Played: 1969-1987
590 League Appearances, 47 Goals

Mortimer was captain of Villa in the late 70’s early 80’s, leading them to League Cup success in 1977 and the First Division Championship 1980-81 , adding the European Cup in 1982. A classy midfielder who was known for breaking from a deep position to link with attack or score himself with a defence splitting burst of pace.

Wolverhampton Wanderers
Founded 1877
Played: 1939-1959
490 League Appearances, 13 Goals

Wright spent his whole career with Wolves & led them to 3 League Championships as well as an FA Cup Final victory. He was the first footballer in the world to earn 100 caps. He still holds the record for the longest unbroken run of appearances in competitive international football & captained England for a record 90 times.

Blackburn Rovers
Founded 1875
Played: 1967-1988
672 League Appearances, 23 Goals

A tough defender, Fazackerley made a record number of appearances for Blackburn in an 18 year career. After retiring from playing he has had a distinguished coaching career including spells as assistant to England Manager Kevin Keegan & Sven-Goran Erikkson at Manchester City.

Bolton Wanderers
Founded 1874
Played: 1946-1960
452 league Appearances, 55 Goals

Lofthouse played his entire career for his local team. His 30 goals in 33 games for England gives him one of the greatest goals per game ratios of anyone ever to represent the country. Nicknamed “The Lion of Vienna” in 1952 after scoring his second goal against Austria despite being elbowed in the face, tackled from behind and eventually being brought down by the goalkeeper.

West Bromwich Albion
Founded 1878
Played: 1963-1980
619 League Appearances, 229 Goals

Known for his spectacular goals scored playing either wing half or inside forward . Brown holds the record number of appearances for West Brom scoring 279 goals in 720 competitive matches & was part of their successful cup sides of 1966 & 1968. He was top scorer in the Division One 1970 -71 season at the end of which he gained his only England cap.

Accrington FC
Founded 1878
Played: 1883-1892
73 League Appearances, 3 Goals

Haworth first played for Accrington between 1883 & 1885, before joining Blackburn where he was to win the FA Cup in 1885. By 1885-86 season he was back at Accrington where he won his 5 England caps. During the season following the foundation of the Football League in 1888, he was made captain of the side and led them to 6th place, Accrington’s highest ever League position.

Founded 1878
Played: 1923-1939
438 League Appearances, 379 Goals

The most prolific goal scorer in English football history. Dean was best known for his exploits in the 1927-28 season when he scored 60 League goals, a feat still to be equalled, which helped Everton win the First Division Title. In the words of Bill Shankly “He belongs in the company of the supremely great, like Beethoven, Shakespeare and Rembrant.”

Burnley FC
Founded 1882
Played: 1950-1967
576 League Appearances, 133 Goals

Labelled ‘The Prince of Inside Forward’s’ Mcllroy was Burnley’s most capped International, playing 55 times for Northern Ireland. He was a member of their successful Championship winning team of 1959-60 and also played for Burnley in the 1962 Cup Final which they lost to Spurs. He still regularly attends matches and was made Honorary President of the Club in 2011.

Derby County FC
Founded 1884
Played: 1892-1914
598 League Appearances, 352 Goals

A legend at Derby Country where he played most of his career. The club anthem “Steve Bloomer’s Watchin”‘ is played before every home game. Bloomer was a great “2 footed” player & his speciality was the daisy cutter – a low shot, hit with great power, speed and accuracy. After Jimmy Greaves, he is the second highest all time goal scorer in the First Division.

Notts County
Founded 1862
Played: 1935-1955
390 League Appearances, 231 Goals

Despite flat feet & needing to wear orthotics, Lawton rapidly achieved fame for his pace, heading ability and two footed effectiveness in front of goal. He won the last pre WWII League Championship with Everton and then post War he joined Chelsea. At the peak of
his playing career he shocked the football world with a move to Third Division Notts County for a record fee of £20,000.

Stoke City
Founded 1863
Played: 1932-1965
697 League Appearances, 71 Goals

He’s the only footballer to be knighted whilst still playing. Matthews was regarded as “The wizard of the dribble”. A near vegetarian teetotaller, he kept fit enough to play at the top level until he was 50 years old. He is the oldest player ever to play in England’s top football division.