They achieved a number of FA Cup firsts that season, 10 years after forming as a club in 1861.
Here, in the 150th anniversary of the FA Cup, historian Peter Manning explains why Crystal Palace were instrumental in the competition's founding, and what other landmarks we set in our formative years.
Following its foundation in 1863, the Football Association was quite a fragile organisation. After the great debate over whose rules should be followed had been settled, the ‘rugby’ clubs had resigned en masse and only the few ‘soccer’ clubs remained, but this was all to change in 1866.
At the FA’s 1866 AGM, John Alcock, one of the association’s early Founding Fathers, retired from the FA and was replaced by his younger brother, Charles Alcock, who was to become a driving force of Association Football for the next 25 years.
Charles Alcock was always looking for ways to increase the FA’s influence and in July 1871 put forward the idea of a Challenge Cup that was open to all association members.
It must be remembered that, at this time, football was still a wholly amateur game and clubs did not play in leagues. They simply played friendlies against each other. Alcock’s idea of a Challenge Cup meant all members of the FA could compete against other member clubs across the country and, being a ‘knockout cup’, the winner of the final would, for a year, be crowned the best team in the country.
The FA’s secretary was instructed put the idea to all member clubs and ask for subscriptions to purchase the cup.