Not to be confused with the similar sounding Australian Rules Football team, the Old Xaverians are one of the oldest amateur football clubs in the United Kingdom. Based out of Liverpool, and currently playing in the Premier Division of the Liverpool Premier League, the Old Xaverians are actually little-known outside of the classical football scholar community. It is time we got to know these greats a little better.
The Old Xaverians
Founded in 1892, the Old Xaverians were a pioneering club in the early 20th Century, based out of Lancashire. Established as an offshoot of the Xaverians Cricket Club, matches were played at Newsham Park, with the first match played on September 8, 1893. That day, the Old Xaverians were comprehensively whipped by Stoneyhurst by 5 goals to nil. What happened immediately after is sketchy at best, as records were seldom kept at the time. What we do know is that over the first couple of seasons in Lancashire Amateur League, Cup Tournament, and English Amateur Cup Competition, the Old Xaverians ensured an up and down few years.
In May 1902, the club embarked on what is one of the first continental tours for any amateur club, touring Holland, with the event described as “the finest exhibition of football seen in Holland”. Belgium was next in 1908, but the Xaverians could not follow on from their success of winning the Lancashire Amateur League and Liverpool Amateur Cup that year, being knocked out in the semi-finals of the King of the Belgians Cup, but second and third team debuts were cause for celebration.
The lack of a proper ground, the death of its founder, and two World Wars took their toll on the club, and by the 1950s, they were cemented firmly in the amateur leagues, with no room to maneuver. Annual flirtations with the relegation zoom were part and parcel of the club’s time in the I. Zingari League.
It wasn’t until the 1990s that the Old Xaverians finally sorted out their facilities. Now, armed with one of the best facilities for any amateur club, they could attract better players, and in club’s centenary year was celebrated by Seventh Eleven side joining Division 6 of the Old Boy’s League, and the Sixth Eleven side being promoted to Division 5. By 1993/1994, the First Eleven were relegated from I. Zingari League.
Brighter times would come, though, with six trophies being won across several divisions in 1996-1997, a first since the 1950s, and in 2001, the Xaverians finally got their hands on the I. Zingari Cup, after 109 years of trying.
The Modern Day Xaverians
Last season (2016/2017) had its ups and downs, too. The Xavs have managed to patch together several cup final appearances, with the reserve team winning the JGM Cup, and the Liverpool County Premier League Division One championship two years on the spin. The third team finished runners-up in the Liverpool County Football Association Intermediate Cup, whilst the fourth team, and over 35s had far less success. Most amateur clubs would call the 2016/2017 season a moderately successful way to celebrate 125 years as one of the oldest (if unknown) English amateur football clubs.