Burnley Football Club has received what could be the oldest season ticket still in existence anywhere in the world.
The ticket dates back to the 1884-85 season – only the third campaign after Burnley Football Club was founded in 1882 and still four years before the inception of the original Football League in 1888.
The document, then referred to as a members’ card, is the oldest surviving season ticket issued by Burnley FC and has been presented to the club by Mr David Metcalfe, who now lives in Bristol.
David, born in Burnley and an old boy of Burnley Grammar School, left the area in 1973 but still follows his home town club from afar, attending Clarets’ matches when he can, particularly when fixtures take them to Bristol City and Bristol Rovers.
He said: “My father passed the ticket to me 25 years ago. He took me to the games. My son, James, does not follow them so I thought the best place for the ticket to go was back to the club.
“People ask why I haven’t sold it, as it’s likely to be valuable, but I don’t think that’s right. It should go back home.”
In 1885, a single match cost the equivalent of £1.50 to watch. Today season tickets at Turf Moor cost up to £455.
Club historian Ray Simpson said: “It’s music to our ears when people say it belongs here.”
“The members’ card was issued to David’s great-grandfather, Leonard Metcalfe, (named on the card as Len Metcalf), who was actually a playing member of the club, first appearing at senior level in 1883. He played his early games as a winger but it was at left back that he became a regular in the team until 1885.
“It was in this position that he earned a winners’ medal, when Burnley beat local side Trinity FC at Turf Moor, to win the famous Hospital Cup in May 1884.”
Leonard Metcalfe was born into a farming community near Bradford in 1865 and moved to Burnley as teenager, with his parents George and Mary.
“He worked as a weaver for many years and later became a manager within the cotton industry.
Ray added: “The big football news of the summer of 1885 was the formal acceptance by the Football Association of professionalism in football.
“Professionals could only play in the FA Cup and County FA competitions, if they had been born, or had resided for a minimum of two years, within six miles of their club’s ground.”