Established Chatham 1863, FA Cup Winners 1875

About The Club

What are Royal Engineers?

The Corps of Royal Engineers is unique with all our “Sappers” being multi skilled soldiers, combat engineers and tradesmen working alongside all parts of the Army. The Corps play a vital role in the effectiveness of the British Army and the United Kingdom in both peacetime and on Opertations. Their moto of ‘Ubique’ means everywhere a fitting description to the capabilities that they bring to all three services.

All players of RE AFC are serving soldiers and who serve with units that deploy on operations. It is not uncommon for a player to be playing one season and the next to be on warfighting deployment in Ahfganistan.

Royal Engineers Association Football Club (RE AFC)


Sappers moved in unison, showing the advantages of combination football over the old style of individualism”

Sir Frederick Wall, FA Secretary 1895-1934

The Royal Engineers Association Football Club (RE AFC) was formed in 1863 by Major Francais Marindin, an ex-Old Etonian, and was one of 15 clubs which established the Football Association in 1871 and introduced the FA Challenge Cup.  Major Marindin, captain of the Engineers’ team, was a member of the FA committee from the outset, becoming President of the FA in 1874 and serving in that capacity until 1879.  As a referee, he also officiated in a record 8 FA Cup finals and was considered “one of the outstanding referees who really knew the rules”.

The Royal Engineers dominated the early years of the FA Challenge Cup.  In the inaugural year of the competition (entry fee £1!), the Sappers reached the final without conceding a single goal and were odds-on favorites to beat the Wanderers.  The final took place at Kennington Oval on 16th March 1872, but the Wanderers dominated the game and won 1–0.

Between 1871 and 1879, the Royal Engineers played a total of 65 FA Cup ties, contesting four finals and winning the competition in 1875.  The team’s success was built on teamwork and the Sappers were credited with developing the passing game, replacing the long-ball and dribbling tactics favoured in the early years.

The 1875 final was against Old Etonians, again played at the Kennington Oval.  Major Marindin had divided loyalties and withdrew himself from the team.  The score at full time was 1-1 and in a replay three days later, the Sappers clinched a 2-0 victory to win the Cup, an achievement that is symbolized today in the Club’s badge.  In 1971, the Corps was presented with a ¾ size replica of the FA Cup to commemorate the centenary of the FA and the trophy now resides in the RE HQ Mess atChatham.

The Royal Engineers and Wimbledon FC are the only existing clubs to have won the FA Cup and FA Amateur Cup, the latter being won by the RE AFC in 1908.  Eight players have earned international caps whilst serving with the Royal Engineers (6 forEngland, 2 forScotland) and the Sappers took part in the first international football match to be played inFranceafter liberation in 1944.

In recent decades, the Royal Engineers have remained at the forefront of football in the Army, regularly winning competitions at both unit and Corps level and continuing to play the game in the spirit of their illustrious forebears.  28 Engineer Regiment’s nine Army Challenge Cup victories in 13 seasons between 1990 and 2002 is a record that is unlikely to be surpassed.

The 2012/13 season will see the RE AFC commemorate its 150th anniversary with some high profile fixtures and events.  In July 2012, the RE AFC will play Gillingham FC at Prestfield Stadium and will also be participating in a pre-season tournament involvingChathamTown, West Bromwich Albion andNottinghamForest.