British Olympic Football Team
Known most commonly as Team GB, the Great Britain Olympic Football Team is the footy club that will represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. This team also represents GB in other international competitions, but for the Olympics in general, the entire team—except three players—is comprised totally of players less than 23 years of age.
There is a long and storied history behind Team GB. From its inception when controlled by the English Football Association and its origins as an offshoot of the English amateur club, to its reformation to compete in this year’s Summer Games, Team GB has seen its shares of ups and downs.
Although Wales, Scotland, Ireland and England are all under the United Kingdom banner, there has never been a United Kingdom football club. Instead, in the late 1800s, there were various associations, such as The Football Association (FA), the Scottish Football Association (SFA), the Football Association of Wales, and the Irish Football Association (IFA). So in 1900 at the Olympics, when football was held as just a demonstration sport, Upton Park was the team that ended up representing the UK. They won gold.
In 1908, the first football tournament was held in the Olympics. Oddly enough, that Olympic Games also took place in London, and Great Britain, organized by the FA, defeated Sweden and the Netherlands teams to advance to the finals against Denmark, where they would win 2-0.
Four years later, at the 1912 Games, Team GB would win all three matches again, playing Denmark in the final for the second Olympics in a row, and would win 4-2 to secure their second Gold Medal. But this was the bright spot of the Great Britain footballers. From this point, calamity would ensue and Team GB would withdraw from the 1924 and 1928 games over disputes. (Footy fans aren’t too disappointed about this. This dispute is what led to the creation of the FIFA World Cup.)
Team GB competed from 1948 until 1972, but they would never win another gold medal; in fact, Team GB failed to even quality for the Olympic Games at all after 1960. Then, in 1972, the Olympics relaxed their standards, allowing professionals to compete. But even though Team GB could compile a team of great players for competition, they would not enter another national team into Olympic competition. They came close to entering a team in 2008, but they never entered.
After London won its bid to host the 2012 Games, one of the perks of hosting is that the host nation gets to enter a team in the tournament. This, of course, led to the reformation of Team GB. It wasn’t easy, though. Scotland and Wales didn’t approve of which team should host; but at the end of it all, the FA won out and announced that Team GB would be competing. The team will play three matches, at Manchester, London and Cardiff.
- 1900 Olympic Games: Upton Park – Gold
- 1908 Olympic Games – Gold
- 1912 Olympic Games – Gold