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A Brief history of Royal Marines Football by Historian Shaun Foster RMFA Manager 1999-2016

Articles in the Globe & Laurel magazine's show that the Royal Marine Light Infantry & Royal Marine Artillery were playing football in the late 1890’s with the earliest photograph on our site being a 1890 Royal Marine Artillery football team picture Sent in by Richard Sutton whose Grandfather Frederick Sutton is pictured in the photograph.  The biggest success story was when the Royal Marine Light Infantry (Gosport) won the double in 1910 winning both the Army Cup beating the 8th Royal Irish Fusiliers 2-0 and the FA Amateur Cup beating South Bank (Middlesbrough) 2-1, the Amateur Cup in those days attracted crowds of up to 100,000. The Amateur cup took a dent in 1969 when the FA introduced the FA Challenge Trophy & in 1974 when the FA Challenge Vase replaced the Amateur cup.

RMLI Football
Supplement to the "Globe and Laurel" 7th May, 1910
The victorious captain of the Royal Marine Light Infantry holding the Army Cup and the FA Amateur Cup

The Royal Marine Light Infantry & Royal Marine Artillery merged in 1923 to form the Corps of Royal Marines but in one of the final last acts on the football field they both met in the final of the 1922 Royal Navy Cup final when Royal Marine Artillery Eastney beat Royal Marine Light Infantry Plymouth 2-0 at Pitt Street Portsmouth. Royal Marine Light Infantry had won the Navy cup in 1920 when RMLI Chatham beat Royal Naval Base Devonport 3-0 at Fratton park Portsmouth and they also won it in 1923 just before merging with the Royal Marine Artillery when RMLI Chatham 4 (CSgt Hibben 4) beat HMS Vernon 0 at Fratton park Portsmouth on 11th April 1923.  Royal Marines Chatham played in the Kent league until 1950 and once reached the 3rd qualifying round of the FA cup in 1929 before losing out on a second replay. Royal Marines Portsmouth played in the Hampshire league from 1922/23 season until 1928.

On the 15th December 1928 on the parade ground of Portsmouth Division Royal Marines at Eastney Barracks Portsmouth, Capt J.J. Tunney USMC  presented General L. S. T. Halliday V.C., C.B., R.M., Adjutant General Royal Marines with the USMC Challenge Trophy more commonly known as "The Tunney Cup". This trophy is competed for by Royal Marine teams only and has run from 1929 to the present day.

1928 Gene Tunney USMC
December 15th 1928 Capt J.J. Tunney USMC  presented General L. S. T. Halliday V.C., C.B., R.M., Adjutant General Royal Marines with the USMC Challenge Trophy

It was not until 1962 that the Royal Marines were invited to play in the Royal Navy Inter Command Championships against other Commands from Portsmouth, Plymouth, Scotland, Air & Medway. The Royal Navy’s Inter Command tournament had run since 1905 and they must have regretted inviting the Royal Marines at the time as the Royal Marines beat Plymouth Command 3-2 in that first year & their record for their first ten years in the Competition read, reached the final 8 out of 10 times winning it 3 times in 1962, 1968 & 1970. The Royal Marines team went on to win the competition twice in the 70’s, four times in the 80’s, twice in the 90’s but in recent years they have really dominated the competition winning it 13 times since 1999 which included a record 7 times in a row from 2009 to 2015.

2009 Royal Marines Football

This 2009 Inter Command winning squad who beat Portsmouth Command 3-2 AET at HMS Temeraire Portsmouth started the ball running for a record 7 cup wins in a row from 2009 - 2015

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