Nicholas Lane, better known as NL or “Pa” Jackson was born in Newton Abbot, Devon in November 1849 and is one of the great figures of the early development of football. He became a well known sports journalist and editor, and joined the Football Association committee in 1879. In 1874 he had founded The Finchley Football Club, although it’s not known whether at any time he was a player. He founded the original Corinthian Football Club in 1882 to bring together the best University and Public School players while at the time serving as the Assistant Honorary Secretary of the Football Association. The Corinthian club rules forbid competing in any cup competition or for any prize.
During the early 1880’s, Jackson led the fight within the Football Association to stem the advancing tide of veiled professionalism in the North of England. When nineteen prominent Lancashire clubs threatened to resign and form a breakaway ‘British Football Association’ it was realised the only way to control professionalism was to legalise it under stringent conditions. This the Football Association did in July 1885, and it was Jackson who seconded the proposal.
The reason we talk of an international player being ‘capped’ for England originates back to N. L. Jackson whose idea it was in 1886 that the players receive a cap. For a number of years he was on the international selection committee. Also in 1886, the pro professional northern representatives of the Football Association, who were fed up with Jackson’s hackneyed backward views, managed to gain control and he was not re-elected to the F.A. Council. Jackson and other sympathisers were allowed back onto the Council but one by one, they disassociated themselves with the F.A. With obstacles removed, the way was now open to form the Football League in 1888. Jackson wrote “Previously the members (of the Football Association) were mostly gentlemen….there gradually crept in a class of men who followed football as a business quite as much as professional footballers themselves”. From 1887, he concentrated on representing the London Association on the F.A. Council.
He resigned from his position as a Vice-President of the F.A. in 1897. He also published several early books on football. But there is no doubt that in founding The Corinthians he had a profound effect of football as a sport all the way through to the 1920’s, when eventually the participation of their players for example in the England international team began to wane.