Charles William Alcock was born in Sunderland on 2nd December, 1842. Alcock was educated at Harrow School and at this time public schools were pioneering the game of football. At the age of seventeen he helped form the Forest football club.
In October, 1963, Alcock helped establish the Football Association. The aim of the FA was to establish a single unifying code for football. The first meeting took place at the Freeman's Tavern in London.
Alcock played for Forest and later the Wanderers. He was also the person responsible for compiling the first Football Annual in 1868. He was also a keen cricketer and played for Surrey, Essex and MCC.
In 1870 Alcock became secretary of the Football Association. The following year Alcock announced the introduction of the Football Association Challenge Cup. It was the first knockout competition of its type in the world. Only 15 clubs took part in the first staging of the tournament. It included two clubs based in Scotland, Donington School and Queen's Park.
Wanderers and the Royal Engineers were the two clubs that reached the final. Alcock played at right back for the Wanderers and his team won the game in front of 2,000 spectators at the Kennington Oval, 1-0. Therefore, the man who organized the competition, won a cup-winners medal.
Charles Alcock and and Arthur Kinnaird, his friend from Cambridge University, who had been born in Scotland, arranged the first international football game to be played on the 30th November, 1872. Alcock took a team of English born players to play against a team from Scotland. The match, played in Glasgow, ended in a 0-0 draw. Alcock, who was suffering from a thigh injury, acted as an umpire in the game. The main objective was to publicize the game of football in Scotland. It had the desired effect and the following year the Scottish Football Association was formed and the England-Scotland match became an annual fixture.
Although a talented footballer, Alcock did not win his first international cap for England until 1875. Alcock scored one of the goals in the 2-2 draw against Scotland. However, now aged 33 years old, he never played for his country again. He now became a referee and took charge of the 1875 and 1879 Cup Finals.
Alcock now concentrated on his job at the Football Association. In this role he ensured the success of football. As he pointed out: "What was ten or fifteen years ago the recreation of a few has now become the pursuit of thousands. An athletic exercise carried on under a strict system and in many cases by an enforced term of training, almost magnified into a profession."
Alcock held the post as FA Secretary until 1895. He also served as Honorary Treasurer and Vice President of the FA.
Alcock was secretary of Surrey Cricket Club (1872-1907) and edited the Cricketers' Annual for over 28 years.
Charles William Alcock died on 26th February, 1907, and is buried in West Norwood Cemetery in London.