This weekend a Gala Dinner will be held at the Grand Connaught Rooms to mark The Football Association's 150th birthday.

It will be a very special gathering at the very site on the very day that, 150 years ago, football as the world knows it actually began.

It was at that same location, on 26 October 1863, that Ebenezer Morley came together with some like-minded men to draw up a set of rules that would lead to the foundation of The FA and with it the very first Laws of the Game. As historic moments go, coming a month before Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and on the very same day as the International Red Cross was founded, it should never be forgotten.

For all the Founding Fathers' vision and clarity of thought even they could surely never have imagined how football would evolve over generations, how it would travel unconstrained across all four corners of the globe and how their 13 original laws would pave the way for a sport to be played and watched by billions from every walk of life in every part of the world.

Without that pivotal moment when association football first took shape in what was then the humble setting of the Freemasons' Tavern, we would not have The FA Cup, The Premier League, the UEFA Champions League or the FIFA World Cup.

True, we might still have the simple pleasure of seeing two sides playing a haphazard kicking game or of a group of kids knocking something shaped like a ball around in the park. But, without the organisation provided by Morley and Co, football could well have followed a different, much less auspicious path.

We should be extremely grateful for what those people created in that London pub on that momentous day.

Certainly all of us owe them much. The phrase football family is often used these days but whether we are players, fans, managers, officials; or journalists, volunteers, administrators, leaders - we all owe a debt to those visionaries.

In many ways this weekend's event is once again a simple FA meeting, just like the first one. It is convened in the same spirit and we can further that by also embracing the ideals of the very first match. That opening FA fixture in December 1863 kicked off with a simple toast - success to football, irrespective of class and creed. How fitting.

In recognition of such a profound and pervading message, we have come together exactly 150 years on to say thanks to those who went before and to look positively to the future. So for now, at least, let us celebrate The FA's trail-blazers and recognise what they achieved.

It is a simple sport that has done so much to promote inclusion, bring people and nations together, keep us active and alive and a sport which, above all, provides us with moments of comradeship, exhilaration and elation to be found nowhere else.

Even in our contrasting lowest moments of defeat and despair, football allows us to feel emotion and a sense of belonging.

It is a sport that speaks of romance and realism in equal measure.

It is the beautiful game and it binds us all together.

Greg Dyke
FA Chairman