PAOK FC is the main and oldest division of PAOK Sports Club, the historical continuation of Hermes Sports Club (Greek: Ερμής), which was formed in 1875 by the Greek community of Pera, a district of Constantinople.
It was the need of Constantinople's Greek residents to express and support their Greek spirit within Turkey that led to the creation of the club. The sports club established itself in the first few years of the 20th century, proving that although the Greeks were a minority they could boast a strong presence in the sporting sector.
That situation, however, came to an abrupt end after the Asia Minor Catastrophe, when most players were forced to emigrate to Greece due to the population exchanges. Left behind was a club consisting of the residents that remained (later called Politakia). Those who fled settled in Thessaloniki and established PAOK in 1926. Stretching back to the 19th century, these roots effectively establish PAOK FC one of Greece's oldest athletic clubs.
The club's first charter was approved on 20 April 1926 by means of decision of the Thessaloniki Court of First Instance (No. 822). PAOK's first emblem, adopted in 1926 was a four-leaved clover and a horseshoe. The leaves were green with the letters PAOK marked on each of them, a symbol devised by Kostas Koemtzopoulos (president of Pera Club) who took the idea from the brand of cigarettes he smoked.
The club's founding members were:
T. Triantafyllidis (1st Chairman), F. Vyzantinos (2nd Chairman), A. Angelopoulos, A. Athanasiadis, K. Anagnostidis, M. Ventourellis, A. Dimitriadis, D. Dimitriadis, N. Zoumboulidis, M. Theodosiadis, T. Ioakimopoulos, P. Kalpaktsoglou, T. Kartsambekis, D. Koemtzopoulos, K. Koemtzopoulos, P. Kontopoulos, K. Kritikos, M. Konstantinidis, P. Maletskas, I. Nikolaidis, L. Papadopoulos, F. Samantzopoulos, T. Tsoulkas, M. Tsoulkas, S. Triantafyllidis
 1926–1953 – The early years
After two months of preparation by the team following the club's establishment, it was decided that the team should compete against the other teams in Thessaloniki. The first match of the club was a win against Iraklis on 26 July 1925 by 2–1. Two weeks later, PAOK lost 5–2 to their arch rivals, Aris.
The vision of the club's founders and the whole PAOK community of establishing a home ground became reality in 1928 following much effort and thus on December 12, 1930 the Syntrivaniou Football Ground was officially opened. This was followed by a friendly match against Aris with PAOK winning 2–1.
The first professional contract was a document of historic importance. It was signed by the Club on 5 September 1928. The contract stipulated that the footballer Etien who had come from the Constantinople club Peraclub would be paid 4,000 drachmas per month. The contract was signed by Dr. Meletiou (PAOK Chairman) and Mr. Sakellaropoulos, Hon. Secretary.
Until 20 March 1929, the two clubs were rivals, competing against each other although both had been established by refugees from Constantinople. It was the Chairman of AEK Thessaloniki's which had been established in 1924–25 by the first wave of refugees who had come to Thessaloniki from Constantinople in 1922, Dr. Musa, who brokered the merger between Thessaloniki's two refugee teams.
Following the merger with AEK Thessaloniki's in 1929, PAOK changed its emblem. The new emblem became the double-headed eagle, which it remains to this day, indicating the heritage of the refugees (Constantinople). The difference between the PAOK eagle and the Byzantine eagle is that PAOK's emblem has its wings folded and the colors are black and white, signifying mourning for expulsion from the homeland.
The first foreign coach in the history of the team was the German Rudolph Ganser, who served with PAOK for the 1931–32 season.
Following World War II and the German occupation of Greece, the team known as the "Two-Headed Eagle of the North" entered upon a shining chapter in its career starting at the beginning of the 1950s. Willi Sevcik, an Austrian coach (1950–1952) who had worn the PAOK jersey in 1931–32, established a young talent academy within the club which gave rise to leading names who later left their mark, such as Leandros, Symeonidis, Giannelos, Margaritis, Giorgos Havanidis, and others.
 1953–1970 – Recognition
1953 marked the beginning of PAOK's golden age. During the summer transfer period, Kouiroukidis, Petridis, Progios, Geroudis, Kemanidis, Hourvouliadis, Hasiotis and Angelidis all joined the club. PAOK became all-powerful, winning the Thessaloniki championship for three successive years and becoming a worthy representative of Greece's second largest city in the national championship.
In 1957, the club managers envisioned a new football ground worthy of the team's performance since the old ground had been annexed by the state. The search for a site led to the choice of a piece of land belonging to the National Defence Fund in the Toumba neighbourhood of eastern Thessaloniki, which in addition to offering unlimited free space was also an area closely associated with refugees from Asia Minor. A total area of 30,000 x2 was acquired by PAOK for a significant price, and construction of the new football ground began. Lottery tickets were even issued to aid construction of the new stadium, which was eventually opened on 6 September 1959 by the Minister of National Defence, Mr. G. Themelis. Before the first kick-off, an Air Force plane dropped a ball on a fly-past as a symbolic donation from the armed forces. Thanks to its new, large football ground, PAOK was ready to start a brilliant career which has lasted to this day, starting with the First Division established in October 1959.
At the opening of the 1st Division's first championship on 25 October 1959, PAOK welcomed the Katerini team Megas Alexandros, beating them 3–1. The team line-up was as follows: Zarko Mihailović (Serbian) and Progios, Hasiotis, Raptopoulos, Giannelos, Kemanidis, Havanidis, Leandros, Kiourtzis, Kouiroukidis, Salousto and Nikolaidis.
The success of the 1950s was followed by a decade of average performance during the 60's. One could say that it was as if the club was building up its strength to unleash it during the next decade.
 1970–1985 – The golden years
The team became established as one of the best ever to play at Greek football grounds with players whose names became legendary for the Greek football. It was a team which set several records, led by the legendary president Giorgos Pantelakis.
PAOK managed to strike a blow to the traditional football powers of Athens, winning the Championship in 1976, preceded by triumphs in the Cup, in 1972 and 1974. 1976 also marked the foundation of Gate 4, PAOK's first organized fanbase.
Up to 1974, while Greece was governed by a military junta, PAOK had not only a football power, but also an anti-dictatorship symbol of sorts, and Toumba stadium became a harbor of fan anti-junta slogans.
PAOK's excellent performance continued during the early 1980s, with the club being one of the regular title contenders. The highest point came in 1985, when the club won its second Greek Championship, its first trophy since Greek football became professional. Another characteristic of the 1980s was the ever-growing fanaticism of the fans, which reached levels of hooliganism never seen before, and began to move beyond Greece's borders, spurring the creation of fanbases in cities all over Europe by the Greek diaspora. However, the obsession shown by fans also had its downside, translating in quite a few cases into outbreaks of violence which entailed penalties and fines being imposed on the club.
At the European level, the club made its best performance ever, qualifying for the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1973–74, where they were knocked out by the Italian team Milan. PAOK also made a memorable appearance against German giants Bayern Munich in 1981, where it was knocked out on penalties after two goaless draws.