Sheffield’s footballing heritage is unrivalled anywhere in the world. The Steel City is the birthplace of the beautiful game. It has a string of firsts associated with the development of the modern game. Sheffield were pioneers in giving the world its most popular spectator sport.
It is home – as you’d expect – to the oldest club on the planet, Sheffield FC. The legendary club was founded on October 24th, 1857, by Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest. The two sporting pioneers didn’t leave it there. They also wrote the first set of rules and laws for the fledgling game (1858). Sheffield FC itself shaped much of the modern game. They argued that the ball should not be carried by hand which resulted in the divergence of football and rugby. They called time on hacking (kicking of legs) whilst introducing the cross-bar, throw in, free-kick, 11-a-side and 90 minute games.
Sheffield also boasts the world’s second oldest club – Hallam FC. Formed in 1860, the club has its own first in the shape of the oldest ground – Sandygate – and also won the world’s first football tournament in 1867. The first football ‘derby’ was played in the Steel City on Boxing Day, 1860. The match was between Sheffield FC V Hallam FC.
Sheffield is home to the oldest major professional football ground in the world. Bramall Lane is also one of only two stadiums in the world to have hosted both the FA Cup final and a cricket test match. The other is The Oval in London. Bramall Lane’s record breaking honours don’t stop there. It also hosted the first floodlit match in 1878. The first game was played at the ground as long ago as in 1862.
Sheffield and Hallamshire FA was formed in 1867 – it became the first area association in the country. The first insurance scheme was introduced for footballers in the same year.
Sheffield played Glasgow in 1874 – this was recognised as the first international. The game was played at Bramall Lane and resulted in a 2-2 draw.
The Clegg Shield was the world’s first inter-school’s trophy. Alderman W.S. Clegg presented it for the first time in 1889 for a football competition for elementary schools.
The first radio broadcast of a football game was between Sheffield United and Arsenal – it was played out in 1927.
The Sheffield Football Story Timeline
A Brief List of Sheffield’s Footballing Firsts:
- Club – Sheffield FC
- Ground – Sandygate
- Tournament – The Youdan Trophy
- Professional Ground – Bramall Lane
- Floodlit Match – Bramall Lane
- International Match – Sheffield V Glasgow
- Premier League Goal Scorer – Brian Deane, Sheffield United
- First use of crossbar
- First use of corner kicks
- The Original set of rules
World Cups, Champions League, MLS etc. can all trace their roots back to Sheffield.