Penalty Kicks – conceived in Sheffield and first awarded in England against Wednesday FC

Like much else in Association football the original concept originated in Sheffield as some kind of punishment for fouls that had caused a goal to be missed . The Sheffield solution was not to award a penalty kick but to award a penalty goal. The concept of a penalty goal for fouls within 2 yards of the goal was suggested at a Sheffield  Football Association meeting in 1879 :
‘.. if a player fouls the ball within 2 yards of his own goal and in the umpire’s opinion a goal would have been obtained but for such a foul, a goal shall be given against the defending side.’
It was discussed at a meeting 18th February 1879 and later rescinded :


Clearly it was felt that awarding a goal was too generous a response and it would be 12 years later before the first incarnation of the penalty kick was introduced on 2 June 1891 by the International Football Association Board.
The new penalty law required new pitch marking. Two lines were marked across the field, 12 and 18 yards from each goal line, replacing the semi-circles that had been in force since 1887. The penalty was not taken from a spot but anywhere along the 12-yard line until 1902. A penalty kick was awarded for offences occurring 12 yards from the goal line. The other players had to stand behind the ball and at least 6 yards from the kicker, as marked by the 18-yard line, when the kick took place.


An excellent explanation with diagram appeared in the Scottish Referee – Monday 03 August 1891



My research suggests that the first penalty ever awarded, was north of the border at a match between Abercorn and Port Glasgow Athletic on the 8th of August 1891. The referee ‘enforced the new football rule’ and Connell scored the first penalty for Abercorn; the referee clearly liked the new law and awarded two more in the same match.

The earliest awarded penalty kick I have found awarded in England was for Stockton FC against Wednesday FC on the 3rd September 1891 played in Stockton ‘but the new 12-yard rule was not properly enforced and nothing material resulted’. Wednesday still lost 3 -1 with the Sheffield consolation goal coming from Fred Spiksley.
Earliest penalty converted in any league?
Shankhouse FC scored a penalty kick against Southwick in the Northern Alliance on Saturday 5th of September 1891-with the unfortunate Callaghan handling the ball in front of the goal.
The Football League started on the 1st of September in 1891 but the first penalty kick was not awarded until 14 September 1891 to Wolverhampton Wanderers in their match against Accrington at Molineux Stadium on. The penalty was taken and scored by Heath as Wolves went on to win the game 5–0.
1902: The F.A. decided to award penalties for fouls committed in an area 18 yards from the goal line and 44 yards wide and created both the penalty box and penalty spot. Another box designated as the ‘goal area’,( commonly called the ‘six-yard-box’, six yards long and 20 wide), replaced the semi-circle in the goalmouth. As depicted in this great drawing :
1937: The ‘D’ shape was added to the edge of the penalty area.

Martin Westby’s  new book is available now A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889


Saturday 24 October 1857- A slow news day in Sheffield newspapers

160 years ago today Sheffield FC the world’s oldest football club was founded. There is of course no mention of the momentous events happening at Eastbank as organised by Creswick and Prest in the newspaper of the day. The biggest news of the day in the Sheffield Independent (when Sheffield FC) started was all about the H.R.H. Duke of Cambridge laying the foundation of the monument at the top of the Moor to commemorate the men of Sheffield who died in the Crimean war. When completed it was an impressive sight:

There have been campaigns in the past to restore the Crimean war memorial dubbed “Sheffield’s Nelson’s Column” to the city centre, which has been languishing in storage for more than a decade. It stood in Moorhead for a century but was removed in 1960 as part of a road scheme. After 50 years in Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens, without the column, the monument was removed on the condition that a new site was found within two years but that deadline has been and passed and it remains in storage.
Meanwhile on page 4 of the same edition of the 24th of October 1857 paper was a classified advert that does mention a famous name in respect of Sheffield FC:

Nathaniel Creswick senior had died two years earlier on the 22 November 1855 at the family home of Easthill House, Park and the firm of which he was a partner are selling some of their stock.


Easthill House (just a few hundred yards away from where Sheffield FC played their first games) was sold by Nathaniel Creswick junior in August 1872. See advert for the sale here:

Sheffield FC have had a long-standing dream move to play at the Sheffield Works Department Sports football pitch, which is just a few hundred metres from where they originally played at Eastbank in 1857 ( a piece of land currently occupied by the B&Q store on Queens Road). If the move happens the whole location will need development and perhaps the council could support the project by relocating the Sheffield Crimean monument to Sheffield FC’s new ground as a tribute to fallen Sheffield dead of the Crimean war and at the same time commemorate a famous date in Association football history – the 24th October 1857.

Martin Westby author of A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889 is giving a talk as part of the Off the Shelf Book Festival at the Creative Lounge at the Showroom Cinema, Paternoster Row on Wednesday 25 October 7.30pm. Tickets £6.00 (£5.00 concessions)

Available at the door on the night

Died 100 years ago today: Nathaniel Creswick the co-founder of the world’s oldest football club

Nathaniel Creswick 31st July 1831- 20th October 1917 Age 86. Died 100 years ago today

Co-founder of Sheffield FC, the world’s first and oldest Football Club was a solicitor and son of a silver plate manufacturer. Later in life he became Chairman of Joseph Rodgers the Cutlery manufacturer and saved a man’s life when he was aged 29. His family home was Easthill House a few hundred metres from Sheffield FC’s Eastbank ground and when it was sold in 1872 Nathaniel Creswick Junior acted as solicitor on the transaction of his father’s house (also called Nathaniel).

Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Saturday 31 August 1872


I cover Nathaniel Creswick’s sporting achievements and military career in greater depth in my book “A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom”

His obituary of 1917 talks in great depth about the military life and barely mentions his claim to football immortality




Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Monday 22 October 1917

When Creswick was aged 29 he saved a man from drowning and won a medal for his bravery.


Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Monday 31 December 1860

The image below is the sports day of the West Riding Brigade R.F.A. at Colonel Clifford’s residence in Whirlow on August 31st, 1912 where Creswick acts as judge aged 81 years old and this is the last known photograph I have been able to find of him.



(Clifford House was built in 1894 for the colliery owner Denys Hague. From 1915 the house was lived in by Charles Clifford chairman of the Telegraph and Star newspaper. Clifford House, on Ecclesall Road South has recently been sold to St Luke’s Hospice next door).

Creswick is buried at Heeley Parish Church see video in attachment below:

Martin Westby author of A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889 is giving a talk as part of the Off the Shelf Book Festival at the Creative Lounge at the Showroom Cinema, Paternoster Row on Wednesday 25 October 7.30pm. Tickets £6.00 (£5.00 concessions)

See four of the nine oldest Association Football Cups in the world (including the very first)

I am giving a talk as part of the Off the Shelf Book Festival on my new book called “A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom” at the Creative Lounge at the Showroom Cinema, Paternoster Row on Wednesday 25 October 7.30pm. You can book here:


The exciting news is that four of the nine oldest Association Football Cups in the world will be on display as part of the presentation. These cups represent the true artefacts of the Association football game and have never been in the same room at the same time before:
Youdan Cup 1867 – World’s Oldest Association Cup
Sheffield Association Challenge Cup 1876/77 – England’s first County Association Cup
Sheffield New Association Challenge Cup 1877/78- World’s 6th Oldest Association Cup
Wharncliffe Charity Challenge Cup 1878/79 – England’s first Charity Association Cup (Glasgow Cup started 1877)
Plus the Lewis Cup of 1892


(Pictured is the Sheffield Association Challenge Cup 1876/77)


The talk takes place the day after the 160th anniversary of the foundation of the world’s first football club – Sheffield FC and the hour-long talk will look at the four sole survivors of the 95 football clubs that existed in Sheffield in the period 1857 to 1889 and will feature maps, videos and statistics that are not currently in the public domain. After the talk we will open it up to a question and answer session and we hope to have official representatives from Sheffield FC, Hallam FC, Wednesday FC ,United and the Sheffield &Hallamshire County F.A. present, so that between us we should be able to answer any questions that you may have about the Victorian era of Sheffield football.


After the event I will be available to sign and dedicate my book “A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom” and it will be priced at just £10.00 instead of the usual £15.95.


Come and find out why Sheffield is the true home of Association football.


If you cannot attend and wish to purchase the book it is available here:


Read the reviews for the book.


The Sheffield & Hallamshire County F.A. Senior Challenge Cup 140th Anniversary

The year 2017 represents the 150th anniversary of the Sheffield Football Association. It was formed in 1867 when Sheffield had 14 football clubs and in excess of 1,000 members and bolstered the struggling London Football Association at a crucial time, who in the same year, were discussing their dissolution because of the lack of interest from London clubs to play by their 1863 laws.
The Sheffield Football Association was the first County Football Association and it is not only their 150th birthday this year but also its 130th anniversary as the Sheffield and Hallamshire Association(the two organisations merged in 1887).
The Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA Senior Challenge Cup is the joint oldest cup competition being run by a County Football Association, sharing this accolade with Birmingham County FA.

The first Senior Challenge Cup was won by The Wednesday back in 1877 at Bramall Lane so this years final will be the 140th anniversary of this historic trophy. The 2016/17 ‘Senior Challenge Cup winners were Shaw Lane FC who beat the 2015/16 winners Frickley Athletic FC. If Frickley were to win it this year they would take over Sheffield Wednesday as the team with the most wins:
14 wins – Sheffield Wednesday, Frickley Athletic
12 wins – Worksop Town
10 wins – Sheffield United
8 wins – Emley
6 wins – Stocksbridge Park Steels
5 wins – Denaby United, Sheffield FC
4 wins – Doncaster Rovers, Hallam FC, Mexborough Town
Sheffield FC were the Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup Winners in:
1993/94, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2007/08, 2009/10
Hallam Fc were the Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup Winners in:
1950/51, 1961/62, 1964/65, 1967/68
Over the 140 years of the tournament 137 competitions have been run with only 3 being cancelled due to the First World War. It continued throughout the Second World War and the Royal Army Service Corps won it twice in that period.
There are 38 entries in the 2017/18 Senior Challenge Cup for this season
Hallam FC have a bye in the first round but Sheffield FC play Rossington Main FC tomorrow on Tuesday 10th at the Coach and Horses ground in the first round.
Rossington Main FC are a Doncaster team formed in 1919 as Rossington Colliery FC.

A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom –

Martin Westby author of A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889 is giving a talk as part of the Off the Shelf Book Festival at the Creative Lounge at the Showroom Cinema, Paternoster Row on Wednesday 25 October 7.30pm. Tickets £6.00 (£5.00 concessions)

The 2017/18 Sheffield Senior Challenge Cup in association with BlueFin

There are 38 entries in the 2017/18 Senior Challenge Cup . The 140th anniversary of the tournament that began in 1877.

AFC Bentley First (bye)
AFC Brodsworth Welfare First
AFC Emley First (bye)
Athersley Recreation F.C.(Sat) First (bye)
Denaby Main JFC (Adult) First
Denaby United First (bye)
Dinnington Town F.C. (2014) First (bye)
Frecheville C.A. First (bye)
Frickley Athletic FC First (bye)
Grimethorpe Sports First (bye)
Hall Green United F.C. (Saturday) First
Hallam F.C. (Mens) First (bye)
Handsworth Parramore First (bye)
Harworth Colliery (Saturday) First
Hemsworth Miners Welfare FC(Sat) First (bye)
Houghton Main First (bye)
Jubilee Sports First (bye)
Maltby Main First (bye)
Millmoor Juniors FC (Mens Saturday) Firs (bye)
North Gawber Colliery (Saturday) First (bye)
Nostell M.W. F.C. (Saturday) First
Oughtibridge W.M.S.C. First (bye)
Parkgate First (bye)
Penistone Church First (bye)
Phoenix F.C. (Saturday) First
Renishaw Rangers (Saturday) Saturday Sid (bye)
Rossington Main F.C. (SAT) First
Shaw Lane Association FC First (bye)
Sheffield FC First
Shelley First (bye)
South Kirkby Colliery (SAT) First (bye)
Staveley Miners Welfare First (bye)
Stocksbridge Park Steels FC First
Swallownest (Saturday) FC First (bye)
Swinton Athletic First
Wombwell Main F.C. (Saturday) First (bye)
Worksop Town FC First
Worsbrough Bridge Athletic FC First


A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom

Link to book page –

Charles Stokes: Sheffield football’s most famous man that you’ve probably never heard of

The vast majority of Sheffield football fans would immediately recognise the name of Charles Clegg ( But what about Charles Stokes? -who died 104 years ago today. A football administrator par excellence who was around at the birth of most of Sheffield’s football institutions and is single-handedly responsible for the creation of Sheffield United. Until two years ago he was Sheffield United’s longest ever serving Chairman but that accolade now belongs to current Honorary Chairman, Kevin McCabe.
Charles Stokes was born on the 30th December 1847 and died 8th October 1913 and is buried in Sheffield General Cemetery, off Ecclesall Road.He was Sheffield’s first dentist in 1864 and lived and ran dental surgeries on London Road for most of his life. He had various dental establishments throughout his career, working at number 192 in 1881 and number 78 in 1901 and bought number 240 London Road when it was built. His son Percy picked up the drill after his father’s death and 240 London Road is still a dentist today. He was also a high mover in the Freemasonry world, becoming a Grand Deacon of England and this photo from Tapton Hall shows him in his finery.

That is already quite a C.V. before we even get to his football achievements. He joined Heeley FC aged 16 and eventually became the club’s President. He was also Hon. Sec. of Milton FC and a prominent member of Broomhall FC.
(Much more information on these early Sheffield football clubs is contained in A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889… ‘Speed, Science and Bottom ‘ )
At age 20 he attended the foundation of the Sheffield Football Association in 1867 and was also on the committee that helped form Wednesday Football Club in September 1867. But it was at age 42 that his most famous moment came when he was the prime force behind the creation of Sheffield United.
An F.A. Cup quarter final at Bramall Lane in the 1888/89 season was the catalyst that created Sheffield United FC. On March 16th, 1889 a record crowd filled Bramall Lane for the semi-final between West Bromwich Albion FC and Preston North End FC. The crowd spilled onto the pitch regularly and the final attendance was said to be in excess of 22,000. As a member of the Sheffield United Cricket Club committee, Charles Stokes saw the potential for a new Sheffield professional club to play full time at Bramall Lane. Seven days later on the 23rd March 1889 a notice appeared in the Sheffield press:
“Sheffield United Cricket Club. The committee have decided to form a FOOTBALL CLUB for next season, for Bramall Lane ground. Professionals may send testimonials and on or before, March 30th to Mr. J.B. Wostinholme, 10 Norfolk Row.”
It was in his obituary of October 1913 that the detail and involvement of Charles Stokes became apparent:
‘A member of the Bramall Lane Ground Committee in the old days when football at that classic enclosure was not regarded so favourably as it is today; the formation of the United was due to him more than to any other man and football enthusiasts nowadays may be surprised to learn that is was only by a majority of one that the Ground Committee at the special meeting, which Mr Stokes in his enthusiasm was mainly instrumental in calling, decided to form a football club at Bramall Lane -an enterprise which was no doubt encouraged by the success that had attended the efforts of the Wednesday club when they went in for professionalism and opened the old Olive Grove ground.’
His importance to the Blades was also recognised in life when he became Sheffield United FC Chairman in the 1896/97 season when the clubs first chairman M.J. Ellison died. He remained chairman for a total of 18 seasons until he died 104 years ago today.
Sheffield United Chairmen since inception:
M.J. Ellison 1889- 1896 -7 years
Charles Stokes 1896 – 1913 – 18 years
Tom Bott 1913-1920-3 years
Joseph Smith 1920 – 1 year
Walter Sissons 1921- 1930-9 years
Alfred Cattell 1930-1933 – 3 years
Albert Platt 1933- 1949 -16 years
George Marlow 1949- 1953-4 years
Frank Copestake 1953-1955- 2 years
E. Senior Atkin 1955-1957- 2 years
H. Blacow Yates 1957-1961 -4 years
Dick Wragg 1961 -1976- 15 years
John Hassall 1976 -1981- 5 years
Reg Brealey 1981- 1991- 10 years
Paul Woolhouse 1991- 1993-2 years
Reg Brealey 1993- 1996 = 3+ 10 = 13 years
Mike McDonald 1996-1997- 1 year
Kevin McCabe 1998 -2017 – 19 years
(In November 2010, Kevin McCabe announced that he would be stepping down as chairman of the club, to be replaced by vice-chairman Chris Steer, who would take over as chairman in December; however, McCabe remained the owner and Chairman of Sheffield United PLC, the business side of the club and is today his title is Honorary Chairman.)
Martin Westby author of A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889 is giving a talk as part of the Off the Shelf Book Festival at the Creative Lounge at the Showroom Cinema, Paternoster Row on Wednesday 25 October 7.30pm. Tickets £6.00 (£5.00 concessions)

Sheffield FC up for the FA Trophy in their 160th season

Sheffield FC play Frickley Athletic on the 7th October in the FA Trophy and if they can win then they will be through to the ‘First Round Qualifying’ to meet Ashton United. Winning those two games would generate a very welcome £6,250.00 for Sheffield FC. You can see from the table below that the money provided by the F.A.’s Prize Fund can soon mount up if a club goes on a good run.

Preliminary Round winners (64) £3,000
First Round Qualifying winners (72) £3,250
Second Round Qualifying winner (36) £4,000
Third Round Qualifying winners (40) £5,000
First Round Proper winners (32) £6,000
Second Round Proper winners (16) £7,000
Third Round Proper winners (8) £8,000
Fourth Round Proper winners (4) £10,000
Semi-Final winners               (2) £20,000
Final runners-up               (1) £30,000
Final winners                     (1) £60,000
(Amounts are per club in each round. Numbers in brackets represent the number of winning clubs per round.)
The FA Trophy was introduced in the 1969/70 season for semi-professional clubs to run alongside the Amateur Cup, but with the abolition of amateur status in 1974 the better teams of the Amateur Cup turned their attentions to the FA Trophy whilst the teams from the lower levels entered the new FA Vase tournament. From 2008 it was opened up to all clubs in pyramid levels between five and eight.

The original FA Amateur Cup was first suggested as an idea by Sheffield FC back in 1892 and such was their strength of feeling about the surge of professionalism taking over the game they even offered to pay for the actual cup. The FA initially resisted but the idea was instigated in the following year and the first winners were the Old Carthusians FC.
Sheffield FC’s finest hour came in the 1903/04 season when they won the trophy for the first and last time by beating Ealing by 3 goals to one. It was appropriate that Charles Alcock who knew all about Sheffield FC’s enormous contribution to Association football presented the trophy that day. In his speech he said:
‘I can only say that it is a personal pleasure to hand the cup to the Sheffield club, especially when I recall its long and unique history in association football. When it was formed in 1855* there was no other football club existing in England and when, in 1872, the Football Association Cup was instituted, and the ‘old pot’ was fought for, Sheffield club as I can testify made up a considerable power in the competition. It has always been actuated by the highest principles in football and in amateurism and has always been intensely loyal to the association.’

It would certainly be a good way for Sheffield FC to celebrate their 160th season if they could replicate their victory from 113 years ago and win the cup a second time; starting with a victory over Frickley Athletic on Saturday. Whilst we are being nostalgic about Victorian football how about if the that final victory could be over the Corinthian Casuals FC at Wembley stadium on the 20th May 2018?
With the international break interrupting the Championship fixtures of United and Wednesday, why not get over to Coach and Horses and shout for your home town team this coming Saturday?
*Alcock had a habit of getting the foundation date of Sheffield FC wrong throughout his career.

New book out now : A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889 : Speed, Science and Bottom

Martin Westby author of A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889 is giving a talk as part of the Off the Shelf Book Festival at the Creative Lounge at the Showroom Cinema, Paternoster Row on Wednesday 25 October 7.30pm. Tickets £6.00 (£5.00 concessions)

Try the Goal Soul and Sheffield FC shop at Hunter’s Bar

Called in and had a chat with Cristian at the Goal Soul shop and if you have not yet been I strongly recommend a visit. The store is joint venture partnership between Sheffield F.C. and Goalsoul. It is born out of a genuine desire to promote the city’s unique heritage and celebrate the ongoing evolution of the world’s most beautiful game of all. You’ll find a wide range of collectables, apparel, art and official club merchandise – gifts for all seasons.

I’m proud to say that they now also stock my new book: A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom

Website :





If its not too early to mention it – this is a great place to go and buy all the necessary Christmas presents for the football loving people in your life.

128 years ago today – Sheffield United play for the first time at Bramall Lane

Following their win against Wolves last night Sheffield United have now won 7 of their 10 Championship games this season and sit second in the League table. In fact there is no club in any of the four leagues who can match United’s win rate, if you start counting from the beginning of last season.
128 years ago their start could not be any more disappointing.United’s first game at Bramall Lane did not come until 28 September 1889 against Birmingham St George’s of the Football Alliance which they lost 4–0. They had been formed on the 22nd of March and had played a practice match Hallam FC ground on the 20th August. United played its first competitive game against Notts. Rangers FC, of the Midland Counties League, on 7 September 1889, losing 4–1 at Meadow Lane; W. Robertson from Dundee, scored United’s first ever competitive goal. Following this game Heeley FC was chosen to be the first Sheffield opponents and this match was played on the Sheaf House ground. United won 2-1, the two goals coming from James Duncan and S. Mack , and the game was watched by 2,200 spectators.
More information on the foundation of Sheffield United in my new book :’A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom’
Having battled through four qualifying rounds of the F.A. Cup in its first season United beat Burnley 2-1 in the first round proper but was drawn against another powerful Lancashire club, Bolton Wanderers FC, who won by thirteen clear goals; this remains United’s heaviest ever defeat. Some compensation was gained from being the losing finalist in the replayed final of the Sheffield Association Challenge Cup with Rotherham Town winning by a goal to nil, a game played at the ground of the Rotherham Swifts. In spite of not belonging to an organised League in the first season, United played a total of fifty-seven friendlies and Cup games.