Sheffield United FC played their first competitive game 128 years ago today

United played their 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. The first ever United match at Bramall Lane on the 28th September against Birmingham St. George FC, ended badly with a 4-0 defeat, watched by 4,000 spectators.

(There is much more detail on United’s early history in my newly released book A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom )

Because United did not belong to a specific league in 1889 the vast majority of the games were friendlies, but they did enter the FA Cup and after navigating four qualifying rounds against Scarborough FC, Heeley FC, Sheffield FC, and Rotherham Town they met and beat Burnley FC in the first round. The second-round match away at Bolton Wanderers FC represents United’s darkest ever day when they experienced their worst ever defeat by thirteen goals to nil on 1st February 1890. The initial draw had been for a home tie at Bramall Lane but the United committee took ‘£40 or £50’ to switch the match to Lancashire. With United playing the Trotters next Tuesday an away win could help make recompense for this ancient black mark.

According to Denis Clarebrough and Andrew Kirkham’s book- ‘Sheffield United Who’s Who’, Howlett, the United goalkeeper who had poor eyesight, lost his glasses early on in the game and spent much of the match searching for them in the muddy goal mouth. Charlie Howlett from Gainsborough Trinity FC was one of five local professionals, who answered United’s advert placed when the club was formed in March 1889:

“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.”

Charlie Howlett stayed with United for five seasons until he returned to his previous club  Gainsborough Trinity FC, where he played for another nine seasons before retiring.

They had much greater success in the Sheffield FA Challenge Cup making the final in their first season without conceeding a single goal against Exchange FC, Heeley FC, Attercliffe FC and Staveley FC in the early rounds. They played Rotherham Town in the final at Bramall Lane in a match that ended in a goaless draw and United eventually lost by a single goal in the replay played at The Holmes, Rotherham.

Sheffield Wednesday FC’s 150-year-old football history started with a less than punishing schedule

Sheffield Wednesday celebrate their 150th birthday next week and face a more challenging match schedule than their forefathers. Whilst modern day Wednesday FC will have completed more than thirty matches by Valentine’s Day next year, their founding fathers had an easier schedule of just seven games over a similar period. The lack of matches clearly didn’t detract from their performance with their seventh match culminating in the club’s first trophy; the Cromwell Cup.
(There is much more detail on the Cromwell Cup and Wednesday’s early history in my newly released book A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom )
Let’s start at the beginning. In an earlier blog, I discussed whether Wednesday’s actual foundation date is the 4th or the 5th of September ( but it still took until the 19th of October 1867 to play their first ever match against a team called United. (No, not that United but the United Mechanics FC who had been formed in 1865 from well-to-do engineers from various Sheffield firms.)
They maintained a leisurely one match per month schedule (Heeley FC in November, Dronfield FC in December and Heeley again in January 1868) and they finally played a competitive match on the 1st of February against Exchange FC in the semi-final of the Cromwell Cup. Only four teams entered the tournament with Garrick FC and Wellington FC contesting the other semi-final, with Wednesday and Garrick meeting in the final on the 15th February 1868. Wednesday won by one goal over the much-fancied Garrick FC to claim the world’s second oldest Association football trophy (after the Youdan Cup of 1867 (See )
I am told that the cup is currently on display in Mr Dejphon Chansiri’s (Club owner) office.
Why not join in Wednesday FC’s birthday celebration this Sunday (3rd September) at the Owls in the Park event where I will be selling my book at a special discount on stall 15.

Football Bucket List Number One: Sheffield FC versus Hallam FC

Not doing anything on Sunday afternoon?

Then go and see these two aristocrats of Association football play a match that was first played 157 years ago. (It may have even taken place earlier than 1860 as I hypothesise in “A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom” -see

Sheffield FC had been playing football since October 24th, 1857; initially playing internal matches during the winter to maintain their fitness in anticipation of athletics during the summer months. They eventually found an external team to play football against in December 1858 when they played and beat the locally garrisoned 58th regiment at the barrack ground at Hillsborough. It was probably at this game that Sheffield FC first picked up the concept of rouge scoring from the Eton educated officers. They played and beat the same team again in December 17th, 1860, but the historical ‘first derby’ match against Hallam and Stumperlow was played nine days later on Boxing Day 1860.

“Sheffield Football Club v Hallam and Stumperlowe Clubs – this match was played on Wednesday upon the Hallam Cricket ground in the presence of a large number of spectators. Owing to the severe weather several players were absent from each side, but the spirit exhibited by those who were present prevented the game from flagging or becoming uninteresting to the observers, who were extremely liberal with their plaudits on the successful ‘charge’ or quiet ‘dodge’, and equally unsparing in their sarcasm and country ‘chaff’ on the unfortunate victims of the slippery ground or the ‘pure’ scientific. The day was beautiful and the ‘uniform’ of the men contrasting with each other and the pure snow had a most picturesque appearance. The Sheffielders turned out in their usual scarlet and white, whilst most of the country players wore the blue garment of the Hallam Club. It would be invidious to pick out the play of any particular gentlemen when all did well, but we must give the palm to the Sheffield players as being the most scientific and also more alive to the advantage of upsetting their opponent. No serious accidents, however, occurred – the game was conducted with good temper and in a friendly spirit – and when darkness closed upon the scene, the Sheffield club, notwithstanding their inferior numbers, counted two goals to nothing, and went home fully satisfied with their victory.”

Elsewhere a short-lived Liverpool FC had played a game resembling what would become Rugby in November 1857 and down south the Alcock brothers fresh from Harrow school had started Forest FC in 1859 (later the Wanderers FC). They too struggled for early opponents; playing Mincing Lane (an athletics club) and Richmond (Rugby) but it was Sheffield that was leading the way. By the time Forest FC played their first official external match in 1862 there was already ten Sheffield football clubs playing regularly.

The world’s oldest derby between Sheffield FC and Hallam FC is on the 30th July at 2pm at the Coach and Horses ground in Dronfield, priced at only ££6.00. Don’t miss it and tick a box in your football bucket list, when the world’s two oldest football clubs (still in existence) renew their 157 year old acquaintance.

Are Sheffield Wednesday FC set to celebrate their 150th birthday a day too early?

In my book “A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom” ( I list Sheffield Wednesday’s foundation date as September 5th 1867, but online I have noticed that the date referred to is always September 4th 1867.

Which is right?

An article in the Star newspaper on the 30th June last month spoke about the ‘Owls in the Park’ event on Sunday  the 3rd of September ‘to coincide with the Championship club’s 150th anniversary celebrations. The club was officially formed on 4 September 1867.’

With alarm bells ringing I went to the official Sheffield Wednesday FC website which also stated the 4th September 1867 as the start date (

My original source for the 5th of September foundation date came from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, dated Friday 6th September 1867, stating it was formed the day before:

‘SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY CRICKET CLUB AND FOOTBALL CLUB. – At a general meeting held yesterday, at the Adelphi Hotel, it was decided to form a football club in connection with the above cricket club, with the object of keeping together during the winter season the members of this influential club. The office-bearers were elected as follows: – President, Mr. B. Chatterton; vice-president and treasurer, Mr. F. S. Chambers; hon. Secretary, Mr. Jno. Marsh; assistant, Mr. Castleton; committee, Messrs. John Rodgers, John Pashley, Wm. Pilch, W, Fry, Wm. Littlehales, John White, C. Stokes, and H. Booking. After which above 60 good men were enrolled as members, and this without any canvass, amongst whom are many of the best players in the town.’

The Sheffield Independent newspaper waits till Saturday September 7th to report the same detail verbatim, but instead said that the meeting had been held on ‘Wednesday last’ , which makes the birth date of Wednesday the 4th of September.

So which local newspaper got it right?

Which day should Wednesday fans celebrate their 150th birthday-the 4th or the 5th?

I decided to go with the 5th of September in my book, firstly because one would hope that the closest report to the actual event should get it right and it was the Telegraph that wrote the original historic content. Secondly and more importantly Wednesday’s definitive (and first) reference book ‘The Romance of Wednesday 1867-1926’,written  by Richard Sparling in 1926, states categorically ‘The historic special meeting of the Wednesday Cricket club, which saw the birth of the football club, was held on Sept. 5th 1867 in the Adelphi Hotel.’

My advice for Owls would be to celebrate on Tuesday 5th September , or use the historical confusion as an excuse to make it a two day event and start the day before.

At the moment Sheffield Wednesday Football Club appear not to have a 150th commemorative match planned for the 5th of September (or the 4th!). The most appropriate team to choose for the match would be Dronfield FC , as that was the first external team they played, after a number of months of practice, on December 31st 1867.

In the absence of an official celebratory match, the fixture computer has stepped in to make an appropriate choice for Wednesday’s first opponents after the celebrations, with a home match against Nottingham Forest FC (on the 9th of September). Only the two Nottingham clubs are older than the Wednesday, making the Owls the third oldest professional club in England, so a match between 2nd and 3rd is to be greatly anticipated. (Sky seem to agree and have made the  match a live game at 17.30)

Sheffield FC kick off their season tonight against Chesterfield FC, in a fixture echoing a game from 1872

Sheffield FC start their 160th season with a home match tonight against Chesterfield FC.

The Spireites will only have a six mile journey north for this friendly game at the Coach and Horses Stadium so the attendance should be high. Whilst Chesterfield FC can claim a higher position in the League Pyramid they cannot compete with Sheffield FC’s history.

In my book “A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom” ( I look at the history behind Chesterfield FC.

The current Chesterfield FC dates from April 1919, and was formed from the Chesterfield Municipal FC, but a short-lived Chesterfield FC started nine years after Sheffield FC in 1866 but ceased in 1881. (Spookily the address of Chesterfield FC’s present day Proact Stadium is 1866 Sheffield Rd).

Football was played even earlier than 1866 by a Chesterfield team in 1864, in a one off match against Norton FC.

The early Chesterfield FC seemed to struggle with the decision on whether to throw it’s lot in with the Sheffield F.A. or the Derbyshire F.A. The direct railway line opened between Sheffield and Chesterfield in 1869 and from 1870 Sheffield club teams such as Norfolk FC and Sheffield United Mechanics FC, made the short trip to Chesterfield to play football but it was not until January 1st 1872 that I found a match played at the Recreation ground between Chesterfield FC and a representative Sheffield team. The Sheffield Independent ( reports it as a practice match for Sheffield  in anticipation of a game against a London team on the 27th January. These Sheffield teams represented the pick of the Sheffield FA and the games against the representatives of the London FA were very prestigious. (Sheffield FC  played few club games from 1865 and tended instead to play inter county matches.)

Both Clegg brothers played in the New Year’s day match and Sheffield won by two goals to nil ; a similar result tonight would be well received by Sheffield FC. The match kicks off at 7:30pm with prices reduced to £6 adults and £3 concessions, all pay on the night.

Sheffield Football Clubs’ Summer Fixtures – Enjoy the sun, football & history

There is plenty of Sheffield football to watch between now and September with the sun on your back and a football history book in your hand. With high profile friendlies, local derbies, exotic overseas games, a You Tube team and the actual season beginning on the first weekend of August (Championship), there is no reason to moan about the lack of an international tournament this summer.

The early season fixtures have created a history lesson in early Association football. There is still no news on who Wednesday will play to celebrate their 150th anniversary on the 5th September but they are at home on the 9th of September to Nottingham Forest. The fixture computer has produced a corker here, as Forest are the second oldest professional football club in the world (1865) after their County neighbours (1862). With Wednesday (1867), the third oldest professional club; a game between second and third beckons.

(Stoke City FC claim to be older than Wednesday with the year of 1863 on their badges but most research now confirms them as 4th with an actual foundation date of 1868. Appropriately the Potters are in Sheffield on the 25th of July to play Sheffield United.)

The football match of the summer for history fans is the friendly between Sheffield FC and Hallam FC on Sunday 30th July. A match between the world’s two oldest football clubs with the longest rivalry of any other. Interestingly Sheffield United have decided to play both Sheffield FC and Hallam FC as part of their build up to their first season in the Championship after six seasons in League One.

(Sheffield FC celebrate their 160th birthday on the 24th October 2017 and at the time of writing it not yet known who their celebratory match will be against.)

In between the local derbies Wednesday and United fly to Portugal and Spain respectively to fine tune their match play before they meet at Hillsborough on September 23rd in the keenly awaited ‘Steel City Derby’. (Sky will already be considering this for their TV schedules so it could quickly move to the Sunday 24th)

SUMMER 2017 FIXTURES (as of 21/6/17)

Sheffield FC (founded 1857)

Chesterfield FC (founded 1919) Home 4th July (Friendly) 19.30

Sheffield United FC (founded 1889) Home 11th July 2017 (Friendly) 19.30

Doncaster Rovers FC (founded 1879) Home 22nd July 2017 (Friendly) 15.00

AFC Emley (founded 2005) Away 25th July 2017 (Friendly) 19.45

Hallam FC (founded 1860) Home 30th July 2017 (Friendly) 14.00

Staveley Miners Welfare FC (founded 1962) Away 2nd August 2017 (Friendly) 19.45

Rebel FC (founded 2017) Home 5th August 2017 (Friendly) 19.45 15.00

(A YouTuber sports team managed by Rio Ferdinand)


Hallam FC (founded 1860)

Penistone Church FC (founded 1906) Home 18th July 2017 (Friendly) 19.30

Phoenix FC (founded 1910) Away 26th July 2017 (Friendly) 19.15

Sheffield FC (founded 1857) Away 30th July 2017 (Friendly) 14.00

Sheffield United (founded 1889) Home 1st August 2017 (Friendly) 19.45


Sheffield Wednesday FC (founded 1867)

Alfreton FC (founded 1959) Away 11th July 2017 (Friendly) 19.30

Mansfield Town FC (founded 1897 -but no Mansfield clubs by 1901) Away 15th July 2017 (Friendly) 15.00

Portimonense SC (founded 1914) Away 19th July (Friendly) 19.00

Vitoria de Setubal FC (founded 1910) Away 22nd July (Friendly) 20.00

Doncaster Rovers FC (founded 1879) Away 25th July 2017 (Friendly) 19.30

Preston North End FC (founded 1878) Away 5th August 2017 (League) 15.00

Queens Park Rangers FC (founded 1886) Home 12th August 2017 (League) 15.00

Sunderland FC (founded 1880 ) Home 15th August (League) 19.45

Fulham FC (founded 1879) Away 19th August 2017 (League) 15.00

Burton United FC (founded 1871*) Away 26th August 2017 (League) 15.00

Nottingham Forest FC (founded 1865) Home 9th September 2017 (League) 17.30 (on Sky TV)


Sheffield United FC (founded 1889)

Stocksbridge Park Steelers (founded 1986) Away 8th July 2017 (Friendly) 15.00

Sheffield FC (founded 1857) Away 11th July 2017 (Friendly) 19.30

Malaga CF (founded 1904) Away 14th July 2017 (Friendly) 20.30

Chesterfield FC (founded 1919) Away 18th July 2017 (Friendly) 19.45

Rotherham United FC (founded 1925) Away 21st July (Friendly) 19.45

Stoke City FC (founded 1868) Home 25th July 2017 (Friendly) 19.45

Eastleigh FC (founded 1946) Away 28th July (Friendly-Chris Wilder was a trainee at the club) 19.45

Hallam FC (founded 1860) Away 1st August 2017 (Friendly) 19.45

Brentford FC (founded 1889) Home 5th August 2017 (League) 15.00

Middlesbrough FC (founded 1876) Home 12th August 2017 (League) 15.00

Cardiff FC (founded 1899) Away 15th August 2017 (League) managed by Neil Warnock 19.45

Barnsley FC (founded 1887) Away 19th August 2017 (League) 15.00

Derby County FC (founded 1881**) Home 26th August 2017 (League) 15.00

Sunderland FC (founded 1880) Away 9th September 2017 (League) 15.00


More history on the south Yorkshire and north Derbyshire Football clubs can be found in “A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom” There is more information here:

* A merger between Burton Swifts FC and Burton Wanderers FC

** As Derby Midland FC


Thomas Youdan: The man behind the world’s oldest football trophy

Thomas Youdan appeared in the Sheffield press as early as 1857 as the proprietor of the Surrey Music Hall, organising a free ‘Monster Tea Party’ for 2,000 women over 60 years of age, held in the cattle market on 600 yards of tables. A charge for admission was made for all, except the old ladies, and the net proceeds went to aid the sufferers of the mutiny in India. His new idea in 1867 for publicity was to exploit the fast-growing popularity of Sheffield football. This year marks the 150th anniversary of Hallam FC winning the Youdan Cup on the 5th March 1867.

(See my blog for more information about the actual tournament and there is a lot more information about the Youdan Cup in my new book )

Thomas Youdan was born in 1816 and died on the 28th November 1876; his last address was listed as Flotmanby House in Filey. He died a rich man with ‘effects under £25,000’ and left a controversial legacy behind him Sheffield. His niece Harriette Youdan erected an expensive monument to her uncle in the Sheffield General Cemetery in the Autumn of 1878, but this was defaced year later with a hammer and chisel by Thomas’s brother John. You can see below that the Aberdeen granite has been repaired with the addition of a new strip of stone:

Some background family history is required to try to understand the actions of John Youdan in 1879, when he defaced his brother’s monument. I am very grateful to Paul Youdan (Samuel Youdan’s great grandchild x4) who sent me additional information on his family’s history.

Thomas Youdan was born in Streetthorpe, near Doncaster and was first employed as an agricultural labourer. He moved to Sheffield aged 18 and eventually learned the trade of silver stamping. He became keeper of a beer house in the park and then left if for a house in West Bar, which he opened as ‘Spink’s Nest’ This property was gradually extended and became the Surrey Theatre. On completion it was a ballroom, a concert hall, theatre, museum and a menagerie! However, on the 25th March 1865 it was burnt to the ground with a loss of £30,000.

He used an existing lease he owned on Blonk Street and opened the Alexandra Opera House and turned this into another success, using amongst other marketing ideas, the launch of the Youdan Cup. After retiring in 1874 with his £30,000 fortune restored, he moved to Filey to raise and breed stock and became a member of the Town Council.

Thomas Youdan had five brothers;

George (b. 1802)
Charles (b. 1803)
Samuel (b. 1808)
Robert (b. 1812)
John (b. 1818)

and four sisters:

Anna (b. 22/11/1804)
Sarah (b. 1806)
Anne (b. 01/04/1810)
Jane (b. 1814)

For unknown reasons George Youdan’s daughter Harriet was living with his brother Thomas Youdan from 1849 ‘practically as his daughter’. Harriet Youdan was born in York in 1843. In the 1851 census Thomas was married to Mary aged 23, and living with them are two nieces Emily and Harriette at 66 West Bar, Sheffield. (During the course of this story Harriet’s name is spelt in two different ways)

By the 1861 census Thomas is listed as a ‘proprietor of a music hall’ aged 43 and Harriette is the only named family member living with him with no job or relationship listed; just her age of eighteen. They were living in Ecclesfield at Lane Head House and employed a cook and a housemaid.

It is interesting to see how time has added a historical perspective to the life of Thomas Youdan, His obituaries from 141 years ago make no mention of his involvement with football and his eponymous cup, but it is football that has made his name famous in this the 150th anniversary year of the Youdan Cup.

Thomas Youdan left his extensive estate to Harriet and the will was finally proved at York on the 6th of September 1877, ten months after his death. The reason for the delay was because the will was contested by Samuel Youdan  claiming that Thomas was not of sound mind when he made his will leaving everything to Harriet. At the hearing, it was repeated that Harriet had lived with Thomas and was to him as a daughter. He had sent her to Paris to be educated and ‘spent money lavishly on her and obviously loved her as a daughter’. However, in 1870 Harriet became engaged to Frederick Stanton and this caused an ‘estrangement that lasted from June 1870 to April 1871. At that time, the engagement was broken off and the parties (Thomas and Harriet) once again became friends’.

The hearing decided that Thomas was of sound mind when he made his will and Harriette inherited the money and not long after married Frederick Stanton, six years after their original break up. They married on the 5th April 1877, five months after Thomas’s death and three months before finally inheriting his fortune.

Newly married and newly wealthy Harriette decided to erect the £200 monument to her uncle and benefactor in Sheffield General Cemetery in 1878. The original inscription included the line: ‘erected by his adopted daughter, Harriette Youdan’ and it was this line that led her Uncle John (not her natural father George) to chisel out the words ‘adopted daughter’. A witness to the event was William Lomas who saw John Youdan ‘busily engaged in cutting out the letters with hammer and chisel and he asked him what he was doing and John replied that ‘the words were not true and had been inserted without any right’. It was decided that a repair to the monument would cost ‘£75 and John Youdan admitted causing the damage’.

‘The Defendant; I am his (Thomas Youdan’s) eldest surviving brother. I dispute that she was his adopted daughter. He never adopted her. She was his niece and the word ‘niece’ should not have appeared’

‘Mr Roberts: If the words are put in again, will you take them out?’

‘The Defendant; Until I am convinced that she was his adopted daughter. He never did adopt her’.

He was found guilty and fined £10 and costs, or two months imprisonment.

What is the truth behind the scandal? Was it a family arguing over money? Or was it Thomas’s relationship with his niece that caused such bad feelings?

As you see from the above video of the monument Harriette did not feel strongly enough to repeat her claim on the replacement granite after the repair and perhaps that reflected her desire to let the matter rest.


Paul Youdan

Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Wednesday 01 August 1877

Derbyshire Courier – Saturday 28 July 1877

Sheffield Daily Telegraph 27th September 1879

Charles Clegg: Sheffield Football’s most important man?

Charles and his brother William  were both solicitors by trade; both played for Sheffield FC, Sheffield Football Association, Wednesday FC, Albion FC and England and both acted as Umpires in important games. After hanging up his boots, William Clegg became Lord Mayor of Sheffield as well as president of Wednesday and Vice President of the Sheffield Football Association.

Charles Clegg was a fierce proponent of the amateur game and strongly against all forms of professionalism. Over time he mellowed and oversaw Wednesday’s transition to professionalism and was involved in the foundation of Sheffield United in 1889, a club designed to be professional from the start. Charles was chairman of Wednesday and of the Sheffield Football Association and the most powerful man in English football between 1890 and 1919 in his capacity at the Football Association as the first and longest-standing chairman. He refereed both the 1882 and 1892 F.A. Cup Finals and in 1899 became chairman of Sheffield United; he became President of the club in 1924. He was knighted in 1927 and his club Presidency only lapsed on his death in 1937.

Both brothers are buried in the family tomb at Fulwood cemetery

The Sheffield and Hallamshire Football Association is based at Clegg House, 204 Meadowhall Road and there is a fine plaque of the man in reception.

If you have a spare £1.3m you can buy the 7-bedroomed house on Whiteley Wood Road that Leonard Johnson Clegg built in 1898 (the younger of the three Clegg brothers). If you go to the listing there is a photograph of a stained-glass window that depicts the Mayoral Crest featuring the lion rampant.

There is a lot more information on the Cleggs in my new book

Sir Nathaniel Creswick’s grave inscription

Nathaniel Creswick is buried in a family tomb at Heeley Parish Church. The inscription says:
In affectionate remembrance of the late Nathaniel Creswick of East Hill House in this Parish, who died on the 22nd of November 1855 aged 62 years. And of Elisabeth his wife who died May 29th 1869 aged 67. And their oldest son Sir Nathaniel Creswick KCB of Norton Green born 31st July -died 20th October 1917 and of his wife Dame Sarah Ann Creswick born 19th June 1841 , died 28th June 1921.

Sir Nathaniel Creswick: A tale of two leaky roofs

(Much more information about the history of Sheffield football is available in my new book available now at )

Nathaniel Creswick co-founded the world’s first football club, Sheffield FC, in 1857 and last week I visited his grave at the Heeley Parish Church. The size and the positioning of his memorial, right next to the church’s main entrance, gives an indication of how significant he was to the church.

Heeley Parish church, at 151 Gleadless Road, was founded in 1846 from part of the St. Mary’s Parish on Bramall Lane and was originally named ‘Christ Church’. Henry Denson Jones was the first vicar and remained in place for 42 years until 1888. The church founded Heeley Christchurch FC in 1862 making it the first Association Football Club in England (and the world) to be formed from a church.

Did the idea to form a football club come from Reverend Denson Jones as the philosophy of ‘Muscular Christianity’ swept Victorian England? Or was it congregation-member Nathaniel Creswick pointing out that his club, formed five years previously, was booming and that the church should join the fast-growing Sheffield football movement?

I met Ken Law the church’s current stand-in vicar last week and he explained that the church has a thriving community, supported by a strong contingent of Anglicans from Ethiopia and Nepal. He said that the design of Nathaniel Creswick’s memorial has made it a favourite spot for church members to sit on in the fine weather. Originally the stone was protected by metal railings but they would have been collected for the war effort in 1940s and one wonders if today’s congregation realise the world-wide significance of the memorial they sit on every summer?

Ken’s main current preoccupation is with the church’s leaking roof, particularly around the tower section which is in desperate need of funds to protect the fabric of the structure. He now hopes that the church’s newly found footballing heritage will provide the publicity necessary to generate the much-needed money.

In the same week as visiting Heeley Parish Church I had an appointment with Bill Towning (Club Secretary) at Sheffield FC’s ground out at Dronfield. He explained their plans to celebrate the club’s 160th anniversary this October. He went on to say that they are still working on their long-term plans to relocate to Sheffield and are opening a club shop in Ecclesall Road soon. The pressing problem for the club on the actual day I visited was that the flat roof over the changing rooms had a leak and the club’s maintenance man was up a ladder trying to find the cause of the problem.

It seems that leaky roofs are a problem both at Nathaniel Creswick’s last resting place and the location synonymous with his present football legacy. Both of these institutions deserve support in this important anniversary year for Sheffield football.

Much more information about the history of Sheffield football  is available in my new book available now-