William Chesterman: Sheffield FC’s first Hon. Sec. and the saviour of the F.A. was born 180 years ago today

William Chesterman (22/12/1837 – 6/1/1930) was an incredibly influential man in early Sheffield football and in the national game. He was a partner at the James Chesterman & Co Ltd a company that made measuring instruments on Pomona Street

and later in life he was also a Justice of the Peace. He died a wealthy man leaving over £76,000 and Belmayne House at 99 Clarkehouse Road and is buried in the graveyard at Ecclesall All Saints Church.




There is much more information about the early history of Sheffield football in my book which is available here.

But it would be football where he left his legacy, aged 19 he was the first Honorary Secretary of Sheffield FC in 1857. In the following year with Creswick and Prest he would have been involved with the drawing up of the 1858 Sheffield Rules. William Chesterman kept the club records at his works, which were demolished in the Great Flood of 1864, when two hundred and fifty lives were lost in Sheffield; almost impossibly these documents survived and were recovered later. It was this archive that was sold to raise funds for Sheffield FC in 2011 at Sothebys for £881,000 so his immortality is already assured and there is much more to the story.

He attended the decisive 5th meeting of the fledgling Football Association on the 1st December 1863. He enclosed a subscription for enrolment but also put forward the Sheffield point of view that: ‘the Association’s proposed rules permitting running with the ball and hacking were directly opposed to football and were more suggestive of wrestling.’ This was a decisive intervention and ensured that the FA went the ball dribbling route rather than the ball handling code being promoted by Blackheath FC.
Four years later only six people attended the 12th February 1867 F.A. Annual General Meeting and the Association discussed whether it should dissolve itself. However, one of those attending, was Sheffield FC’s indefatigable William Chesterman; who by now was also the President of the newly formed Sheffield FA. He brought with him a letter of support and encouragement for the F.A., which represented all the fourteen clubs that played regularly under the Sheffield rules, representing in excess of 1000 members. (My research in fact suggests there were sixteen clubs in 1867). It was good that there was other business to be discussed at the 1867 F.A. Annual General Meeting because it reads as if the downbeat Mr. Morley may have asked for a vote from the six clubs for a dissolution; instead of the recent 150-year birthday celebration, the F.A. might have only existed for four years, cutting the party short by some 146 years, if it had not been for the intervention of Sheffield’s William Chesterman.
He was still on the Sheffield FC’s committee in 1889 when they had to decide whether to merge the club with ‘ a professional organisation’ which would have been the end of the club but they decided to continue and maintain their amateur standing.

The image below is taken from his newspaper obituary in 1930 when he died aged 92.

Rare image of the 1890 F.A. Cup Final : Blackburn Rovers v The Wednesday

For the first time in Sheffield history a Sheffield team reached the final of the F.A. Cup when Wednesday met Blackburn Rovers in 1890, unfortunately the match finished as a 6-1 victory to Blackburn Rovers, the second widest winning margin in Cup final history. This very rare  monochrome photogravure  of the match is for sale from Grosvenor Prints for £850.00. I feature a full match report of the game in my new book:

A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom –  http://bit.ly/2qYw0r0



It features what must have quite a rare Wednesday attack on the Rovers goal with their goal keeper Johnny Horne holding the ball. The match was played at the Kennington Oval in front of 20,000 spectators.

This was the last of seven consecutive and eight total finals refereed by Major Francis Marindin.

[A Foot-ball Match]. 
W. H. Overend.
[n.d., c.1910].
Photographic print, very scarce. Size: 240 x 400mm. (9½ x 15¾”). Glued to sheet.
A photographic print of the late Victorian monochrome photogravure by Goupil & Co entitled ‘A Football Match, Association Game’, after the original painting by W. H.Overend and L .P. Smythe.


John Charles Shaw : Founder of Hallam FC died 99 years ago today

John Charles Shaw (23rd January 1834- 23rd November 1918) initially worked as a Law Stationer and was heavily involved in the aftermath of the Sheffield flood tragedy of 1864. He is most famous as the main founder of Hallam FC in 1860.

Charles Shaw founder of hallam fc

Charles Shaw founder of hallam fc

In my research, I have never been able to corroborate John Shaw as an earlier player for Sheffield FC, but by 1860 he is the Hon. Sec. of Hallam FC, a position he held until 1863, when he would have been thirty-three years of age. Then all the footballing newspaper reports stop for Shaw and are replaced with reports of his competition in athletic events. In 1864 he became a committee member for Sheffield Football Club. By 1868 Shaw was Vice President of the Sheffield Football Association and in 1869 he became President, a position he would hold for 14 years until 1882. From 1870 he was also Hallam FC President a position he held until 1874. In 1875 Shaw was appointed the organizing secretary for the Conservative Party for England and Wales.

He was the man that somehow lost possession of the Youdan Cup after buying it an auction in October 1886. At some point thereafter it ended up in an Edinburgh Antique Shop where Hallam FC were able to buy it back.

Much more information in my new book:

A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889 : Speed, Science and Bottom  http://bit.ly/2qYw0r0


French TV programme to celebrate Sheffield FC’s 160th birthday in October 2017

French TV programme to celebrate Sheffield FC’s 160th birthday in October 2017, to which I contributed background historical information.

I was asked by a French TV channel to contribute to a piece they had commissioned for the 160th birthday celebration. Obviously, the video is in the French language but the contributions from myself and SFC are in captioned English.


My book “A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom” is available here:




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



It was one of the most momentous changes to the Laws of the Game, and while the new law was intended for the following season it did not take long to make an impact. The first award of a penalty took place just four days later, on 6 June 1891, at Mavisbank Park in Airdrie.
Scottish Sport reported how Larkhall side Royal Albert defeated Airdrieonians 2-0 to lift the Airdrie Charity Cup, and how one of their players made history. Around 2000 fans ‘witnessed what is in all likelihood the first case of a referee granting a foul under the new law for tripping, holding, or handling the ball within twelve yards of goal. Mr Robertson was referee and decreed against one of the Airdrie backs soon after the start.’
Few people, least of all the players, knew what to expect: ‘That the new law was a puzzle to the players was evident, all appeared think they could stand in front of the ball as of old, but imagine the astonishment of both players and spectators when Connor alone was left between the sticks, while his ten companions had to go six yards behind the ball along with the Royalists. In simple, the new law means that but two men settle such infringement, the kicker and opposing goalkeeper, and a goal is a moral certainty with half good management.’ The writer was prescient enough to see trouble ahead: ‘The new penalty is most stringent, and referees will require to satisfy themselves that the law has been wilfully broken before bringing such penalty into force or we may hear of some ‘scenes’ during the incoming season when cup ties are in full swing, and partisanship red hot.’

With thanks to Andy Mitchell at: http://www.scottishsporthistory.com/sports-history-news-and-blog/born-in-scotland-the-story-of-the-penalty-kick

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 http://bit.ly/2qYw0r0


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) http://bit.ly/2g3vkNi

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” http://bit.ly/2qYw0r0

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) http://bit.ly/2g3vkNi

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: http://bit.ly/2g3vkNi


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. http://bit.ly/2vaEMXN


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 – http://bit.ly/2qYw0r0

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) http://bit.ly/2g3vkNi

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 –  http://bit.ly/2qYw0r0