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 http://bit.ly/2qYw0r0)
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.