Photographs from the launch of the Sheffield Home of Football walking app

Photographs of the Sheffield Library event courtesy of Ellis Carr, Nick Partridge and Stephen Elliot. Discover the app yourself -download here:

The crowd gathers at Heeley Parish Church – The grave of Nathaniel Creswick and the world’s oldest football club formed from a church.


Geoffrey Norton – oldest surviving descendant of Nathaniel Creswick.

Richard Tims (Chairman of Sheffield FC) outlines his plan to build the Home of Football Stadium.

Mark Metcalf co author of Fred Spiksley book outside the site of where the Olive Grove was situated.

The B&Q Store on Queens Road, the site of Sheffield FC’s East Bank Ground in 1857. The ground where Association football began.

Martin Westby the app designer, explains that the Olive Grove Campus stands on the site of the long demolished Park House. This is where the early Sheffield FC players would change before matches and where they held their inaugural meetings.


The bust of William Prest (co founder of Sheffield FC ) at the Cutlers Hotel.

Half time oranges at the Town Hall with Sheffield’s Lord Mayor.

John Garrett talks about Sheffield United’s early history in the Cricketers Arms on Bramall Lane.

Walk finishes at Highfield Library -the site of Sheffield Wednesday’s first ever ground.

Q&A session with local football club historians after the walk from left to right : John Wilson, Mark Metcalf, Jason Dickinson, Andy Dixon, Ben, Martin Westby and Clive Nicholson.

All washed down with free tea and cakes courtesy of those lovely people at Tesco!

Discover the app yourself -download here:


John Marsh – Wednesday FC founder and Captain died this day aged just 37

John Marsh features significantly in my book A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom 

Tomorrow (April 22nd) is the launch of the ‘Sheffield: The Home of Football Free walking app’ which can be downloaded here:

John Marsh was captain of the Sheffield FA team who played the London FA in January 1871. He was born in Thurlstone in 1843 and was educated at Penistone Grammar School, he became an engraver in Sheffield and was apprenticed in the same company where Nathaniel Creswick was Director. He was one of the founders of the Wednesday FC in 1867 and was Hon. Sec by 1871. He moved back home in 1874 to form Thurlstone Crystal Palace FC, named after his mother’s (nee Moorhouse) public house in the village (a story that also features in my book.)

In 1876 he suffered a fall whilst playing for Thurlstone against Fir Vale FC and broke his arm which never properly recovered, and he became very depressed. In 1877 Wednesday FC played a benefit match on his behalf as we can see from the minutes of the Sheffield FA Minutes book.

Image courtesy of the Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA

The match raised him £40.00 but he died on the 21st April 1880 and the following obituary appeared in Bells Life:

Sheffield Home of Football Launch Walk 22nd April Practicalities

We hope you are looking forward to the Sheffield: Home of Football walk on Sunday as much as we are.  In advance of the event, we want to highlight a few practical considerations for everyone to bear in mind.

About the Sheffield: Home of Football app

  • Please make sure you have downloaded the Sheffield: Home of Football app from your app store before the day of the launch walk and check that your phone is fully charged. Visit to download.
  • Please familiarise yourself with what the various buttons do on the app so that you are ready for the walk. The best way to do this is to read the pre-planning section.
  • The audios repeat the same information that is available as text in the app and ordinarily you could choose whether to do the walk either by listening or reading. However, on the 22nd we ask that you concentrate on the text and the pictures only rather than the audio; that way you will be able to hear what the historians leading your group have to say at the various points on the tour.

Football Historians attending the walk:

  • Martin Westby author of A History of Sheffield Football 1857 -1889
  • John Wilson organiser of the ‘Home of Football’ project
  • Andy Dixon Sheffield FC Club Historian
  • Scott Loveluck Hallam FC Club Historian
  • Jason Dickinson Sheffield Wednesday FC Club Historian
  • John Garrett Sheffield United FC Club Historian
  • Clive Nicholson and Mark Metcalf authors of ‘Flying over an Olive Grove’

Health and safety
We want everyone to have the best possible experience, so here are a few recommendations:

  • The weather forecast for Sunday is warm. We recommend wearing suitable clothing, sun cream and a hat.
  • Please bring water and any snacks you might need.
  • If you would usually take medication during the day, please ensure you bring it with you.
  • Although entirely on paved areas, 4.7 miles is a long walk so please wear appropriate, sturdy shoes.
  • If you have any physical limitations that may prevent you from completing the walk, please let us know. If you think you will be unable to complete the 4.7 mile walk, please do not take part.  However you might still wish to join us at Highfield Library from 2.30pm for tea, cake and a Q&A session with the historians.
  • Everyone should proceed at a pace they are comfortable with which does not cause over exertion. Those who suspect they are unable to complete the necessary distance should inform the walk leader and not proceed.
  • Once the walk begins, we ask that you do not leave the walk without informing the walk leader.
  • Please take care when crossing roads and don’t allow the phone to distract from normal road safety.
  • Please remain on pavements except when crossing roads.
  • Give way to other pedestrians and be mindful of the group size and traffic around you.
  • If at any point you require medical assistance, inform the walk leader.
  • Ultimately, all attendees are responsible for their own safety.


On arrival at Heeley Parish Church
Please arrive for 12noon, for registration and an introduction and briefing.  Report to the walk leader who will be wearing a high visibility jacket.

Please note, there is a church service going on until 11.45am, so please respect the church yard and keep the noise down until after that time.

On arrival at Highfield Library
The walk concludes at Highfield Library where we will be serving refreshments and cake.  The football historians will be giving a Q&A session and Martin Westby, author of ‘A History of Sheffield Football 1857 -1889 will be selling his book at the discounted price of £15.00.

Feel free to wear your favourite Sheffield football club’s shirt, be it Sheffield FC, Hallam FC, Wednesday FC or United. The walking tour app is about celebrating Sheffield’s collective contribution to football.

Thanks for reading; we look forward to seeing you on Sunday!

The Events Team

William Foulke: Sheffield’s ‘Giant of the Game’ born this day in 1874

William Henry Foulke is probably Sheffield’s most famous footballer of all time but is probably unrecognisable to the average reader without his ubiquitous nickname of ‘Fatty’. In the same way that everyone Googles ‘Gazza’ rather than ‘Paul Gascoigne’, poor old Fatty Foulkes is doomed to be forever associated with his nickname rather than his amazing football prowess. I would like to remedy that in this article, starting with this fantastic image of William, aged just 21, from the 1895 book ‘Famous Footballers’ .

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



In the description it says he is better known as ‘Foulkes’

Interested in Sheffield Football History? Then download the new walking app

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

William Foulke was discovered by scouts playing in goal for a village side, Blackwell Pit, in a Derbyshire Cup tie at Ilkeston. He was immediately signed to Sheffield United and made his debut against West Bromwich Albion on September 1st, 1894 and helped the team to reach three F.A. Cup finals, two of which they won, and a League championship. Only Ernest Needham won more honours with Sheffield United than William Foulke.

411 League and Cup Appearances for Sheffield United, Chelsea and Bradford City

First ever captain of Chelsea in their debut season in the Football League

1 cap for England in 1897 v Wales

1 League Championship medal (1897-98)

2 F.A. Cup winners medals (1898-1899 & 1901-02)

1 F.A. Cup losers medal (1900-01)

He was born this day (12th April) in 1874 in Dawley, Shropshire and died at the tragically young age of just 42 of cirrhosis of the liver and is buried in Burngreave cemetery. He died on May 1st, 1916.

In his obituary  a better and more accurate nickname than the derogatory ‘Fatty’ is used for William Foulke;

The Giant of the Game. ’He could stop a football with one hand in the same way a fielder in the slips stops a ball at cricket.  He could throw it as far as some men could kick it and United enthusiasts called him ‘Little Willie’.

He was the most important part of one of the greatest defences ever known in that era with only 93 goals conceded over the three seasons of his stewardship in the United goal. Yet his legendary status between the sticks only earned him one England cap in 1897 against Wales.

Here is a very rare video of Foulkes in action for Sheffield United against Bury FC in 1902. He features at the end of the Mitchell and Kenyon film taking a goal kick:

‘A football wonder is Willie. Perhaps the most talked of player in the world. A leviathan (22 stone) with the agility of a bantam. Abnormal yet normal. The cheeriest of companions; brims ever with good humour; at repartee is as difficult to score against as when between the posts. His ponderous girth no inconvenience and the manner he gets down to low shots explodes any idea that a superfluity of flesh is a handicap. Scorns to pick up with both hands. By simply spreading out one hand over the ball Foulke does all that is necessary. Association Football : The men who made it

Interested in Sheffield Football History? Then download the new walking app

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

In the book ‘The Outsider’, the writer and journalist Jonathan Wilson records Foulkes weight gain ; William weighed 84 kilos when he first arrived in Sheffield, 90 in 1896, 124 in 1899, 145 in 1902 and close to 160 in 1905, when he moved from Sheffield United to Chelsea. Following retirement from professional football he moved to the seaside town of Blackpool and for a while earned money defending penalties  taken by holiday makers in a tent on the beach, later he moved back to Sheffield where he managed a bar, the Duke Inn.

A lot of myths grew up around Foulkes and in in 1913 he spoke in his own words to correct the stories.