World’s first photograph of a football team in a newspaper?

More about Sheffield football history in my book ‘A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom’

Photography was invented  in the early 19th century but the very first images printed in modern newspapers were made from engravings, because ink could be applied to engravings in the same manner as it was applied to moveable type on the printing press.The first halftone photographic image in a newspaper dates from the 1873, though widespread use didn’t happen until the 1880s.

There is an 1862 photograph of the Charterhouse school football team and the oldest ever photograph of an ‘open’ football club is of Forest FC  (the forerunners of the famous Wanderers FC)  from October 1863, featuring the two Alcock brothers. The Football Association owned the original but it has since been lost and didn’t appear in the press of the day.

According to my research, the world’s first photograph of a football team to appear in a newspaper was of the Sheffield representative team in the ‘Sheffield Portrait Gallery’, A Journal of Literature, Science, and Art’. published by Martin Hurst. 23 Church Street, Sheffield. Price Twopence. The photograph was taken in anticipation of a match on the 20th November 1875 against a representative Birmingham eleven to be played at Bramall Lane in front of 2.000 spectators. The event was devised to raise money for the Sheffield Football Players Accident Society.

The Sheffield eleven won by six goals to nil. The photograph did not appear in the ‘Sheffield Portrait Gallery’ until five months later in April 1876 ; the publisher worded the headline ‘The Sheffield Football Team”. This has led to confusion down the last 140 plus years, with the photograph becoming specifically associated with Sheffield FC . Any doubt on this matter is dispelled by the presence of Jack Hunter who never played for Sheffield FC and became a thorn in the Sheffield establishment’s side with his desire to be paid for his undoubted footballing skills. (In the photograph below he even looks an outsider with his different jersey). He was soon to leave for Lancashire where he became  player/coach of Blackburn Olympic; the first northern club to break the hegemony of the southern clubs by winning the FA Cup in 1883.

I recently secured an edition of the April 1876 Sheffield Portrait Gallery newspaper which features the historic photograph. What is fascinating is the discovery that it is an actual photograph attached to the newspaper. Inside the eight page publication it explains:

‘To remove the photograph,the back of it should be moistened with cold water, when the photograph can be removed without injury.It should then be mounted in the Album or Scrap book, or on a card’.

It is surprising to find the original photograph still attached to the publication in this instance as presumably the vast majority would have been removed. The decision by the publisher to go to the expense of affixing actual photographs rather than reproducing the image in newsprint is also very interesting. We could also say that this is the first ever example of a publication giving away a football picture gift. An inspired idea that has echoed down the years; from Topical Times giving away panel portraits of players in the 1930’s, up to the modern day Panini cards.

An outstanding riddle of the photograph is the question of the identity of the two ladies who have inserted themselves behind the back row of players.

The Sheffield line up is:

W.E. Clegg, J.C. Clegg, W. Wilkinson, E. Bowling, J. Morton, R. Gregory.
Ryecroft (Umpire in suit), J. Houseley, W. England, W.H. Stacey, W. Orton, G. Anthony, J. Hunter.

The earliest known photograph of an England football team was recently unearthed, taken before England’s fifth international match on March 4 1876, some four months after the above Sheffield photograph was taken. (The England team photograph was not used by newspapers of the day.)

If anyone out there has evidence of the second oldest newspaper photograph (not an engraving) of a football team or player (or if you have found an earlier example than April 1876) please email me at

More about Sheffield football history in my book ‘A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom’




Sheffield’s contribution to the origin of football debate

As the author of ‘A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom’ I became aware of the two competing groups looking to definitively put the general origins of football down to one specific cause. The original thought espoused by Geoffrey Green, Francis Peabody Magoun, Morris Marples, Montague Shearman and Percy Young was that the old boys from the public-school system originated the game. This orthodox view is today argued for by the likes of Graham Curry and Eric Dunning.

Later a revisionist group came along, including John Goulstone, Adrian Harvey and Peter Swain, who argued for the importance of the early folk football game and the influence of the working classes. They argued that it was not the Football Association, but the Sheffield Football Association and other early forms of football from whom the rules of modern soccer were developed.

Having investigated early Sheffield football for my book, I have a foot in both camps; I feel that the enormous influence of the Sheffield FA should be more recognised, which puts me firmly in the ‘revisionist camp’. But whilst looking at the origins of Sheffield football I suggested that a number of influences had all had an effect on Sheffield gaining such prominence; the Collegiate School, the volunteer movement, the thriving cricket scene and to a lesser degree the folk football played in Thurlstone. However, if pushed to select one predominant influence, I would choose the Collegiate School because Nathaniel Creswick and sixteen others of Sheffield FC’s initial membership of fifty-seven came from the school; which also puts me into the ‘orthodox’ camp.

Since completing my book, I have become aware of the work of Graham Curry, Eric Dunning and Kevin Neill- ‘Three men and two villages: the influence of footballers from rural South Yorkshire on the early development of the game in Sheffield’- which made me aware that there was another important public school, besides Collegiate, that influenced early Sheffield football. What I had not realised was that Thurlstone and the nearby Penistone had been home to three key men who did have an important effect of Sheffield football, namely John Shaw, John Marsh and John Ness Dransfield, all of whom attended Penistone Grammar School.

The first part of the story is that football games been arranged as early 1844 by a John Marsh (a possible relative?) in connection with the Horns Tavern in Penistone. (In 1852 the proprietor of the tavern is listed as Abel Marsh). Another match from the following year specifically stated that they wanted to play foot ball not hand ball.

The later John Marsh (who may or may not be a relation) features significantly in my book as captain of the Sheffield FA team who played the London FA in January 1874. He was born in Thurlstone in 1843 and was educated at Penistone Grammar School which was a free school to the boys of the parish, including Thurlstone.  John Marsh 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 1872. 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.)

John Ness Dransfield was born in Penistone 1839, the son of John Dransfield, a Solicitor.  Like John Marsh he too was educated initially at Penistone Grammar School and became a Member of the Sheffield FC 1860-61, whilst completing articles with Smith and Burdekin of Sheffield.  Eventually he joined his father to form Dransfield and Son. In 1906 he wrote ‘A History of the Parish of Penistone’ which included the following footballing insights:


A banquet to the members of the Sheffield Football Club Team, which had the previous month brought the Amateur Cup to Sheffield, was held on the 18th of May 1904, at the King’s Head Hotel, Change Alley, Sheffield. Mr. W. Chesterman, one of the oldest members of the Club, in responding to the toast, referred at length to its history. He said it was forty years since he had first responded to that toast; that the Sheffield Football Club formed in 1856 or 1857 was absolutely the first such club in the country; they had no rules, and no other clubs to meet, so sides were chosen at first. Then Hallam started a club and matches were arranged, in which ” bull strength ” was the principal feature. He had memories of seeing in these matches the ball lying quietly, and groups of half a dozen butting each other like rams yards away. The idea was to charge ” if you could get a shot at him, whether near the ball or not.”

Sheffield Club provided the first provincial team to play in London, the match being played at Battersea Park. ” Knocking on ” was allowed, and every goal that was scored was knocked through, and many a fist found a nose. Still it was a pleasant match. (Loud laughter.) It was wonderful how the game had grown.

He remembered that when the Sheffield Club went to Nottingham and won, the team came back so elated that they tossed the ball up outside the old Wicker Station and kicked it all the way through the town and up to Sandygate, where the last member of the team lived. When in Sheffield in 1860-1, I was myself a member of the Sheffield Football Club and played in matches with Hallam and the Garrison — then, I believe, consisting of the Connaught Rangers, and a very lively team the Rangers had. If not the first, Mr. John C. Shaw, a native of Penistone, and who when a boy was a clerk in my father’s office, and for many years past has been one of the oldest and best-known Conservative agents in the Kingdom, was one of the first captains of the Sheffield Football Club; and just previous to my joining Mr. John Marsh, a native of Thurlstone, had been captain. Mr. Nathaniel Creswick was captain when I was in the Club, and David Sellars, the old Sheffield huntsman, one of the players. 1 first saw and played with the large footballs now in use when at the Royal Institution School, Liverpool, in 1853-4-5, and when at Windermere College, also in 1855.

As mentioned above, John Charles Shaw, the man credited with forming Hallam FC in 1860, also came from Penistone and he too had attended Penistone Grammar School. He knew both Dransfield and Marsh; the 1861 census shows his housekeeper was Thirza Moorhouse, sister of Elizabeth, John Marsh’s aunt and the land lady of the Crystal Palace Public House.

It seems I must belatedly add Penistone Grammar School to my list of contributing factors to the origin of football in Sheffield in 1857 and thank the authors (in particular Kevin Neill) for alerting me to the role these two villages north of Sheffield brought to the Association game.

In their 2015 book ‘Association Football: a study in figurational sociology; Curry and Dunning suggest a ‘third way’ to look at the origins of football debate. This ‘third way’ accepts much of the revisionists’ argument for the centrality of Sheffield to the development of modern soccer rules but suggests that ‘Old Etonian-influenced rules’ triumphed in the FA, first over Rugby and then over Sheffield rules, due to the ‘high social status’ of FA secretary of Charles Alcock. (page 178)

I think that this ‘third way’ argument chimes with my own feelings. One wondered why the Sheffield FA bothered to keep propping up the ailing FA when their model was clearly thriving in Sheffield. When both rules and laws came together in 1877 it was described as an ‘amalgamation’ by all parties so there was no superiority on the FA’s part towards Sheffield football. Perhaps if the likes of Chesterman and Shaw had shown more self-confidence and less deference to their London counterparts the position of Sheffield in the story of Association football would be even greater.

In Sheffield we are still guilty of playing down our achievements and there is still no significant recognition in the city of the seminal part played by those early pioneers. Ironically in Europe and the rest of the world Sheffield already enjoys this status, but the job of work that needs doing is firstly in Sheffield itself and then the rest of Britain. We lack a central focus to rally around to tell the Sheffield football story but perhaps if Sheffield FC can cement their planned move back close to their old East Bank ground in the city centre then that can be the catalyst for Sheffield football and the Sheffield people to take the message to the rest of the UK.

Feast of football in God’s own County this weekend

Two Yorkshire derbys at midday with Barnsley hosting Wednesday at 12.15 and 15 minutes later Sheffield United welcome Leeds United to Bramall Lane.Huddersfield are at home against Bournemouth on Sunday and Hallam play East Yorkshire Carnegie at 3.00 pm on Saturday.
Sheffield FC dont have a match until the 13th when they home to Spalding United.
Only Rotherham and Hull are away this weekend with short journeys to Scunthorpe and Nottingham respectively.

Yorkshire, in the form of Sheffield, is the home of football so watch a match in God’s own County this weekend.

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

Sheffield Football Club – Interview with Bill Towning (Club Secretary) October 2017

Ellis Carr filmed the Off the Shelf book festival when Martin Westby spoke about his new book A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom –

Before the presentation started he interviewed Bill Towning (secretary of Sheffield FC)



Visit and subscribe to Martin Westby’s You Tube Channel 

Sheffield is the home of football – Chris Eyre interview October 2017

Ellis Carr filmed the Off the Shelf book festival when Martin Westby spoke about his new book A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom –

Before the presentation started he interviewed Chris Eyre the historian of the Sheffield & Hallamshire County Football Association.

Visit and subscribe to Martin Westby’s You Tube Channel

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 –



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.

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


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



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