FOOTBALL PIONEERS

In 1855, members of a Sheffield cricket club organised informal kick-abouts without any official rules. Subsequently, two members, Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest, formed the Sheffield Football Club.


The inaugural meeting of the club took place on 24 October 1857 at Parkfield House in the suburb of Highfield in Sheffield. The original headquarters was a greenhouse on East Bank Road lent to them by Thomas Asline Ward, father of the first club president Frederick Ward, and the adjacent field was used as their first playing ground. Initially, Sheffield FC games were played among club members themselves and took the format of “Married v Singles” or “Professionals v the Rest”.

 

Creswick and Prest were responsible for drawing up the club’s rules of play, which were decided upon at the club’s AGM on 21 October 1858, and published the following year.They were referred to as the Sheffield Rules, and were the first detailed set of rules of football to be published by a football club (as opposed to a school or university). At the time, before the formation of the Football Association (FA), many different kinds of football were popular in England. For example, each of the various public schools played football according to their own individual rules, and these varied widely. The Sheffield Rules were later adopted by the Sheffield Football Association when it was formed in 1867.

Sheffield’s near neighbour, Hallam FC was formed in 1860 and in the same year the two clubs first met each other in a Local Derby which is still contested today.

  

They became members of The Football Association on 30 November 1863 but continued to use their own set of rules. On 2 January 1865, the club played its first fixture outside Sheffield against Nottingham playing eighteen-a-side under Nottingham Rules.

 

By this time the club had decided only to play teams outside Sheffield in order to seek a bigger challenge. On 31 March 1866, Sheffield played a ‘London’ team under FA Rules at Battersea Park. The game, played as an eleven aside, was won by London by 2 goals and four touches down to nil. However, the matter of Rules being disputed around the country was solved by the adaptation by Sheffield FC of the FA rules in 1878. Click the dates on the Timeline for further detail on Sheffield FC’s pioneering history:

In 1855, members of a Sheffield cricket club organised informal kick-abouts without any official rules. Subsequently, two members, Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest, formed the Sheffield Football Club.


The inaugural meeting of the club took place on 24 October 1857 at Parkfield House in the suburb of Highfield in Sheffield. The original headquarters was a greenhouse on East Bank Road lent to them by Thomas Asline Ward, father of the first club president Frederick Ward, and the adjacent field was used as their first playing ground. Initially, Sheffield FC games were played among club members themselves and took the format of “Married v Singles” or “Professionals v the Rest”.

 

Creswick and Prest were responsible for drawing up the club’s rules of play, which were decided upon at the club’s AGM on 21 October 1858, and published the following year.They were referred to as the Sheffield Rules, and were the first detailed set of rules of football to be published by a football club (as opposed to a school or university). At the time, before the formation of the Football Association (FA), many different kinds of football were popular in England. For example, each of the various public schools played football according to their own individual rules, and these varied widely. The Sheffield Rules were later adopted by the Sheffield Football Association when it was formed in 1867.

Sheffield’s near neighbour, Hallam FC was formed in 1860 and in the same year the two clubs first met each other in a Local Derby which is still contested today.

  

They became members of The Football Association on 30 November 1863 but continued to use their own set of rules. On 2 January 1865, the club played its first fixture outside Sheffield against Nottingham playing eighteen-a-side under Nottingham Rules.

 

By this time the club had decided only to play teams outside Sheffield in order to seek a bigger challenge. On 31 March 1866, Sheffield played a ‘London’ team under FA Rules at Battersea Park. The game, played as an eleven aside, was won by London by 2 goals and four touches down to nil. However, the matter of Rules being disputed around the country was solved by the adaptation by Sheffield FC of the FA rules in 1878. Click the dates on the Timeline for further detail on Sheffield FC’s pioneering history:

  • 1857

    1857, The First Team of The World

    Sheffield Football Club is founded on October 24th, by the pioneers, Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest, who wanted to build a community for the game of football. A game for young and old people alike to play in their free-time. The club’s committee decides to develop a new set of rules and laws for the game of football.

  • 1859

    1859, ‘Mob Football’

    Starting with the foundation of the club in 1857, the club’s committee studies the various rules and codes of ‘Mob Football’ which was often played at universities. After two years of experiments and debate they lay down their own set of standardised laws, which become the foundation of today’s modern game. Written by Nathaniel Creswick (left) and William Prest (right), the Rulebook of 1859 is the first official set of rules and laws for the game of football and defined the inventions of a corner kick, throw-in, free-kick, cross-bar and fouls.

  • 1860

    1860, first inter-club game

    On Boxing Day in 1860, Sheffield FC plays the first inter-club game against Hallam FC at Sandygate Lane, thereby becoming the first and oldest local derby in global football. Sheffield FC won this match 2-0. This legacy has lived on ever since, with both clubs competing against each other in a friendly match at amateur level every year.

  • 1863

    1863, English Football Association

    Sheffield Club members are instrumental in the formation of the English Football Association.

  • 1866

    1866, first inter-city match

    The Club plays its first inter-city match with London City at Battersea Park. The sight of the Sheffield players ‘butting’ the ball with their heads reduces the London players and fans to fits of laughter. Heading is born. (picture: map of Battersea Park). Furthermore in this year, the club travels to the first ever away match at Nottingham.

  • 1867

    1867, The world’s first football tournament

    The world’s first football tournament, the ‘Youdan Cup’ was played under Sheffield Rules in 1867.

  • 1872

    1872, first international match

    Sir Charles Clegg, also known as the ‘Napoleon of Football’, a regular feature on the Sheffield FC teamsheet and one of the club’s greatest pioneers, plays in the first international match between England and Scotland. In 1890 Sheffield’s famous son becomes chairman of the FA.

  • 1878

    1878, the first match played under floodlights

    On October 14th, Sheffield’s Bramall Lane ground hosts a match between two sides pulled from local players. It was the first match in football history to be played under floodlights. The experiment in night-time football was a great success, with approximately 20,000 people attending the legendary match at Bramall Lane, now the home of Sheffield United FC.

  • 1885

    1885, introduction of professionalism

    Its decline from the top echelon of football began with the introduction of professionalism in July 1885, with the amateurs of Sheffield failing to compete with professional teams; losing heavily that year to Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and Notts County. After the legalisation of professionalism, Sheffield FC suggests to the FA the creation of a cup exclusively for amateur clubs – namely the ‘FA Amateur Cup’. Sadly, in this year, on February 10th, William Prest dies, at the age of 52, from a fatal seizure due to a ruptured blood vessel.

  • 1904

    1904, Sheffield’s historic victory

    Sheffield FC celebrates their finest hour by lifting the Amateur Cup. The team won the final against Ealing, 3-1, with a crowd of 6,000 supporters seeing Sheffield’s historic victory.

  • 1905

    1905, first football world tour

    ‘The Pilgrims’, an amateur representative team, tour the U.S. and Canada. Frederick Houghton Milnes, a talented and well-known Sheffield amateur player, was involved in that first tour. Milnes was part of the Sheffield FC team that won the FA Amateur Cup in 1904 and was subsequently the moving spirit behind ‘The Pilgrims’. It was reported that ‘The Pilgrims’ were specially selected by US President Theodore Roosevelt, who was conducting a campaign to eliminate brutality from American college football by increasing the popularity of soccer. ‘The Pilgrims’ tour of 1905 represents the first serious attempt to popularise association football in that country.

  • 1917

    1917, Nathaniel Creswick dies

    At the age of 86, Nathaniel Creswick dies, in the month of October, exactly 60 years after his gift to football, the legacy of 1857.

  • 1946

    1946, FC Eindhoven – Sheffield FC

    In June 1946 Sheffield FC travels into Europe to play a friendly against FC Eindhoven. Sheffield won 3-0 against Eindhoven and a trophy from the encounter is still in the hands of the oldest club. Since their first trip to the Netherlands in 1894, Sheffield FC has played a few games against Eindhoven. The games between the two cities were arranged through the Sheffield-Eindhoven branch of the Anglo-Dutch Sports Association – formed to develop relations between the two countries through sport – and the Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA.

  • 1949

    1949, Yorkshire League

    The World’s First Football Club joins the ‘Yorkshire League’ in 1949, remaining in that competition until it merged with the ‘Midland League’ to form the ‘Northern Counties East League’ in 1982. During their 33-year stay in the ‘Yorkshire League’, their only divisional title was the Division Two crown in 1975–76.

  • 1957

    1957, The Club celebrates their centenary

    The Club celebrates their centenary at the Cutlers Hall, attended by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and Sir Stanley Rous. Furthermore a Centenary Celebration Concert featuring Lonnie Donegan had been organised to entertain and engage the citizens of Sheffield.

  • 1977

    1977, Wembley – Vase Final

    Sheffield FC appears for its first time on the hallowed turf at Wembley in the FA Vase Final, drawing 1-1. The club lost 2-1 to Billericay Town in a replay at Nottingham.

  • 1978

    1978, wins the Yorkshire League Cup

    A year later, Sheffield FC wins the Yorkshire League Cup with an emphatic 4-1 victory over Maltby.

  • 1982

    1982, 125th anniversary

    For its 125th anniversary, Sheffield Football Club holds a celebration dinner and plays a friendly match against Manchester United at Bramall Lane.

  • 2001

    2001, Sheffield FC has its own ground!

    For the first time in its history, Sheffield FC has its own ground! The Coach and Horses pub with an adjoining pitch and land in Dronfield is purchased for the purposes of developing a stadium. The ground is now also known as the ‘Home of Football Stadium’.

  • 2004

    2004, recognised by FIFA: Integrity, Respect and Community

    Sheffield FC is recognised by FIFA, alongside Real Madrid, with a ‘Centennial Order of Merit’, for services to football and credible maintenance of the club’s values: Integrity, Respect and Community.

  • 2007

    2007, 150th anniversary

    The club celebrates its 150th anniversary with a “Service to Football”, attended by many famous and celebrated gentlemen from the global football community, all celebrating this legendary day together with Sheffield Football Club. Amongst others, Pele, Sepp Blatter and Sir Bobby Charlton joined the anniversary dinner in Sheffield.

  • 2010

    2010, Sheffield football club foundation

    To preserve the heritage of Sheffield FC and the nature of football, the club inaugurates its own foundation in 2010. The Sheffield FC Foundation will never invest in future players, but in different local and global projects to spread the true values of the game: Integrity, Respect and Community.

  • 2012

    2012, Happy Birthday Football! 155th anniversary

    24th of October: Happy Birthday Football! In recognition of the 155th anniversary of the club and in memory of the founders, Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest, the Sheffield FC Foundation celebrates the pioneering spirit of football with fans, clubs and football associations from all over the world. This event has now become “World Football Day” – one day for the global football community to remember and celebrate the pioneers and inventors of the game.

  • 2019

    The Story of 1857, Football Pioneers

    In memory of football’s pioneers, Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest, who founded the World’s First Football Club on October 24th, 1857: Sheffield FC.

  • 1857

    1857, The First Team of The World

    Sheffield Football Club is founded on October 24th, by the pioneers, Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest, who wanted to build a community for the game of football. A game for young and old people alike to play in their free-time. The club’s committee decides to develop a new set of rules and laws for the game of football.

  • 1859

    1859, ‘Mob Football’

    Starting with the foundation of the club in 1857, the club’s committee studies the various rules and codes of ‘Mob Football’ which was often played at universities. After two years of experiments and debate they lay down their own set of standardised laws, which become the foundation of today’s modern game. Written by Nathaniel Creswick (left) and William Prest (right), the Rulebook of 1859 is the first official set of rules and laws for the game of football and defined the inventions of a corner kick, throw-in, free-kick, cross-bar and fouls.

  • 1860

    1860, first inter-club game

    On Boxing Day in 1860, Sheffield FC plays the first inter-club game against Hallam FC at Sandygate Lane, thereby becoming the first and oldest local derby in global football. Sheffield FC won this match 2-0. This legacy has lived on ever since, with both clubs competing against each other in a friendly match at amateur level every year.

  • 1863

    1863, English Football Association

    Sheffield Club members are instrumental in the formation of the English Football Association.

  • 1866

    1866, first inter-city match

    The Club plays its first inter-city match with London City at Battersea Park. The sight of the Sheffield players ‘butting’ the ball with their heads reduces the London players and fans to fits of laughter. Heading is born. (picture: map of Battersea Park). Furthermore in this year, the club travels to the first ever away match at Nottingham.

  • 1867

    1867, The world’s first football tournament

    The world’s first football tournament, the ‘Youdan Cup’ was played under Sheffield Rules in 1867.

  • 1872

    1872, first international match

    Sir Charles Clegg, also known as the ‘Napoleon of Football’, a regular feature on the Sheffield FC teamsheet and one of the club’s greatest pioneers, plays in the first international match between England and Scotland. In 1890 Sheffield’s famous son becomes chairman of the FA.

  • 1878

    1878, the first match played under floodlights

    On October 14th, Sheffield’s Bramall Lane ground hosts a match between two sides pulled from local players. It was the first match in football history to be played under floodlights. The experiment in night-time football was a great success, with approximately 20,000 people attending the legendary match at Bramall Lane, now the home of Sheffield United FC.

  • 1885

    1885, introduction of professionalism

    Its decline from the top echelon of football began with the introduction of professionalism in July 1885, with the amateurs of Sheffield failing to compete with professional teams; losing heavily that year to Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and Notts County. After the legalisation of professionalism, Sheffield FC suggests to the FA the creation of a cup exclusively for amateur clubs – namely the ‘FA Amateur Cup’. Sadly, in this year, on February 10th, William Prest dies, at the age of 52, from a fatal seizure due to a ruptured blood vessel.

  • 1904

    1904, Sheffield’s historic victory

    Sheffield FC celebrates their finest hour by lifting the Amateur Cup. The team won the final against Ealing, 3-1, with a crowd of 6,000 supporters seeing Sheffield’s historic victory.

  • 1905

    1905, first football world tour

    ‘The Pilgrims’, an amateur representative team, tour the U.S. and Canada. Frederick Houghton Milnes, a talented and well-known Sheffield amateur player, was involved in that first tour. Milnes was part of the Sheffield FC team that won the FA Amateur Cup in 1904 and was subsequently the moving spirit behind ‘The Pilgrims’. It was reported that ‘The Pilgrims’ were specially selected by US President Theodore Roosevelt, who was conducting a campaign to eliminate brutality from American college football by increasing the popularity of soccer. ‘The Pilgrims’ tour of 1905 represents the first serious attempt to popularise association football in that country.

  • 1917

    1917, Nathaniel Creswick dies

    At the age of 86, Nathaniel Creswick dies, in the month of October, exactly 60 years after his gift to football, the legacy of 1857.

  • 1946

    1946, FC Eindhoven – Sheffield FC

    In June 1946 Sheffield FC travels into Europe to play a friendly against FC Eindhoven. Sheffield won 3-0 against Eindhoven and a trophy from the encounter is still in the hands of the oldest club. Since their first trip to the Netherlands in 1894, Sheffield FC has played a few games against Eindhoven. The games between the two cities were arranged through the Sheffield-Eindhoven branch of the Anglo-Dutch Sports Association – formed to develop relations between the two countries through sport – and the Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA.

  • 1949

    1949, Yorkshire League

    The World’s First Football Club joins the ‘Yorkshire League’ in 1949, remaining in that competition until it merged with the ‘Midland League’ to form the ‘Northern Counties East League’ in 1982. During their 33-year stay in the ‘Yorkshire League’, their only divisional title was the Division Two crown in 1975–76.

  • 1957

    1957, The Club celebrates their centenary

    The Club celebrates their centenary at the Cutlers Hall, attended by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and Sir Stanley Rous. Furthermore a Centenary Celebration Concert featuring Lonnie Donegan had been organised to entertain and engage the citizens of Sheffield.

  • 1977

    1977, Wembley – Vase Final

    Sheffield FC appears for its first time on the hallowed turf at Wembley in the FA Vase Final, drawing 1-1. The club lost 2-1 to Billericay Town in a replay at Nottingham.

  • 1978

    1978, wins the Yorkshire League Cup

    A year later, Sheffield FC wins the Yorkshire League Cup with an emphatic 4-1 victory over Maltby.

  • 1982

    1982, 125th anniversary

    For its 125th anniversary, Sheffield Football Club holds a celebration dinner and plays a friendly match against Manchester United at Bramall Lane.

  • 2001

    2001, Sheffield FC has its own ground!

    For the first time in its history, Sheffield FC has its own ground! The Coach and Horses pub with an adjoining pitch and land in Dronfield is purchased for the purposes of developing a stadium. The ground is now also known as the ‘Home of Football Stadium’.

  • 2004

    2004, recognised by FIFA: Integrity, Respect and Community

    Sheffield FC is recognised by FIFA, alongside Real Madrid, with a ‘Centennial Order of Merit’, for services to football and credible maintenance of the club’s values: Integrity, Respect and Community.

  • 2007

    2007, 150th anniversary

    The club celebrates its 150th anniversary with a “Service to Football”, attended by many famous and celebrated gentlemen from the global football community, all celebrating this legendary day together with Sheffield Football Club. Amongst others, Pele, Sepp Blatter and Sir Bobby Charlton joined the anniversary dinner in Sheffield.

  • 2010

    2010, Sheffield football club foundation

    To preserve the heritage of Sheffield FC and the nature of football, the club inaugurates its own foundation in 2010. The Sheffield FC Foundation will never invest in future players, but in different local and global projects to spread the true values of the game: Integrity, Respect and Community.

  • 2012

    2012, Happy Birthday Football! 155th anniversary

    24th of October: Happy Birthday Football! In recognition of the 155th anniversary of the club and in memory of the founders, Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest, the Sheffield FC Foundation celebrates the pioneering spirit of football with fans, clubs and football associations from all over the world. This event has now become “World Football Day” – one day for the global football community to remember and celebrate the pioneers and inventors of the game.

  • 2019

    The Story of 1857, Football Pioneers

    In memory of football’s pioneers, Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest, who founded the World’s First Football Club on October 24th, 1857: Sheffield FC.

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