160 Years of the Beautiful Game

On October 24, 1857, Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest founded Sheffield FC. 160 years ago today, the world’s first association football club was born in the form of Sheffield FC.

Sheffield FC was founded 7 years before the FA, so Creswick and Prest were tasked with creating their own rulebook for the sport. They created the Sheffield Rules, and they were the first official rules for the sport which based itself on the values of integrity, respect, and community.

Sheffield became members of the FA in 1863, but kept playing by the Sheffield Rules until they adopted the rules in 1878. In 1885 they declined the offer to join the profession league set up by the FA.

With the introduction of professional football and their decline in performance, Sheffield FC suggested an amateur-only tournament to the FA. This led to the creation of the FA Amateur Cup in 1893.

In 1898, Sheffield helped found the Yorkshire League, where they only spent one season. After that, they competed mainly in local leagues for another 50 years until they rejoined the Yorkshire League.

By the time of their centenary year, Sheffield FC returned to the top-flight, but were relegated to Division Two by 1961. From then, it was up and down until 1970 when they were relegated to the newly formed Division Three. By 1976 Sheffield returned to Division Two and were promoted to Division One a year later, where they remained through different league restructures until 1989. That year they won the Division One title, but were relegated due to a lack of floodlights at their ground.

In 2007, their 150th year, Sheffield finished runner-up in the league and were promoted to the Northern Premier League. That October, the club played anniversary matches against Inter and Ajax.

To mark their 160th anniversary, Sheffield will be hosting a legends match featuring a squad put together by ex-manager Dave McCarthy. Sheffield’s sponsor, Classic Football Shirts, released a limited edition heritage kit based off of the earliest known designs for the club.


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