There is a football stadium called Bramall Lane in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. It is now the home of Sheffield United, who has played there since 1889.
The stadium played host to most of Sheffield’s most important matches during the 19th century, including the final of the first football tournament in history, the first floodlit football match, and matches between the Sheffield and London Football Associations, which paved the way for the unification of the two football associations rules.
The Bramall Road leading to the stadium was named after the Bramall family. At the top of Lane, the Bramall family owned the Old White House on the corner of Bramall Lane and Cherry Street and subsequently built the Sheaf House, now a popular pub. The location of the cricket ground is close to the Sheffield city centre.
Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield FC also used it for major matches. In addition, no other soccer stadium older than Bramall Lane Sheffield still hosts professional football matches.
Whose Idea Was Bramall Lane Sheffield?
Michael J. Ellison, a champion of Sheffield cricket, came up with the idea for Bramall Lane. It was he who began pushing for the creation of a world-class cricket enclosure in 1854 that gave six of the city’s leading cricket clubs a place to call home.
This vision was rubber-stamped at the Adelphi Hotel, a long-lost gem that once stood on the site of the famed Crucible Theatre. A strong indication of how poor living conditions were in Sheffield at that point was Ellison’s idea that the Bramall Lane area is made good for sport and should be smoke-free.
The ground committee leased the land for £70 a year for a 100-year lease. As part of the opening ceremony, ‘the 11’ played ‘the 22’ in a cricket match.
There was the first-ever football match played by Sheffield FC against Hallam FC on 29th December 1862, which was possibly the first-ever charity match in football. After three hours, the game ended in a 0-0 draw!
Sheffield United Football Club
The Blades were founded in 1889 as an offshoot of Sheffield United Cricket Club. Their nickname comes from Sheffield’s history as a cutlery-producing city. Bramall Lane Sheffield has been their home stadium since their formation.
Sheffield United has worn red and white striped shirts. The Steel City derby is contested between them and Sheffield Wednesday, their main rivals.
Is Sheffield The Home Of Football
It is said that Sheffield is the home of association football. A game featuring six men on each side was played here as far back as 1793.
In December 1862, Bramall Lane Sheffield hosted its first football match. Two Sheffield clubs played against each other. A goalless draw resulted from the three-hour game between Sheffield FC and Hallam.
Despite being the oldest club in the Football Association, Sheffield FC is still in existence today.
Bramall Lane Sports Ground
In addition to hosting many important sporting events, Bramall Lane is one of the oldest sports enclosures in the world.
A cricket match between Yorkshire and Sussex was played here in 1855, and this was its first significant match. Sheffield United Cricket Club was founded in 1854, after which the Duke of Norfolk leased Bramall Lane to the club. Sheffield United Cricket Club opened the grounds on 30 April 1855. It was only used as a cricket ground for the first seven years.
Yorkshire County Cricket Club
Yorkshire County Cricket Club was founded in 1863 and was based at Bramall Lane prior to its official move to Headingly in 1903. Bramall Lane continued to host league and county cricket until 1973. Yorkshire played their old rivals Lancashire in their final County match on 7 August 1973.
A test match and an FA Cup Final have been played at Bramall Lane – a record held by only one other stadium, the Kennington Oval in London. England played Australia in a test match in 1902. Barnsley played West Bromwich Albion in the FA Cup Final in 1912, a match Barnsley won 1-0. The Sheffield ground hosted five international matches for the England national football team before 1930.
Early Football At Bramall Lane
Sheffield Wednesday initially used the ground on important occasions. Preston North End and West Bromwich Albion played in the FA Cup semi-final at Bramall Lane on 16 March 1889. There were gate receipts of £574, a large amount of money in those days.
In response to this, Charles Stokes, then a junior member of the ground committee, suggested to Charles Clegg (who was then president of the FA and president of Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United) that Sheffield United Football Club should be formed at Bramall Lane.
The Formation Of A New Football Club
A meeting was held on 22 March 1889, and a decision was made to form a football team with Sheffield United Cricket Club. The tenants of Bramall Lane had to create a new team to generate income since Sheffield Wednesday had moved from Bramall Lane to Olive Grove following a dispute over gate receipts.
Charles Clegg, the president of the Cricket Club and Sheffield Wednesday at this time, was voted to be the president of the newly-formed Sheffield United. Initially, it was difficult to find players, but the Club Secretary announced on 29 May 1889 that they had signed a full complement of players due to an advertising campaign.
In August 1889, the club won 3-1 against Sheffield FC to begin its first season. Sheffield United also made its first FA Cup appearance that year. Their heaviest defeat was a 13-0 loss to Bolton Wanderers in the Second Round proper, after winning four preliminary or qualifying ties and beating Burnley Football Club in the first round.
Sheffield United In The Football League
United was allotted a spot in the Second Division (the First Division had begun in 1888) when the Football League decided to form it. Through a playoff in 1893, they were promoted to the First Division and remained there until 1934, uninterrupted.
Many famous soccer players wore red-and-white shirts and played at Bramall Lane during these early years. A total of 12 international players were on the club’s books in 1903. During this time, Sheffield United won the First Division Championship once in 1898 and the FA Cup four times.
The first victory was against Derby County (4-1 in 1899), Southampton (2-1 in 1902 after a 1-1 draw); Chelsea (3-0 in 1915); and Cardiff City (1-0 in 1925).
In 1901 they lost 1-3 to Tottenham Hotspur after a 1-1 draw, and in 1936 they lost 0-1 to Arsenal. Billy Gillespie, United’s most capped player, represented Ireland on 25 occasions during the 1920s. Tunstall, Mercer, Matthews, Green, Gough, and Dunne were other international players at this time.
In 1936, the record attendance at Bramall Lane was in excess of 68,000 for an FA Cup fifth-round game against Leeds United. In 1939, United returned to the First Division after being relegated in 1934. The gate at Shoreham Street and Cherry Street is forced open, allowing thousands more spectators to flood in.
Post War Era
As a result of the German bombing during the Blitz of December 1940, Bramall Lane was severely damaged. Large sections of the pitch were destroyed and roofs were blown off the new John Street Stand and Shoreham Street Kop end.
Many consider Jimmy Hagan the best player ever to play at Bramall Lane Sheffield in the immediate post-World War II period. From 1949 to 1976, Sheffield United moved into the First Division or back to the Second Division seven times.
In 1971, they had their most memorable post-war run. United dominated the First Division with six victories and five draws from their last eleven matches to win promotion in 1970/71. They were led by players such as Currie, Badger, and Woodward, who won eight and drew two of their first ten games. United had a 22-match unbeaten run, including one League Cup victory.
Bramall Lane Venue Changes
This success brought to head the long-standing debate over whether football and cricket should be played at the same ground; a new stand was constructed to expand what was essentially a three-sided stadium into a four-sided one.
As Yorkshire and Lancashire play their last cricket match at Bramall Lane in August 1973, the cricket wicket falls forever.
In 1975, this stand opened with 7746 more seats. Across the south side of the ground rises the new South Stand, which was at the time the most expensive stadium building in the world. With a total of 32,050 seats, Bramall Lane is now fit for the Premier League requirements.
The team suffered a slump in its fortunes at the same time. It was relegated to the Second Division in 1976 and again to the Fourth Division in 1981. During the season’s final game at Bramall Lane, a penalty kick was missed last minute, resulting in this ultimate disaster.
There could never have been a more dramatic or sad conclusion.
Dave Bassett And Neil Warnock
Then everything changed for the better. Sheffield United was promoted to the Third Division in 1982, to the Second Division in 1984, and then dropped back to the Third Division in 1988.
After winning promotion to the Second Division one more time the following season, under the leadership of manager Dave Bassett, they went on to win promotion to the First Division the following season.
Sheffield United and its home of Bramall Lane became a founding member of the Premier League in 1992. Against Manchester United, Brian Deane scores the first-ever Premier League goal in front of the Kop at Bramall Lane.
The dimensions of the soccer field were increased to 100 meters long and 66 meters wide. The Blades finished 14th that season.
Neil Warnock took over the club in December 1999 as they were struggling at the bottom of Division One. However, due to their excellent season in 2002–03, they reached the semi-finals of two domestic cups and reached the Division One playoff final, where they were defeated 3–0 by Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Nevertheless, Neil Warnock led the Blades and the fans of Bramall Lane to a top-flight finish in the 2nd Division (the Championship now) three years later.
The South Yorkshire club returned to the Premiership in 2006-2007 after spending 12 years in the lower divisions. However, they were only in the Premier League for one season before being relegated. Neil Warnock resigned from his position as manager after the Blades were relegated.
When Bramall Lane fans returned to the Championship, they struggled to adjust. Kevin Blackwell led the team to the championship playoff final in 2009, but the team then went into a period of decline.
The club employed three managers during one season during the 2010–11 campaign. In 1989, the club was relegated to League One under Micky Adams for the first time.
Despite reaching the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley in 2014, Sheffield United lost 5–3 to Hull City. The team reached the FA Cup quarterfinals and the Football League Cup semi-finals in 2014-15.
After winning the League One title with 100 points in 2016–17, United was promoted back to the second tier under manager Chris Wilder, a lifelong fan and former player. Bramall Lane had once again become a fortress.
Sheffield United achieved automatic promotion to the Premier League during the 2018-19 season. However, United finished ninth in its first season back in the Premier League. Since then, the club has returned to the Championship.
Bramall Lane Ground Today
The Bramall Lane stadium has been an all-seater football stadium since 1994 and has four main stands. Located directly behind the goal at Bramall Lane’s end (towards the city centre), the Bramall Lane stand is a two-tiered structure that was opened in 1966.
The Bramall Lane stand is currently the oldest stand at the venue.
Until 1975, Bramall Lane was a 3 stand ground with one side being an empty field for cricket with the cricket pavilion in the distance.
The South Stand was built and renamed the Tony Currie Stand. Since 1991, the Kop stand has been seated. It’s where the loudest home fans sit. The New John Street stand was completed in 1996 and serves as a family enclosure for home fans.
Making History On The Radio
On 22 January 1927, Sheffield United played another significant part in football history when they took part in the first-ever football game to be broadcasted live on radio. The match was against Arsenal at Highbury.
The Division One game was a 1-1 draw, with our goal being scored by club legend and captain Billy Gillespie. United Historian, John Garrett, says: “The Radio Times featured a pitch divided into ten squares, 2-8 for the outfield sections, the other 2 representing the goal areas – this meant the commentator could conjure a more accurate description for the listener of where the ball was in play at that time – in fact, the famous phrase ‘back to square one’ came from the ball being passed back to the goalkeeper.
“It is believed that the BBC chose the game due to the status of both clubs and the fact that Highbury was a short distance from the studios.
The crowd that day was just under 17,000 – a week earlier, Bramall Lane had the record for a league record attendance when 59,555 saw a 2-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday.”
Rhett is an Australian-born, globe trotter who is a UEFA ‘A’ Licence Soccer Coach. With his family, he has traveled and coached soccer in more than 30 countries, while attending World Cups, European Championships, and some of the biggest local derbies in the world!