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Club News

40 years since cricket was stumped

7 August 2013

Today is a special day in the history of Bramall Lane - it is exactly 40 years since the last competitive cricket fixture was staged here.

On 4th, 6th and 7th August 1973, Yorkshire played old rivals Lancashire in a drawn fixture.

In an article originally published in Tuesday night's match programme, Blades historian, John Garrett, looks back...

"The very origins of the ground, which is the oldest professional football venue in the world, lie in the roots of cricket.
The idea for a major enclosure in Sheffield had been put forward at an 1854 meeting, held at the Adelphi Hotel which stood on the site now occupied by the Crucible Theatre in the middle of town - the idea being put forward by Michael J. Ellison - local cricket fanatic and Estate Agent for arguably the wealthiest land owner in Sheffield, the Duke of Norfolk.

There had been two other enclosures in the then town, one at Darnall and standing roughly where the roundabout is halfway down Prince of Wales Road, the other at Hyde Park - neither had been of the standard required to further progress the sport in Sheffield. The phrase coined and referring to the poor living conditions at the time was to be that the land made available should be 'free from smoke'.

The best piece of land the Duke had available at that time and free from any real major natural defects was to become known as Bramall Lane.

A Sheffield United Cricket Club, comprising of a selection of local teams playing under one banner, would be its tenants and later, following another meeting at the Adelphi, the Lane would become the first home of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

The ground saw many great games and became a Test Match venue in 1902, making it the only Football League ground to have staged such an event. The turn of the century saw Yorkshire move their base to Headingley, but county games were still staged. Accounts from the period show that cricket struggled to make money, whereas football really took a hold.

By the 1960s it had become increasingly clear that, to forge a way forward in top flight football, Bramall Lane needed to have a four-sided stadium and plans were afoot for the end of cricket at the famous venue. The deal to build the South Stand was signed and August saw Lancashire as the final opponents at the ground - in effect, the baby threw its mother out of the home.

The stumps went up for the last time - the match was a draw - and a vital part of Sheffield history came to an end. Some games have been played at Abbeydale down the years but even that now seems a distant memory.

An incredible 40 years have passed since the stumps went up for the last time on the legendary wicket and the grinders stand is no more, but all at Bramall Lane acknowledge what an important part of the Blades DNA is indebted to the sport.
It is great to see that one of ours, in the shape of Yorkshire's Joe Root, flying the Sheffield flag once more from the City in which the County Club was born - Bramall Lane still playing indirectly a part in the game!"

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