The Blades will be at home in the opening fixture of the new season, it has been confirmed today (Tuesday). Notts County - the world's oldest Football League club - will be the opposition.
The Football League is to mark the 125th anniversary of its first season (1888/89) with a programme of special anniversary league fixtures to be played on the opening weekend of the 2013/14 campaign.
The six matches - two in each division - will feature a number of the founder members of the world's original league football competition, as well as other pairings of historical significance.
In the Championship, four founder members will go head-to-head with Derby County, League champions in 1972 and 1975 hosting Blackburn Rovers, champions of England in 1912, 1914 and 1995.
Lancashire rivals Burnley and Bolton Wanderers will face each other at Turf Moor, one of only three grounds used in the 1888/89 league season that is still in use today. The two clubs have met each other in league football on 114 occasions.
Another of the original grounds, Deepdale, will host the meeting of founder members Preston North End and Wolverhampton Wanderers in League 1. Since hosting its first league match on the opening day of the very first season, Deepdale has staged 2,342 Football League matches, more than any other stadium.
Also in League 1, the world's oldest Football League club, Notts County, will be the visitors at the world's oldest professional football ground when they are hosted by the Blades.
In League 2, Accrington Stanley will visit The Football League's newest ground and newest member - Rodney Parade the home of the re-formed Newport County. While Hartlepool United will visit Rochdale in the 137th encounter between the two clubs - the most played Football League match between current members.
In announcing the 125th Anniversary fixtures, Football League Chairman Greg Clarke said:
“For 125 years, Football League clubs have delivered a compelling spectacle, week after week. In the process, attracting a total audience of more than 2.2 billion people and building indelible relationships with their local communities.
“Our clubs and their supporters are the heartbeat of the domestic game, giving English league football a breadth and popularity that is unrivalled anywhere in the world.
“We look forward to celebrating 125 years of incredible matches, unforgettable moments and intense footballing rivalry.”
The remainder of the 2013/14 Football League fixture programme will be announced at 9am on Wednesday.
To find out more about the 125th Anniversary of The Football League visit FL125.co.uk
Anniversary Fixture Programme:
Championship Burnley v Bolton Wanderers Derby County v Blackburn Rovers
League 1 Preston North End v Wolverhampton Wanderers Sheffield United v Notts County
League 2 Newport County v Accrington Stanley Rochdale v Hartlepool United
(Dates & kick-off times subject to confirmation)
About The Celebrations
- The start of the League season will form the focus of The Football League's celebrations around its 125th anniversary. It marks the equivalent of when the 12 founder member teams kicked off the very first Football League season in 1888.
- So that every club is involved, The Football League will be giving fans a chance to interact and celebrate their club's part in The Football League's story, both online (a special 125th anniversary microsite has been launched at www.FL125.co.uk), through social media and at matches.
- From September until April (the duration of the inaugural season), the National Football Museum in Manchester will host a major new exhibition celebrating our anniversary, in which every Football League club will have an item featured.
About The Inaugural Season
Football League Founder Members
Accrington* Aston Villa Blackburn Rovers Bolton Wanderers Burnley Derby County Everton Notts County Preston North End Stoke** West Bromwich Albion Wolverhampton Wanderers
* Accrington resigned from The Football League in 1893 and Th' Owd Reds folded altogether in 1896. League football has returned to the Lancashire town in the form of Accrington Stanley (1921-1962 and 2006-present day)
** Stoke became Stoke City in 1925
- The first season of The Football League kicked-off on 8th September 1888, a bright sunny late summer afternoon.
- There were five matches on the opening Saturday, with Blackburn Rovers and Notts County having to wait a further week to make their League debuts.
- The games themselves looked very different to today. The referee stood on the touchline, acting as time-keeper and arbitrating between the two umpires (one supplied by each club) when they could not agree.
- At half time players stayed on the pitch for their 5 minute break. There were no numbers, goal nets or substitutes and goalkeepers wore the same kit as their outfield colleagues.
- The match of the day was at Bolton Wanderers' Pikes Lane ground where visitors Derby County won 6-3. At Deepdale, Preston North End triumphed 5-2 in their Lancashire derby with Burnley.
- The first 10,000 attendance was recorded for Everton's 2-1 win over Accrington at Anfield - their original home before relocating across Stanley Park.
- West Bromwich Albion's 2-0 victory against Stoke meant they would have headed the league table - had such a concept been invented at that point - on goal average (goal difference was not introduced until 1976)
- Also in the Midlands, Aston Villa's Gershom Cox scored The Football League's first ever own goal as his side drew 1-1 at Wolves
- A week later came the Football League's first 10-goal thriller - a 5-5 draw between Blackburn and Accrington.
- At that stage the rewards for the victors however were unclear as agreement wouldn't be reached on a points system for several months with some clubs wanting no points awarded for draws. Eventually two points for a win and one for a draw would find favour.
- Preston's 'Invincibles' were the League's first champions going unbeaten for the whole season and also picking up the FA Cup to become the first 'double' winners.
- Villa were the League's first runners-up, Stoke the first wooden spoonists although they were re-elected at the annual meeting in 1889 with Newton Heath, who would go on to become Manchester United, receiving just a single vote in their favour.
- Stoke's reprieve was short-lived, however, and at the end of the second season they lost their place to Sunderland.
About The Football League's 125th Anniversary - Background
- The anniversary period began on Saturday 2nd March which marked 125 years since League founder, William McGregor, sent his letter to clubs suggesting “that ten or twelve of the most prominent clubs in England combine to arrange home-and-away fixtures each season.”
- The Football League is the world's original league football competition. McGregor's letter was the catalyst for the beginning of league football, which 125 years later still dominates the sporting landscape in countries throughout the world.
- Three weeks after McGregor sent his letter (March 22) clubs met at Anderton's Hotel on Fleet Street in London to discuss McGregor's idea. This was followed by a further meeting on April 17 at the Royal Hotel, Manchester at which the name ‘The Football League' was agreed. This meeting took place only 500m away from where the National Football Museum exhibition will be held.