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Bramall Lane – a venue of sporting firsts

1 July 2018

Bramall Lane - Sheffield United Football Club's home - is rich in history. It remains one of the oldest grounds in the world still used for professional football.

The idea of Bramall Lane came from the mind of a champion of cricket from Sheffield, Michael J. Ellison. In 1854, he was the primary driving force behind the idea of having a new first-class cricket and sporting venue for the city, giving six of the local leading clubs an enclosure to be proud of.

The meeting that saw this vision rubber-stamped took place at the Adelphi Hotel, a long lost gem that sat on the current site of the world-famous Crucible theatre. Ellison put forward the notion that he wanted an area made good for sport to be 'free from smoke' - an indication of how poor the living conditions were in Sheffield at that point.

The Bramall Lane ground opened in 1855 with a cricket match that saw 'the 11' play 'the 22' - the lease for the land was taken on by the Ground Committee on a 100 year lease at the cost of £70 per annum.

It saw its first football match take place on 29th December 1862 - incidentally, it was also possibly the first ever charity game in football as Sheffield FC played Hallam FC to raise monies for the 'Lancashire Mills Distress Fund'. The game lasted for three hours and finished in a 0-0 draw!

This changed the face of Sheffield football forever. After that game took place, the world-changing sporting events at the ground came thick and fast.

Here are some of its impressive records:

  • 1867
    The first ever football cup final, the Youdan Cup, takes place at Bramall Lane and is won by Hallam FC.
  • 1878
    The first game of football in history played under floodlights takes place between 'The Reds' and 'The Blues' (Sheffield FC and Hallam).
  • 1883
    England play Scotland at the Lane - one of the first international games between the two old enemies to take place outside of London or Glasgow.
  • 1883
    The fixed crossbar is used for the first time - again, at Bramall Lane.
  • 1889
    Sheffield's first FA Cup semi-final is held at the stadium between Preston North End and West Bromwich Albion. The gate receipts of in excess of £500 finally push the Ground Committee into accepting that they need their own club to be resident at the stadium - as a result, Sheffield United FC is born.
  • 1901
    The John Street stand, designed by football stadia pioneers Leitch and Davis of Glasgow opens - state of the art and the envy of the game, it is their first commission outside of Scotland, containing every major innovation conceivable at that time.
  • 1902
    Bramall Lane hosts a cricket Test Match between England and Australia.
  • 1912
    The FA Cup Final replay between Barnsley and West Bromwich Albion takes place at the stadium. Bramall Lane is one of only two venues to have hosted this prestigious final and an Ashes Test, along with the Kennington Oval.
  • 1936
    Its record crowd sees a reported 68,500 watch the FA Cup fifth round game between the Blades and Leeds United - a gate is forced in the corner of Shoreham Street and Cherry Street that sees thousand flood in on the cricket side of the ground.
  • 1940
    Bramall Lane is severely damaged in December during the Sheffield blitz.
  • 1973
    The wicket finally falls forever as Bramall Lane sees its last ever cricket match in August between Yorkshire and Lancashire. The new South Stand - at that time the most expensive commissioned in the game, rises over the south side of the ground.
  • 1992
    Brian Deane scores the first ever Premier League goal in front of the Kop against Manchester United.

Bramall Lane is well known for football and cricket, but a number of other sports have taken place at the ground including cycling, rugby, basketball, baseball, tennis, archery, crown green bowling, skating, athletics and boxing. Not forgetting, rock concerts, evangelist rallies and many other special events.

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