Lot 10
  • 10

Sheffield Football Club.

800,000 - 1,200,000 GBP
881,250 GBP
bidding is closed


  • <U>The birth of modern football.</U> The earliest rules and historic archive of the world's first football club
including the first version of their laws of football, detailed minute books and other documents recording the development of the game in its earliest years, match reports of some of the first inter-club football matches, and other items. Preceding the foundation of the Football Association by six years and acknowledged by both FIFA and the FA as the world's oldest football club, Sheffield FC played a crucial part in the development of the modern game. Many of football's rules were innovations of Sheffield FC including the indirect free kick, the corner kick, and the crossbar. The club, and the game it inspired in the region in the early 1860s, was also the first expression of modern footballing culture: the first time football was revealed as an unrivalled spectator sport, that the excitement of inter-club competition was first experienced, and that the football fan first revealed his loyalty and passion.

The archive comprises:

1) Manuscript minute book, May 1858 to early 1859, "S[heffield] F[oot] B[all] C[lub] Sports (i)  1858 List of Entries Names of Winners Prizes Rules and Statement of Subscribers and Expenses" inscribed on upper cover, including results of the sports day, subscription list, club membership list, audited accounts (expenses including the purchase of footballs, beer, and other sundries), newspaper cuttings ("Athletic Sports Amongst the Gentlemen of Sheffield"), minutes of a series of club meetings held to establish the club rules and the laws of the game of football, beginning with a copy letter by Nathaniel Creswick, 9 October 1858, calling a meeting of the club at his office "on Thursday next at 7 O Clock", continuing with minutes of that first meeting including the resolution that "the following Rules & Laws be submitted to a meeting of the Members to be held at 6 O'Clock on Thursday next the 28 inst. at the Adelphi Hotel", and with a draft of four club rules ("...Rules and Regulations for the Government of the Sheffield Foot Ball Club, Established 1857 1. That this Club be called the Sheffield Foot Ball Club..."), minutes of a meeting on 14 October appointing club officers and committee signed by the Chairman Frederic Ward , minutes of a committee meeting 21 October with drafts of nine club rules and the first draft of the laws of the game, with 12 laws, extensively revised in pen and pencil, minutes of a meeting on 28 October passing the above rules and laws, and including further revision of the laws, 81 pages plus 29 blanks, 8vo (178 x 113 mm), in grey paper wrappers, covers with nicks, tears, ink and dust stains, spine lost, loss of binding thread leaving some gatherings loose

2) Club minute book, February 1859 to October 1860, "Sheffield Foot Ball Club Season 1858-9" inscribed on title-page, with results of the 1859 sports day, press cuttings on the sports day and on the involvement of the club in the establishment of a militia rifle corps, minutes of meetings, subscriptions and expenses, 109 pages plus 58 blanks, 8vo (180 x 115 mm), limp brown roan, marbled endpapers, light staining to some leaves

3) Club minute book 1864-1868, with full text of annual reports on the previous season ("...In one of the out matches, that with London, you suffered the most severe defeat it has ever been your misfortune to encounter, but it is to be hoped that you will return the compliment this season. It is gratifying to be able to remark that in the match against Notts: played at Sheffield on the 15th of March, you beat the Notts players quite as thoroughly as the Londoners beat you, and in the match which was played at Nottingham on the 25th of January, 12 of your players contended for an hour and a half against 15 Notts men, & when at last a goal was obtained by the latter, your representative also obtained a goal in five kicks...", from the report on the 1865-66 season), and minutes of resolutions at annual general meetings and regular committee meetings including revisions to the laws ("...for the future we play the offside rule, but if the other Sheffd Clubs do not adopt the same rule, we play our Matches with them according to our present rules...", 25 September 1865) and other innovations including the adoption of a club uniform ("...Scarlet cap, Scarlet Jersey,  & White Trousers..."), sports day results, newspaper cuttings, including of the Football Association's AGM on 24 February 1866, c.235 pages, plus blanks, 8vo (180 x 114mm), half calf on marbled boards, marbled endpapers, binding worn with loss at spine, spine cracked, some leaves coming loose

4) Notebook of match reports 22 February 1862 to 13 January 1866,
detailing date, opposition, number of players, names of Sheffield players, occasionally the names of opposing team-members, location, results, comments such as the use of unusual rules (e.g. 9 May 1863 v. Garrison "allowed striking & throwing the ball", 28 October 1865 v. Mackenzie "played the offside rules", 11 November 1865 vs. Norton "Played at East Bank to the old rules"), and cuttings including perhaps the earliest accounts of the boisterous behaviour of football fans ("...[Hallam] appeared to have many partisans present, and when they succeeded in 'downing' a man, their ardent friends were noisily jubilant. At one time it appeared likely that the match would be turned into a general fight...", Sheffield FC v. Hallam, 29 December 1862 ) and other comments ("...some smart play ensued when Chesterman for Sheffield cleverly obtained a goal amidst the cheers of the spectators...", Sheffield FC v. Lincoln, 25 February 1865), detailing fixtures against Lincoln, Notts County, Norton, Hallam, Pitsmoor, York, Garrison, Norfolk, and Mackenzie, with the name and address of H.W. Chambers, Honorary Secretary of the club, on rear free endpapers, 63 pages, plus blanks, 8vo (154 x 96mm), limp roan, some damp staining, marginal tears to three leaves affecting text, loss of binding thread leaving one bifolium almost loose

5) Rules, Regulations, & Laws of the Sheffield Foot-Ball Club, a list of members, &c. Sheffield: Pawson and Brailsford, 1859first edition, 16mo (122 x 77 mm), the only known surviving copy of the first printing of the first club's laws of football

6) Rules, Regulations, & Laws of the Sheffield Foot-Ball Club, and List of Members, &c. Sheffield: Pawson and Brailsford, 1862, revised edition, 16mo (120 x 80 mm), the only known copy of the revised and expanded laws of football

7) The Laws of Football, as Re-Settled by the Sheffield Football Association, At the General Meeting, held at the Adelphi Hotel, February 25th, 1875. Season 1875-6. Sheffield: J. Robertshaw, [1876], 16mo (100 x 75mm), lilac wrappers

8) File of later correspondence and draft articles on the early history of Sheffield Football Club, comprising: A.J. Creswick, autograph letter signed, to H.B. Willey, "...I remember the first game in Mr [Thomas] Turners field at East bank and played in it in /57...", 1 page, 8vo, 28 October 1907; John Charles Shaw, two autograph letters signed, to J.C. Bingham, reminiscing on the beginnings of Sheffield FC and the writer's foundation of Hallam FC, and arranging an interview, 6 pages, 8vo, 18-31 October 1907; John C. Bingham, typed letter signed, to H.B. Willey, forwarding Shaw's letter and with his own memories of the sports days, 1 page, 4to, 23 October 1907; William Chesterman, autograph note signed, to H.B. Willey, with enclosed typescript note of his recollections of the birth of football, 2 pages, 28 March [c.1907]; Henry Pawson, typed letter signed, to H.B. Willey, on photographs of early members of the club, 2 pages, 4to, 20 November 1907; H.B. Willey, autograph letter signed, to Pawson, 1 page, 8vo, 6 December 1907; John N. Deansfield, autograph letter signed, to Henry Chambers, on the club's origins ("...Nathaniel Creswick was their first captain. I believe John Charles Shaw a Penistone man and who before going to Sheffield ... was in my father's office at Penistone and regularly played football ... in one of my father's fields ... Soon after the formation of the Sheffield Club he went to reside at Sandgate and formed the Hallam Club..."), 4 pages, 4to, 2 March 1928; Henry Chambers, typed letter signed, to J.S. Lycett, forwarding Dransfield's letter, one page, 4to, 20 February 1934; Thomas Vickers, autograph letter signed, to J.S. Lycett, emphasising the roles of Prest and Creswick in the foundation of the club, 2 pages, 8vo, 27 October 1934; manuscript historical notes on the history of the club, 3 pages, foolscap, c.1907; typescript notes on the history of the club written at the time of its 50th anniversary, two copies, manuscript revisions, in total 17 pages, foolscap, 1907, dust staining to some items and occasional nicks and tears