On Monday 2nd May Hallam FC will play Sheffield FC in a special fixture to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the World’s oldest inter-club football fixture. This is as good a time as any to have a bit of a look back into the history of the Countrymen, as Hallam are known, and revisit the occasion of what is probably still their finest hour; their triumph in the World’s very first football tournament.
In 1867 a Sheffield theatre owner by the name of Thomas Youdan offered up a cup and some prize money so that local clubs could play what turned out to be the World’s first competitive cup-tie fixtures. Previously all games had been challenge matches with nothing at stake bar local pride and maybe a few pennies as a side bet. Twelve Sheffield clubs accepted the invitation to take part. Though the oldest amongst them Sheffield FC declined having decided earlier in 1867 to forsake the local game and play only games against teams from outside Sheffield in an effort to popularise the game on a national level. This isolationist policy, with the exception of two games against Sheffield Gymnasium in 1870, lasted until 1887.