Sheffield Wednesday Football Club are one of the oldest professional clubs in the world with four League Championships, three FA Cup victories and a League Cup to their name. They have played at many different venues in and around the Sheffield area.
In 1820, The Wednesday Cricket Club was formed, taking their name from the day of the week when they played their matches.
In 1867, a footballing side of the club was established, mainly to keep the side together and fit in the winter months when they were not playing cricket. Very soon however, football became the main sport played by the club and the Wednesday, as they were then known, played their first competitive match a year later.
Highfield to Myrtle Road
|Early Wednesday Grounds|
The first home ground used was at Highfield. Located on London Road fairly close to the city centre, the Highfield library now occupies the site where the ground was believed to have been.
In the period up to 1870, the Wednesday also played home matches at Heeley and at Hunters Bar, but in that year moved the short distance to a site in Myrtle Road.
Again the actual location is uncertain but with Myrtle Road being on a steep hill the popular opinion is the ground was somewhere near the summit. Here they stayed for 7 years, until moving to Sheaf House in 1877 which remained the home ground for 3 years until 1880.
Bramall Lane to Sheaf House
In the period between 1880 and 1887, the main ground used was at Bramall Lane – now better known as the home of their bitter rivals Sheffield United FC.
Bramall Lane was also used for cricket by Yorkshire County Cricket Club for many years. During this time Sheaf House was also used on occasions, generally due to it being cheaper to rent, but the facilities were nowhere near as good as Bramall Lane.
The Sheaf House public house still stands at the corner of where the ground once was.
In 1887, along with the club turning professional, it was decided that the club should have its own stadium, as opposed to paying out percentages of their gate receipts as rent. They also needed a more permanent home to accommodate their ever growing fan base.
Close to Bramall Lane, by the railway on Queen’s Road, they managed to lease a piece of land from the Duke of Norfolk. Here they spent £5000 developing a ground which was to become known as Olive Grove.
At this location they entered the Football Alliance in 1889 which they won at their first attempt and finally joined the Football League in 1892. In 1899 however they had to leave Olive Grove as there were plans to expand the railway which ran alongside and their lease was not renewed. Just to make things worse, their last season at Olive Grove was not a success on the pitch and resulted in the clubs relegation from the 1st Division of the League.
Early in 1899, the Wednesday made a share issue in an attempt to raise capital to build a new stadium. 3 plans were put forward - a site at Carbrook in the north-east of the city, a site in the outlying village of Owlerton to the rural north-west or a return to Sheaf House.
Very soon both new sites fell through and it was considered a backward step to return to Sheaf House. As luck would have it, an alternative site in Owlerton became available and work soon started on building a new ground. Within months they were up and running and the Owlerton Stadium was complete and ready for the 1899-1900 season.
The Sheffield Wednesday Football Ground seen from Shirecliffe. 1.5 km to the east
In 1914, Owlerton became part of the Hillsborough constituency and the ground took on the constituency name. Hillsborough became one of the largest football stadia in the UK and had the distinction of hosting World Cup football in 1966, European Championship football in 1996 (Euro ’96) and 27 FA Cup semi-finals.
The Kop terrace became, at one stage, the largest covered stand at any football ground in Europe.
The 15th April 1989 will go down as one of the blackest days in the history of the club, the ground and English football. During an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, 96 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death when the Leppings Lane end terrace became overcrowded.
What is now referred to as the Hillsborough disaster was attributed to the local Police failing to adequately manage the crowd.
Hillsborough is now an all seater stadium holding a capacity of close on 40,000 which the club plan to increase to 50,000 by 2016.