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Non League Football Under The Microscope

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Eastbourne Borough fans celebrate - August Bank Holiday Monday 2003                                Photograph by Sam Hicks

Hallam FC

Sandygate Road, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S10 5SE
Telephone: 0114 2309484
Nickname: The Countrymen
Northern Counties East League

Note Sandygate is recognised by The Guiness Book of Records as the oldest football ground in the World, and has been the home to the ‘second oldest’ club, Hallam FC since its inception in 1860. The ground had been in use for cricket since as early as 1805 but it would appear that the first reported football match was between Hallam and the World’s oldest club Sheffield, on Boxing Day 1860.

At the time the ground was owned by the landlord of the Plough Inn opposite, which also doubled as changing rooms for the players. It is also thought that the pitch was also of a different orientation to its current position.

The old Plough Inn was demolished in 1929 and re-opened the following April and was used by both the football club and the local cricket club who co-habit to this day, then paying a rent of £18 per season for use of the ground. Both clubs now enjoy a 99 year lease on the ground, secured for £55,000 with a peppercorn rent. In 1932 however, the tenure of Hallam FC came to a premature end as other clubs began using the ground and it wasn’t until 1946 that the club secretary approached the new owner of the Plough with a view to using Sandygate again, which was agreed, with the club sharing with Fullwood FC, until the latter club left in 1951.

Remarkably for such an old venue there was no real development of any significant facilities until 1954 when the first stand was opened, permission having been granted by the new owners of the ground, Tennants Brewery. The players however contined to change in the pub until 1956 when a large wooden building was acquired. Further developments followed, including a post and rail on the three sided ground; and a pavilion in 1964.

In 1972 the club survived a major threat when they were notified by new owners Whitbreads that they were to sell surplus assets, including Sandygate. Fortunately, the brewery was unable to obtain planning permission for housing and the scheme came to nothing. Later the brewery was to provide financial assistance to allow repairs to the stand following storm damage.

The first game under floodlights was on 18 November 1992 vs Frickley Athletic. That same season 100 seats were installed in the stand, donated by Sheffield United FC following development of Bramall Lane. In 1999 however the current main stand replaced the original. The pitch has a pronounced slope from end-to-end, clearly visible from the picture of the stand (below). DB