Clegg Shield: The Oldest School Tournament in the World still being competed for on an annual basis. The first final played this day 128 years ago.

On the 4th of September 1889 a meeting was held at the Central Café in Sheffield’s High Street to discuss the ‘desirability of offering a Challenge Shield for competition between the elementary schools of the town run on the same lines that have guided the Birmingham Junior Challenge Shield.’

On the 21st September 1889 at the Sheffield and District Teachers Association a Mr Champley proposed a football competition between the boys of Sheffield Elementary schools and the decision was confirmed at a meeting on the 7th October with any proceeds raised going to the Teachers Orphanage at Firs Hill. ‘His Worship the Mayor has generously agreed to give a shield for the competition’.

By the 28th October 1889 the newly formed Elementary Schools Football Association announced the launch of the Clegg Challenge Shield. A competition open to all the elementary schools in Sheffield and District to play for a trophy donated by William J. Clegg.

Clearly Birmingham launched the first such school boy tournament, but Sheffield can rightly claim that the Clegg Shield is the Oldest School Tournament in the World still being competed for on an annual basis.

The first final was played on 29th March 1890 at Wednesday’s Olive Grove Ground and won by Thurlstone by two goals to nil against Rotherham. The match was refereed by William J. Clegg who presumably went on to present the Clegg Shield after the match to the Thurlstone boys.

The Olive Grove ground is part of the new Sheffield Home of Football app coming out on the 8th April. Book a place at the launch event here:

On the 3rd May 1890 a team of Sheffield boys took on a London team losing one nil to the “bigger boys” at the Olive grove ground. Once again in the match report below we see the presence of Charles Stokes the man who the year before had been responsible for the foundation of Sheffield United FC.


For the last few years the final of the Clegg Shield has been played at Bramall Lane and a certain Kyle Walker was a losing finalist for his High Storrs team against Tapton school. (From the Clegg Shield to the Champions League and the World Cup via time at Sheffield United FC.)

Newfield School, winners of the Clegg Shield 2017, Sheffield, United Kingdom, 9th May 2017. Photo by Glenn Ashley.

This year the semi-finalists are year 11 boys from:

Tapton v Westfield

Ecclesfield v Bradfield

And the matches will be played on the 18th and 19th April on neutral grounds and there is more information at this website:

Why not go along and see the future world cup football stars of Sheffield?

With thanks to Andy Davis at Tapton School for the current information and the fantastic photographs.

More on the history can be found at

A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1889: Speed, Science and Bottom

Link to book page –