Harry W. Chambers : Sheffield Football Club Legend

Harry W. Chambers started as a player for Sheffield FC and became the club’s Hon. Sec. and was the first ever president of the Sheffield Football Association in 1867.

In my new book ( http://bit.ly/2qYw0r0) I state that I hope that it marks the beginning of a conversation about the history of Sheffield Football and that it’s publication would generate new and interesting information about the early clubs and the people involved. The researchers at the Sheffield General Cemetery (off Ecclesall Road), have provided such an insight into Harry W. Chambers who is buried in their graveyard. I had experienced difficulties tracking down his last resting place because his accepted name in all the history books is Harry Waters Chambers, whereas in fact his name is Harry Walker Chambers.

At some point his middle name must have been misheard and it passed into folklore. In the F.A. Annuals and the Sheffield press, more often than not he was referred to as ‘H.W. Chambers’ but the wrong middle name threw my research off track until meeting with the researchers at the Sheffield General Cemetery, when it became clear that all the dates and family members fit the profile of their grave in the name of Harry Walker Chambers. You will see from this photograph that the family’s memorial is in very poor condition and the charity that now run the Sheffield General Cemetery are in great need of funds to look after their wonderful resource. Sheffield Council were guilty of tearing up many Victorian headstones in the 1970s to use for general rubble, so we should be grateful that Harry’s dilapidated grave still exists.


Harry Walker Chambers was born in in 1842, to John a solicitor who worked for a Brewery Association and by the 1851 census Harry was listed as a scholar at a school in Clapton, called Kingston House and his home was noted as Sheffield. When Sheffield FC was formed he was just 15 years old and according to their records it was Harry’s home, Parkfield House (near Bramall Lane), that the inaugural meetings of the fledgling football club took place. I have been unable to find an address for Harry’s family for 1857 and one wonders whether he was actually playing at such a young age? At the age of 17 he is involved in the Sheffield Volunteer Movement, where his occupation is listed as an ‘attorney’s clerk’.

As a young man in his early twenties, he was Sheffield FC’s representative at the launch of the Football Association in 1863 and he holds the honour of playing in the very first official show game for the new laws played in Battersea Park on 9 January 1864; the members of the opposing teams for this game were chosen by the President of the F.A. (Pember) and the Secretary (Morley) and included many well-known footballers of the day, who had been selected by Charles W. Alcock.

“Where all played well, individual mention hardly within reasonable scope but Messrs. Pember, Hewett, Morley, Chambers and both the Alcock’s especially distinguished themselves. Mr. Chambers the able representative of the Sheffield Football club gave a capital taste of his quality. The President’s side after some spirited play obtained two goals, the final kick in each instance provided by Mr. CW Alcock. In the evening the members dined together at the Grosvenor Hotel, Pimlico under the presidency of Mr. A Pember ‘Success to football, irrespective of class or creed’ was heartily drunk and a most agreeable evening was passed.”

He was Sheffield FC’s third Hon. Sec, a position he held for many years whilst playing for the club at the same time. When the Sheffield Football Association was founded in 1867 he was elected the first president.

In 1869, he married his cousin Betsy Ella Chambers (1848-18/8/1936) and by the time of the 1871 census he was living with his wife at 33 Kenwood Road, Nether Edge, with a cook and a housemaid and was now a qualified solicitor and attorney. By the 1891 census they had moved to 182 Psalter Lane and had five children.

Harry Walker Chambers died on the 21st December 1907, with his address listed as Sharrow Hill House and left £8,404.00 in effects  joining his father and his grandfather in the family tomb at the Sheffield General Cemetery. Before it deteriorated the Chamber’s last resting place was a grand looking monument as you can see from this photograph held by the researchers at the cemetery.