Football in Yorkshire

Yorkshire loves its football, and is the undisputed birthplace of the modern club game! The area is home to some of the biggest names in the sport, and you’ll find exciting action on offer every week of the season.

Barnsley Football Club

Barnsley Football Club were founded in 1887 and are one of five professional clubs from South Yorkshire. They are one of the three South Yorkshire sides to have played in the Premier League. Their home ground, Oakwell is the centre of a multi-purpose sports development right in the centre of town. The Tykes’ single top-flight campaign came in 1997/98 when a side filled with local lads including Chris Morgan and Scott Jones finished 19th. 

Players local to Barnsley have often thrived in the Barnsley academy. Barnsley academy exports include England international John Stones, Jacob Brown and Rueben Noble-Lazarus. The latter was the Football League’s youngest-ever appearance maker at 15 years old in 2008.

The Tykes have a fierce rivalry with their neighbours from just up the M1, Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United – creating a fantastic spectacle when the sides play each other.  

Barnsley reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup in 2006 – beating Liverpool and Chelsea on the way – the club has won the FA Cup once, back in 1910. In the 2019/20 season, Barnsley finished one place above the relegation zone after Wigan Athletic were given a points deduction – ultimately saving the Tykes from the drop.  

The next season, under the new management of Valérien Ismaël, they were almost promoted as he led the club to the 2020/21 Championship Play-Off semi-finals, but they lost to Swansea City over two legs. 

Bradford City Football Club

Bradford City started existence in 1903, they won the FA Cup just eight years later when they beat Newcastle United at Old Trafford via a single goal from Jimmy Speirs. The Bantams play their home games at Valley Parade which has a capacity of over 25,000. The stadium has a place in football history, promotion celebrations turned into a tragic event when 56 supporters lost their lives in the Bradford City stadium fire in 1985. 

The Bantams got promoted to the Premier League in 1999. They spent two seasons in the English top-flight, surviving relegation on the last day of their first year in the league – David Wetherall scored a winner against Liverpool to keep City up. In their second season, Stan Collymore, Benito Carbone, and Ashley Ward joined Bradford, but even those big names couldn’t keep the club in the Premier League as they were relegated 2001. 

City have not returned to the top division of English football since their bow out in 2001, but the Bantams have had some historic days in cup competitions such as the 2012/13 League Cup where they reached the final at Wembley Stadium. Along the way, League Two Bradford beat Arsenal, Aston Villa, and Wigan who were all in the 2012/13 Premier League, before losing in the final to Swansea City. Later in the 2014/15 campaign, City beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup, the Bantams fell 2-0 behind after 38 minutes. Before goals from Jon Stead, Filipe Morais, Andy Halliday, and Mark Yeates gave the club a 4-2 win against that season’s Premier League winners. 

When it comes to Bradford City legends, there aren’t many like the Yorkshire-born Stuart McCall – who played over 400 games for the club, and then managed the Bantams on four different occasions. McCall won two promotions while a player at Valley Parade, and captained the side aged 21. As a manager, Stuart took Bradford to the 2017 League One play-off final where the Bantams narrowly lost to Millwall. During McCall’s time managing City, he signed Luke Hendrie who was the son of fellow club legend John Hendrie. 

Doncaster Rovers Football Club 

Doncaster Rovers were founded in 1879 and have played at the Keepmoat Stadium since 2007. Before the Keepmoat opened, Doncaster’s home ground was Belle Vue between 1922 and 2006. Their home strip is red and white hoops which has been the main design of the club’s shirt since 2001, and those hoops have seen five years of Championship football – the highest division ever played by the South Yorkshiremen.  

They had a consistent team when they were in the Championship, James Coppinger, Martin Woods, and James O’Connor all enjoyed long stints at the Keepmoat. 

During the 2011/12 Championship season, Rovers surprised many as the club pulled off experienced Premier League signings including former Liverpool striker El Hadj-Diouf. The associated Doncaster Rovers Belles L.F.C. are one of the most successful women’s clubs in English football, with six FA Women’s Cup, and 16 other honours to their name. Former men’s team player Andy Butler is the manager of the Belles. 

F.C Halifax Town 

The club are nicknamed the Shaymen because they play at the Shay Stadium; which has a capacity over 14 thousand and is a ground share with Halifax Panthers RFL. FC Halifax Town were born in 2008 after Halifax Town Association Football Club went into administration in the 2007/08 season. 

Halifax Town AFC had participated in the Football League; however, the new FC Halifax are yet to compete in the Football League, though they do operate within a full-time professional model. One of the greatest days in the history of FC Halifax Town came when the side beat Grimsby Town 1-0 at Wembley to win the 2016 FA Trophy – a goal from Scott McManus was enough for the West Yorkshire outfit. 

Town’s trophy cabinet has seen some silverware since their reformation, including the 2012/13 West Riding County Cup. The club also achieved three promotions in four years between 2009 and 2013, they progressed from Northern Premier League Division One North to the National League. They came close to joining the Football League in 2020, but lost a National League Play-Off Eliminator tie to Boreham Wood. 

The blue and whites have had a number of well-known players in both versions of the club including Jamie Vardy, Lee Gregory, Geoff Horsfield, and David Brooks.  

Harrogate Town AFC 

The club was due to form in 1914 with the name Harrogate AFC, however, things were put on hold due to the first world war and Harrogate Town AFC was officially formed for the 1919/20 season to play in the West Riding League. 

The vast-amount of Harrogate’s history has been in non-league football, and it was only in 2020 when they first played in the professional league – 106 years into their playing history as a club. Simon Weaver, the manager who brought them to League Two, has been in his position since 2009 – taking the hot seat when the club was in the National League North. He managed the side to promotion to the National League in 2018, before guiding the club to League Two after a 3-1 win against Notts County in the National League Play-Off final at Wembley in 2020. 

Harrogate have done a great job at bringing Yorkshire-born players to their 5,000-capacity stadium Wetherby Road. During the 2021/22 season, the club had nine Yorkshiremen: Connor Kirby, Warren Burrell, Aaron Martin, and Rory McArdle (from South Yorkshire); Mark Oxley, Ryan Fallowfield, and Joe Cracknell (from East Yorkshire); Josh Falkingham and Will Smith (from West Yorkshire). 

Town won their first Football League game 4-0 away at Southend United, and the club comfortably survived relegation in their first season in League Two. The once non-league minnows have progressed season-by-season and now may find themselves as an established Football League club.  

Huddersfield Town Football Club

Huddersfield Town was founded in 1908. They were the first West Yorkshire side to win three successive league titles in 1924, 1925 and 1926. The Terriers have played in several FA Cup finals and have even won once – Billy Smith scored to give Town a 1-0 victory over Preston North End in 1922. Since 1994, Huddersfield have played at the Kirklees Stadium, which is a groundshare with Rugby League’s Huddersfield Giants. Before moving to their 24-thousand-seater stadium, Town played at Leeds Road which was the home of the club from 1908. 

As well as having a long and illustrious history, the West Yorkshire team had plenty to shout about on 29th May 2017, the Terriers booked their place back into the top-flight, the teams first trip to the top since it was rebranded to the Premier League. After a successful league campaign, Town finished fifth and beat Sheffield Wednesday over two-legs in the Play-Off semi-finals. Subsequently, they then faced Reading in the final at Wembley, Huddersfield drew 0-0 before winning 4-3 on penalties – Christopher Schindler scored the decisive spot-kick. 

The Terriers finished 16th in their first Premier League campaign and had a notable 2-1 victory over Manchester United at the Kirklees Stadium early in the 2017/18 season. Sadly, the fairy tale was over for Town the following year as they crashed out the top-flight finishing at the bottom of the league. 

The blue and whites have had many well-known players at the club such as Bobby Campbell, Peter Jackson, Jonas Lossl, Aaron Mooy, and Laurent Depoitre. 

Hull City

Founded in 1904, Hull City are the only professional football team in the East Riding of Yorkshire. They have played at the MKM Stadium since 2002 – a groundshare with Rugby Super League’s Hull FC. Before their move to the (approximately) £44 million stadium, the Tigers had home games at Boothferry Park for over 50 years, which was infamously bombed during World War Two, and remains of the ground still exist after it was demolished in 2010. The MKM Stadium is easily accessed from the M62 and by public transport. 

On the pitch, the black and amber stripes have had relatively recent success, including a visit to Wembley Stadium for the 2014 FA Cup final where the Tigers were unfortunately defeated 3-2 by Arsenal. Although, Hull got off to a perfect start in the match as defenders James Chester and Curtis Davies sent the East Yorkshire side to a 2-0 lead inside ten minutes, before Santi Cazorla, Laurent Koscielny, and Aaron Ramsey scored to complete Arsenal’s turnaround. 

However, one unsuccessful trip to Wembley doesn’t shade a cloud over their three other visits that have all led to victories. The first was a Championship Play-Off final in 2008 against Bristol City – a Dean Windass volley fired Hull into the Premier League for the first time in their history. The Tigers winning Championship Play-Off finals by a goal-to-nil is a common theme as Mohamed Diame’s strike against Sheffield Wednesday in 2016 took City back to the Premier League. Sticking with the steel city, the Tigers have also beaten Sheffield United underneath the arch; with a 5-3 thriller in the FA Cup semi-final before their match-up against the Gunners. 

As mentioned, Hull have been in the top-flight of English football five times: 2008/09; 2009/10; 2013/14; 2014/15; and 2016/17. During their stints in the Premier League there has been a host of proud Yorkshire-born footballers to play for the club such as Harry Maguire, brothers Andy and Michael Dawson, and Nicky Barmby. 

The club were promoted back to the Championship ahead of the 2021/22 season after a campaign in League One; which was their first time outside of the top two divisions since 2005. Hull’s managerial team have done a stellar job at bringing through and recruiting local lads like Keane Lewis-Potter, Lewie Coyle, Jacob Greaves, and Billy Chadwick. 

Leeds United

Leeds United is one of the great names in English football and, while their recent hard times have been much talked about and well documented, surely it is only a matter of time before they return to the upper echelons of the game.

“The Whites” have competed at the top level for most of their existence, and they even once shared a Champions League semi-final field with Barcelona. Don Revie’s legendary side of the 1960s and 70s won domestic and European trophies, and no doubt the Elland Road club is aiming one day to return to the big stage.

Leeds is the only club in Yorkshire’s biggest city, and attracts a huge following of loyal supporters, creating an intimidating atmosphere for opposition teams, even as they ply their trade in the lower leagues. 

Situated in Beeston to the south of Leeds city centre, the impressive Elland Road stadium is easy to get to via bus links from the city centre.

Leeds Utd are Yorkshire’s only Premier League club, after winning promotion, taking their place in the league for the first time in 16 years, in the 2020/21 season, finishing in an incredible ninth place.

They have since stayed in the division, and will be in the division once more in 2022/23, after narrowly avoiding relegation, in the fourth from bottom spot in 2021/22.

Middlesbrough FC

The highest ranked football club in North Yorkshire, Middlesbrough was formed by members of Middlesbrough Cricket Club during a meeting at the Albert Park Hotel in 1876. As history goes, Boro are one of the founding members of the Premier League – where they have spent 15 seasons of their history. The club’s home has been the Riverside Stadium since 1995 – the capacity has grown over the years and is up to around 35 thousand. 

One of Middlesbrough’s most important successes of recent times came in 2004, a brilliant cup run was finished off by a remarkable win at Wembley to see Boro lift the League Cup for the first time. A side which included Bolo Zenden, Gaizka Mendieta, and Juninho beat Bolton Wanderers 2-1.   

In the 2004/05 Premier League season, Boro finished 7th which is the club’s highest finish in the top tier of English football. The following campaign was again successful as Middlesbrough reached the UEFA Cup final, but were defeated by Sevilla.  

Boro have had some spectacular players over the years including Harrogate-resident and England manager Gareth Southgate who played over 150 matches for the club and also represented Boro as manager from 2006 to 2009. Stewart Downing, Jonathan Woodgate, Fabrizio Ravanelli, and Ugo Ehiogu are all notable players who have appeared for the club. 

Rotherham United 

The Millers were founded in 1925 after Rotherham County and Rotherham Town merged to create one club. They initially wore yellow and black coloured kits before switching to their red and white. They played at Millmoor from 1925 to 2008, before moving to the Don Valley Stadium for four years, and then into the 12-thousand-seater New York Stadium in 2012.  

Rotherham won the 1996 Football League Trophy final when they defeated Shrewsbury Town 2-1 at Wembley Stadium. Nigel Jemson scored a brace for the South Yorkshire side before Mark Taylor got a consolation goal for the opponents. The Millers had well-known footballer Shaun Goater starting on the day, just before his move to Manchester City where he became a club idol for the now highly successful Premier League side. 

From 2013 to 2021, Rotherham changed their league status on seven occasions. They began 2012/13 in League Two – where they finished 2nd and moved up to League One. They were then promoted the following season when, Steve Evans guided the Millers to a successive promotion as they won the League One Play-Offs – defeating Leyton Orient 4-3 on penalties at Wembley Stadium. 

Evans had taken the Millers from League Two all the way to the Championship, and he kept the club there for the 2014/15 season, before leaving in September 2015 to manage Leeds. A carousel of management followed which saw Neil Redfearn, Neil Warnock, Alan Stubbs, and Kenny Jackett all take charge of the Millers. After another two years of Championship football they were relegated in 2017. Ahead of the 2017/18 season, Paul Warne was appointed permanent manager after he led the club on an interim basis for a period in the campaign prior.  

Warne took Rotherham back to the Championship in his first attempt through the League One Play-Offs beating Shrewsbury 2-1. The Millers then got relegated after one season back in the Championship – 2018/19. Then in 2019/20, they finished second in League One – returning to the Championship. Though they were relegated in the 2020/21 season. Rotherham’s mixed fortunes have established them as a Yo-Yo club, will they be able to find stability in the future? 

Sheffield United 

Sheffield United earned their nickname as The Blades due to their city’s global reputation as a leader in the steel business. United play at Bramall Lane which has a capacity of over 32 thousand, and the stadium saw Premier League football as recent as the 2020/21 season – the club’s 61st season in tier one of English football – their fifth since the league was rebranded to Premier League. 

Their main rivalry is with Sheffield Wednesday, and it gives a modern-day cutting edge to football life in the city that, quite literally, gave birth to club football. The matches between the two sides are labelled the ‘Steel City Derby’, and The Blades have been on the winning side over 45 times in more than 140 games played. 

As for the club, there is evidence that it was formed in 1889, by the members of an existing cricket club. The history doesn’t stop there, as the club have always played at the famous Bramall Lane. It’s also where you’ll hear The Blades’ own unique, unusual and unofficial club anthem filling the air before and after the game if things go well for the home team – ‘Greasy Chip Butty’. 

Sheffield United won the top division in 1898 and also the FA Cup four times in their history. They have also reached a League Cup semi-final in 2003, and obtained their highest ever finish in the Premier League when taking 9th in 2019/20. Notable recent players include Billy Sharp, Aaron Ramsdale, and Harry Maguire. 

Sheffield Wednesday

Sheffield Wednesday was founded in 1867 as Wednesday Football Club before changing to their current name in 1929. They are one of the oldest clubs in England, and in their history have won four top-tier titles and three FA Cups. The Owls play at Hillsborough, the famous 39,732-seater ground in the north-west of the city. 

Wednesday have played in European competitions before, including the Anglo-Italian Cup, UEFA Cup, and UEFA Intertoto Cup. The South Yorkshire side also competed in the Inter-Cities Faris Cup and finished as quarters finalists. The Owls fortunes domestically came early in their history when they won titles and FA Cups. 

The club won the League Cup in 1991, they defeated Manchester United at the original Wembley Stadium through a single goal from midfielder John Sheridan. Ron Atkinson who is commonly known as ‘Big Ron’ managed the team with a side that included Nigel Pearson, Danny Wilson, Trevor Francis, and Chris Turner – the latter three have gone on to manage the club.  

Hillsborough can be easily reached by car, bus, train or the tram, which stops a short walk from the ground. Some notable players that have represented the club at the famous stadium include Paulo Di Canio, Carlton Palmer, Dan Petrescu, and Chris Waddle.  

York City  

York City play are a non-league team founded in 1908 but folded seven seasons later. In  1922 York City reformed and have had three grounds since. They began life at Fulfordgate then moved to Bootham Crescent in 1932, which remained their home until 2020 when the club made the newly built York Community Stadium their ground. It took three years to make the 8,500-capacity stadium and the club ground share with York City Knights Rugby League. 

The club has also played a big role in helping to progress the careers of a number players, most notably Ben Godfrey, Martyn Woolford, Marco Gabbiadini, Nick Pope, and Clayton Donaldson. The latter returned to York in 2021 after first scoring over 40 goals in two years with Minstermen, Donaldson later played in the Championship with Birmingham City, Sheffield United and Bolton Wanderers, and for Brentford, Bradford City, and Hibernian before coming back to North Yorkshire. 

York’s two biggest honours in their history have come when winning the FA Trophy in 2012 and 2017. Their first victory came when Matty Blair and Lanre Oyebanjo scored a goal each to help the Minstermen beat Newport County 2-0 at Wembley Stadium. Then in 2017, the club headed back to London to face Macclesfield Town in front of 38-thousand fans, and they got off to the perfect start when Jon Parkin put York ahead after eight minutes. Macclesfield equalised shortly after, before Vadaine Oliver restored the Minstermen’s lead, and then for a second time Macclesfield pulled the game level before half time. York won the game four minutes from the end when Aidan Connolly scored to see the Minstermen win 3-2. 

The 2012/13 season marked York’s first time in the Football League since the league was rebranded to its new title. The North Yorkshire side spent several seasons in the professional leagues before being relegated back into non-league after the 2015/16 season. 

The world’s oldest football club…Sheffield F.C. 

On the 24th of October 1857 football was invented by Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest in the South Yorkshire city of Sheffield.  These two men wrote the rules and laws for the beautiful game and founded The World’s First Football Club.

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