According to Guinness World Records, the oldest football ground is Sandygate, a small, 1,000-capacity stadium situated in the suburb of Crosspool, to the west of Sheffield city centre. The ground was originally built in 1804, but has been the home of Hallam Football Club, which currently in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division, since its foundation in 1860.
Sandygate may be the oldest football ground in the world, but Hallam FC is not, in fact, the oldest football club in the world. According to the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), that honour belongs to nearby Sheffield Football Club, who currently play in the Northern Premier League Division One East. Sheffield FC was founded in 1857, three years before Hallam FC, but encouraged the formation of the latter club, leading to a challenge match between the two, at Sandygate, on December 26, 1860.
The ‘Rules Derby’ – so-called because it originally played under a code of rules drawn up by Sheffield FC in 1858, prior to the formation of the Football Association (FA) in 1863 – is no longer a regular fixture, not least because Sheffield FC currently compete in the tier above their neighbours. However, the teams routinely meet in pre-season friendly matches, both at Sandygate and at the aptly-named Home of Football Stadium in the town of Dronfield, seven miles or so down the A61 from Sheffield city centre, where Sheffield FC is based. Richard Tims, Chairman of Sheffield FC for over 25 years, said of the fixture, ‘It’s a great derby and a great tradition, one which has forever been based on football’s original values of integrity, respect and community.’