It is one of the more unique names for a football team in the UK and probably the world.
So why are Sheffield Wednesday called Sheffield Wednesday?
Is it really as simple as it sounds? Or is there some deep and hidden reason behind the name?
We reveal all in this post.
So let’s get started…
Why Are Sheffield Wednesday Called Sheffield Wednesday?
In 1820 The Wednesday Cricket Club was founded in Sheffield. It was named after the afternoon games were played as workers traditionally only worked half a day on a Wednesday. In 1867 members of the cricket club voted to start a football club and The Wednesday Football Club was founded. In 1929 it officially changed its name to Sheffield Wednesday Football Club.
The Home of Football
Sheffield was a veritable hotbed of football in the 1850s.
Or as much of a hotbed as a city can be for a sport that has just formally started.
In 1857 Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest wanted to start a team that could keep their cricket club together during the winter.
The result was the foundation of Sheffield Football Club, still in existence and now recognised as the oldest club in the world.
In fact, Sheffield is home to the two oldest football clubs in the world, the other being Hallam FC, which was founded in 1860.
By 1860 there were 15 football clubs in Sheffield as the sport gained in popularity.
Sheffield Wednesday were a veritable latecomer to the party, being founded in 1867 as The Wednesday. It wasn’t until 1929 that the club officially became Sheffield Wednesday.
But where did this unusual name come from?
Well, the wheels were actually set in motion much earlier, way back in 1820…
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From Cricket to Football
It was then that the Wednesday Cricket Club was founded by six local tradesmen.
The name of the cricket club was taken from the day off of work that the founders had and thus was the only day that they could play.
The club went on to play an important role in 19th-century cricket with many prominent cricket players taking the field for them including Tom Armitage and George Ulyett who both took part in England’s first cricket tour of Australia in 1877.
It was ten years prior to this, on 4 September 1867, that from the Wednesday Cricket Club came the Wednesday Football Club.
It was on this date that a meeting was held to establish if there was enough interest amongst the members of the cricket club to form a football team.
The thought process was exactly the same as that of Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest when they formed Sheffield Football Club ten years earlier.
It was a way for the cricket team to stay together and keep fit over the winter months after the cricket season had finished.
A month later, in October 1867, the newly founded Wednesday Football Club took part in their first game beating The Mechanics Club in a game that took place at Norfolk Park in Dronfield.
Over the next decade, the football side of the club grew in popularity.
In 1882 a dispute over finances lead to the two factions going their separate ways and in 1925 the cricket club would cease to exist entirely.
But it left a lasting legacy in one of the most recognisable names in the history of football – Sheffield Wednesday Football Club.
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The Glory Years
The Wednesday Football Club were extremely successful in the early part of their history
In 1887 they became fully professional and in 1896 won the club’s first major honour, the FA Cup.
In 1903 and 1904 they won two successive First Division Titles and followed this up by triumphing in the 1907 FA Cup.
On 3 August 1929, The Wednesday FC officially became Sheffield Wednesday FC.
The name change coincided with one of the most successful periods of the club’s history.
They had already won the league in 1928-29 and would win it the following season under the new name of Sheffield Wednesday.
In fact, in 1929-30, they finished ten points clear at the top of the league. Quite an achievement considering it was two points for a win at the time.
They then went on to finish 3rd, three seasons in a row.
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The 1929-30 season is the last time to date Sheffield Wednesday won the top division of English football.
The closest they have come since was in 1960-61 when they finished as runners-up behind Tottenham.
They finished eight points behind Tottenham, but it would have been much closer were it not for a run of just one win in their final seven games.
The club holds a special place in my heart as I was a student in Sheffield for three years from 1997 to 2000.
In fact, the 1999-2000 season is (as of 2022) the last time Sheffield Wednesday were in the top flight.
So Sheffield Wednesday’s unusual name originates from the fact that workers traditionally had Wednesday afternoon off and would use that time to play sport.
Initially this was in the form of cricket, which saw the formation of The Wednesday Cricket Club (named after the men’s afternoon off) in 1820.
In 1867, as the popularity of football was spreading, members of the cricket team voted to start a football team to keep them together in the winter.
The Wednesday Football Club was founded, and this became Sheffield Wednesday Football Club in 1929.
The cricket club disappeared (although it was reformed in 2011), but the Football Club has been going strong ever since!