Sheffield was the original home of both ‘Yorkshire’ and Yorkshire CCC and thus has an unchallenged role in the county’s cricketing history. Paul Dyson looks at the game’s early venues in the county’s southernmost city.
As defined by the Association of Statisticians and Historians, the first ‘important’ match to take place in Yorkshire was staged in 1772 and was between Sheffield and Nottingham. Where the game was played has never been conclusively proved but there is strong evidence that it was on Carver Street on a site on which was built Carver Street Methodist Chapel in 1804. This building is no longer used for its original purpose, but it certainly acts as a pointer to where the game probably took place.
In contrast, Sheffield played against Chesterfield in 1783 on Crook’s Moor; this was an area of open land away from what was then a small town. The area later assumed the title Crookesmoor and was eventually subsumed into being a suburb of the rapidly expanding city.
The first purpose-built cricket ground in the whole of Yorkshire was laid out in Darnall. In 1822 a Sheffield 15 played against 11 of Nottingham over three days and the match was watched by large crowds. Unfortunately, a stand which was built for 2,000 spectators collapsed on the first afternoon and 23 were admitted into hospital although six were not detained.
Despite, or because of, the success of this venture the proprietor, George Steer, of Darnall Hall, decided to acquire more land nearby and develop a superior ground in the same area, i.e. about 2 miles NE of Sheffield. This new enterprise was ready as soon as 1824 and consisted of 18,000 square yards ‘of good forest turf’ (Sheffield Mercury). Terraced seating for about 8,000 spectators was positioned on a bank and behind it a large brick building dominated. It contained several rooms for players and spectators and also had a kitchen and private apartments. There was an impressive balcony supported by seven pillars which spectators could also use from the large room set aside for them.