The story of the first ever official football match

The first ever official football match took place on 26 December 1860
The first ever official football match took place on 26 December 1860 / Getty Images/Getty Images

Boxing Day will forever be a red letter day in the calendar of football fans around the world.

Just a day after we've overindulged on just about every food imaginable, are we treated to yet another feast - but this time it's football on the menu.

So it's perhaps apt that 26 December is such a memorable day in sports fans' diaries when you hear it also marks a very significant anniversary.

The first ever official football match took part on Boxing Day 1860, and to mark the 160th anniversary of the event, we're taking a look back at the day that changed the sporting landscape all over the world.

Founded in October 1857, Sheffield FC have been recognised by FIFA as the world's oldest football club (with Notts County recognised as the oldest existing football league club, before you say anything).

Sheffield FC still exist today and play their football in the Northern Premier League Division One South East. When formed, the club originally played under Sheffield Rules and didn't officially adopt the new FA rules until 1878.

Just three years later, across the city of Sheffield, Hallam FC were formed. Nicknamed the Countrymen, unsurprisingly they lay claim to being the world's second oldest football club, and they too played under the Sheffield Rules.

So, with two football clubs in the same city playing by the same rules, it seems pretty obvious what was coming next, right?

The pair faced off on 26 December 1960 at Sandygate Road, a venue in Sheffield which Hallam still play at to this day. Aptly named the Rules Derby due to the fact it was played under Sheffield Rules, the game took a far different look to the football we know and love today.

With the offside rule not introduced until 1863 there were to be no offsides, pushing opposition players was completely legal and both sides fielded 16 players. In fairness it sounds like absolute carnage!

So come on then, who prevailed on the day?

It would be the earlier established of the two sides who triumphed, with Sheffield running out 2-0 winners over their neighbours.

The lucky man credited with scoring the first ever official goal in football was Nathaniel Creswick, a man who is helped found Sheffield FC and would later go on to receive a knighthood.

The scorer of the game's second goal is unknown, though we'll forgive them for not keeping an accurate record considering it was 160 years ago.

The event was celebrated on the 150th anniversary in 2010 with the pair facing off again at
Sandygate Road, with Sheffield yet again running out winners with a 2-1 scoreline.

The two teams do occasionally meet in league fixtures, however, this isn't a regular occurrence given they play in different leagues for the most part, though the last meeting took place in 2012 and yet again it was Sheffield who triumphed in a 3-2 win.

So there you have it, the origin of our beautiful game. Turns out it maybe wasn't quite so beautiful back then after all, just 32 men just pushing each other over until Sheffield eventually won.