John Charles Shaw

John Charles Shaw

Meet man who lifted the very first football tournament cup in 1867. John Charles Shaw was born in Penistone in 1830, the first born of Benjamin Shaw and Elizabeth Shaw. John was baptised by the Reverend Samuel Sunderland at St John’s the Baptist church in Penistone. He was educated by Sunderland (Headmaster of Penistone Grammar School which John attended). Whilst at Penistone and under Sunderland’s tutelage, John became very adept at the game of football that Sunderland had introduced into Penistone when he arrived as a young Curate in 1829.

John became a clerk in a local solicitor’s firm based in Penistone called Dransfield’s. Prior to this he had been articled to his uncle, also called John, who was a surgeon based at Attercliffe, but he did not like this profession. He then spent the next four years working with a Sheffield solicitor John Dixon before becoming employed by Dransfield.

Dransfield had a young son at the time called John Ness and many years later, in a letter written in 1928, John Ness recalled watching John Charles Shaw regularly playing football in the fields opposite his father’s office. John Charles Shaw enjoyed his football and clearly took every opportunity to play. He married in 1853, the daughter of a Sheffield dental surgeon, called Mary Ann Garnett. The couple moved into premises at 19 Norfolk Row, close to her father’s business, with John Charles Shaw now a Law Stationer.

John was not baptised John Charles, he assumed this middle name whilst he was in Sheffield, more-than-likely to raise his business profile. As a young man of 23, John Charles would still have wanted to play football and no doubt involved himself again with informal kick-abouts when time allowed. East Bank Park was not far from his business and John Charles would take the Penistone form of football, developed under Sunderland, for impromptu kick-abouts attracting other young professional men to join in. This form of football lasted for several years with sides being chosen in an ad-hoc manner, which could have led rise to the notion of a club being formed in 1855. However, a more formal, structured approach from this organised ad-hoc situation, was taken in October of 1857, when Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest formed the Sheffield Football Club. This possibly helps explain why Creswick stated in his diary that ‘most of young Sheffield come to kick’ as they were already there kicking.

John Charles Shaw’s name as a member first appears in the 1859 listings, although Dransfield claims that he was the very first Club captain before going on to found the Hallam Club in 1860. Certainly, Creswick was captain in the 1860-61 season, but not before.

  • Shaw retained his membership of the Sheffield Club as well as performing the duties of captain and secretary of the Hallam club. Shaw’s involvement with the development of the game in Sheffield and beyond is impressive.
  • The Sheffield and Hallam clubs were involved in the first inter-club match in December 1860 with Creswick and Shaw the opposing captains.
  • John Charles Shaw was a member of the Sheffield team that played against a London representative side at Battersea Park in 1866.
  • The Hallam club, with John Charles Shaw as captain, were victorious in winning the world’s first adult knock-out football competition, the Youdan Trophy in 1867.
  • John Charles Shaw was a member of the Youdan organising committee which led to the establishing of the Sheffield Football Association in 1867. In 1868 he was Vice-President and in 1869 he became President of the Association. A position he retained for 14 years.
  • Shaw was voted to be 12th man in the first inter-association game held at Bramall Lane in 1871 between London and Sheffield. Charles William Alcock had selected a team to represent London but were a man short. John Charles Shaw played in goal for the visiting side.
  • In 1876, the Sheffield Association Challenge Cup was initiated. John Charles Shaw captained the Thursday Wanderers aged 46, in the first round of the cup, losing 5-4 to the Heeley club.
  • In 1877, with John Charles Shaw as President, the Sheffield Association, reached an agreement with the London Association regarding the rules of the game. This established a universal code for the playing of association football throughout England.
  • John Charles Shaw eventually moved to Birmingham due to work commitments, where he remained until his death in 1918.


The two decades between 1857 to 1877 are the most crucial in the making of the modern game of association football, prior to the onset of professionalism and leagues. John Charles Shaw straddled these two decades being at the forefront of this making and was a continuous presence helping to influence and shape the evolvement of the game. The world of football and Sheffield in particular, owe him a huge debt of gratitude.

John Charles Shaw’s grave at Brandwood End Cemetery, Kings Heath, Birmingham. It is the empty bit between the other two graves.

Do you have more information about this that we could add? Are any of the facts wrong? Please get in touch if so.

Source: Kevin Neill
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