How the Beautiful Game was Forged by Steel City's Industry

When you think of Sheffield, what first springs to mind;

Steel? The Arctic Monkeys? Football? The Crucible Theatre? Henderson’s Relish?

Probably all of the above, but did you know that the city's presence within the Steel industry used to be linked directly to its football heritage?

Sheffield is widely recognised in the football world as the birthplace of the beautiful game, with the city home to the World's first football club, Sheffield FC, and the World's oldest football ground, Sandgate - base of the World’s second oldest football club, Hallam FC.

Sheffield Forgemasters makes ultra-heavy steel components for a wide range of sectors, including Defence & Marine, Civil Nuclear, Offshore, Steel Processing, Renewables, Power Generation, High Pressure Reactors, Steel plant, and Ingot & Bar.

In a previous guise, named Firth Brown, the company made its first foray into organised football in 1905 with the formation of a team, following earlier in-house competitions between employees.

The team was first named Atlas & Norfolk Works after two of the foundries the company owned at the time.

Atlas & Norfolk Works competed in the FA Cup and won five local league titles, three Sheffield Amateur League wins and two Hatchard League titles.

The Atlas & Norfolk Works Football Team in 1920:


In 1963 the club was renamed Firth Brown before becoming Atlas Sports and Social in 1976.

Firth Brown merged with British Steel's River Don Works in 1982 to form Sheffield Forgemasters, with their football teams joining forces a year later.

Following a final name change to Forgemasters Sports and Social FC, the team remained active and played in the Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League until 1991.

The club produced several players that went on to play the game for professional clubs, including the club’s most successful export, England international Ted Hufton, Sheffield United’s Ernest Jackson and Sheffield Wednesday’s Vince Kenny.

Arthur Edward "Ted" Hufton was a goalkeeper who began his playing football career at Atlas & Norfolk Works before he became a Sheffield United player in 1912 for a £20 transfer fee. 

Hufton was the understudy to Harold Gough during his seven-year spell at Bramall Lane, which limited his game time for the Blades.

Following the outbreak of the first world war, Arthur joined the Coldstream Guards. After being wounded in France and following his recovery, Hufton played for West Ham United as a guest player before he transferred to the Hammers permanently at the end of the conflict for a £300 fee.

Hufton played for the London club for the next 13 years and became an Irons legend, making 402 official appearances, ranking him nineteenth on the Hammers' all-time appearance list.

During his time with West Ham, Hufton played in the 1923 FA Cup final at Wembley and became the club's first goalkeeper to play international football. His international career began in November 1923, making his England debut in a 2-2 draw against Belgium.

Hufton's international success came in 1923, with the Three Lions beating France and Belgium 4-1 and 5-1, respectively. Ted's international career concluded following England’s first-ever meeting with Spain, his sixth international appearance.


Sheffield Forgemasters, now owned by the Ministry of Defence, reprised its love of football earlier this year when the company completed an in-house charity six-a-side football tournament.

The tournament took place at Handsworth FC’s Express Worktops Stadium, won by a team made up of maintenance staff from its Melt Shop. The event raised £714.28 for Support Dogs – and took the company’s fundraising total for the charity to more than £6,100 – in pursuit of its £20,000 target – the cost of training a specialist dog to assist people with epilepsy, physical disability and children with autism.