Amongst the extensive list of things that make the county of Yorkshire so special, the most important is definitely football. Not only is Yorkshire home to Sheffield F.C, the FIFA certified oldest continually operating football club in the world, but several of England’s most historically successful football clubs too.
Some of the Yorkshire clubs have very passionate fan bases. But, who are the biggest club in Yorkshire? It’s a question that many football fans have been asking for many years. In this article, we will look into some facts and figures to try and rank the biggest football clubs in Yorkshire.
Here are the 10 biggest football clubs in Yorkshire.
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10. Rotherham United
Rotherham United was founded in 1925 as a merger between Rotherham County (1877) and Rotherham Town (1899). The club’s colours were initially yellow and black but changed to the red and white around 1930. You will now find them playing home games at The New York Stadium, a 12,000 all-seater stadium in Rotherham itself.
The club has spent the majority of its history in the Football League’s third tier, though its most successful period in recent years found the Millers competing in the Football League Championship during the early 2000s. It has also enjoyed more recent success, reaching the League Two Play-Off Finals at Wembley Stadium in May 2010, and gaining automatic promotion after finishing runners-up in Football League Two in 2012-13.
Notable former Rotherham players/manager include Emlyn Hughes, Tommy Docherty, Danny Williams and Shaun Goater.
9. Doncaster Rovers
Doncaster Rovers was founded in 1879 and are one of only four clubs to win the Division 3/League Two title three times. Their home strip is red and white hoops which has been the main design of the club’s home shirt since 2001. The associated Doncaster Rovers Belles L.F.C. are one of the most successful women’s clubs in English football.
The club now play at the Keepmoat Stadium since their 2006 move from Belle Vue, which they inhabited for 84 years. The 15,000 all-seater stadium was opened on New Years Day in 2007 in a game against Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town.
“The Rovers” celebrate some of their great formers players such as Fred Emery, Clarrie Jordan, Harry Gregg and more recently Billy Sharp.
8. Bradford City
Bradford City was founded in 1903, and won the FA Cup just eight years later! They enjoyed two seasons in the Premiership at the turn of the millennium and had a recent upturn in fortunes including a stunning League Cup run to the Wembley final in 2013, after knocking out giants such as Aston Villa and Arsenal en route!
The club’s former players are also looked upon affectionately: Dean Windass, Stuart McCall, Peter Beagrie and John Hendrie are to name but a few! Bradford is definitely one of the biggest football clubs in Yorkshire.
Known as ‘The Tykes’, Barnsley Football Club has played at the highest level nationally, but currently represents the region in the second tier of English football, the Championship. In fact, they have more experience at this level than any other club in the football league!
Barnsley, which has enjoyed a spell in The Premier League, has a fierce rivalry with its Yorkshire neighbours from just up the M1, Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United. As recently as 2006, Barnsley beat Liverpool and Chelsea on the way to the semi-finals of the FA Cup – a competition the club have won on one occasion!
Barnsley FC has produced some notable talents over the years. Their great striker, Tommy Taylor, went on to win two league titles with Manchester United in the 1950s.
6. Hull City
Hull City took the football world by surprise when they stormed into the Premiership with a trademark strike from legendary local hero Dean Windass in 2007. Hull had never (never!) made it into the English top-flight until the perma-tanned Phil Brown took them up in 2008 with a playoff final win over Bristol City.
Since then, they’ve had three separate spells in the Premier League – none of them lasting more than two seasons. Despite mixed fortunes recently they are currently playing in the English Championship now. Hull City is one of the biggest football clubs in Yorkshire now.
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5. Huddersfield Town
Huddersfield Town was the first English team to win three successive league titles – a feat only achieved since by Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. They achieved this feat under the guidance of their manager Herbert Chapman. The Terriers also scooped the FA Cup in the same era.
Nowadays “The Terriers”, playing in traditional blue and white strip, enjoy great rivalries with nearby Leeds and Bradford City – not to mention any other Yorkshire sides they happen to come up against!
As the Yorkshire Club, Huddersfield has great community roots and has developed a reputation for having a strong Academy. Great players from the past have included Denis Law and England World Cup winner Ray Wilson.
Middlesbrough is currently competing in the EFL Championship, the second tier of English football. They’ve got a good fanbase and a lot of nostalgia behind them. This football club was formed by members of Middlesbrough Cricket Club at a meeting at the Albert Park Hotel in 1876. They were also one of the founding members of the Premier League in 1992. The club’s main rivals are Sunderland and Newcastle United. There is also a rivalry with fellow Yorkshire club Leeds United.
The club’s highest league finish to date was third in the 1913–14 season and they have only spent two seasons outside of the Football League’s top two divisions. The club came close to folding in 1986 after experiencing severe financial difficulties before the club was saved by a consortium led by then board member and later chairman Steve Gibson. The club’s traditional kit is red with white detailing. The various crests throughout the club’s history, the most recent of which was adopted in May 2007, incorporate a lion rampant.
Arguably Middlesbrough’s most important success of recent times came in 2004 when a brilliant cup run was finished off by a remarkable win at Wembley to see Boro lift the League Cup for the first time.
3. Sheffield United
Sheffield United are playing some great football in their first season back in the Premier League. They were the first club in English football to achieve promotion from the newly formed Second Division to the First Division in 1892-93. The club was also a founder member of the Premier League in the 1992–93 season. They have won the league titles once and the FA Cup four times.
The club earned their nickname, ‘The Blades’, thanks to the city’s global reputation as a leader in the steel business, and their presence – and rivalry with Sheffield Wednesday – gives a modern-day cutting edge to football life in this city that, quite literally, gave birth to club football. The Blades are widely regarded as one of the biggest football clubs in Yorkshire.
United have made the strip of red and white stripes their own, and their famous rivalry against the blue and white of their fiercest opponents is second to none in football for passion, and not a little quality too. They have been playing at the Bramall lane since their foundation in 1889.
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2. Sheffield Wednesday
Sheffield Wednesday is a famous Yorkshire club with a great heritage, being the fifth oldest club in England. The club has spent much of their time in football’s top flight. Wednesday’s proud history boasts four League titles and three FA Cups. Since WWII their silverware has been limited to a League Cup victory in 1991, although in 1993 they reached the final of both domestic occasions.
Sheffield Wednesday is a sleeping giant. The definition of the phrase ‘sleeping giant’ is something or someone who holds great power but is still waiting for their big moment. Fans of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club or “Wednesdayites” as they are commonly known around Sheffield are some of the most passionate, loyal supporters in the country.
Blue and white Wednesday’s massive rivalry with red and white Sheffield United has made the ‘Steel City’ derby a sporting fixture for the diary for a century or more, when the atmosphere in Wednesday’s famous 40,000-seater home ground, Hillsborough, in the north-west of the city, can be guaranteed to be electric. Wednesday’s other great rivals include Barnsley, Leeds United, Rotherham and Doncaster.
1. Leeds United
Leeds United is one of the great names in English football and, while their recent hard times have been much talked about and well documented. They are much likely to play their next season in the Premier League.
“The Whites” have competed at the top level for most of their existence, and they even once shared a Champions League semi-final field with Barcelona. Don Revie’s legendary side of the 1960s and 70s won domestic and European trophies, and no doubt the Elland Road club is aiming one day to return to the big stage.
Leeds is the only club in Yorkshire’s biggest city, and attracts a huge following of loyal supporters, creating an intimidating atmosphere for opposition teams. They share rivalries with Manchester United, Chelsea and Millwall, as well as with local teams such as Huddersfield Town, Bradford City, and Sheffield Wednesday.