14 October 1878: the first football match played under floodlights

The world's first football match under floodlights took place on this day in 1878 at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, as the “Blues” played the “Reds” in an exhibition match.

Floodlights are an essential part of modern football. And not just for the evening matches, which hold their own special appeal, but for the boring old Saturday afternoon matches too. After all, in the depths of December, the sun sets before the start of the second half, even in London. In Newcastle, you won't even make it to the end of the first half before darkness descends.

Floodlit football has been around for a long time – even longer than the Football League, which didn't get going until 1888. Because the first floodlit football match in the world took place on this day in 1878 at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, now home to Sheffield United, when the "Blues" played the "Reds" in an exhibition match under electric light.

As the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent reported, although "we have had plenty of athletic exhibitions by the light of gas", electricity was still in its infancy at the time. Indeed, Edison hadn't yet patented his electric light bulb. It was a huge novelty.

bramall-lane-i

And so that's why 12,000 people paid sixpence each to watch the game, and as many more again snuck in under the cover of darkness without paying. "The roads to Bramall Lane were completely besieged", said The Independent. "There seemed no end to the ever-coming stream."

Four lights were installed on wooden "stages" 30 feet high. Behind each goal was a "portable engine" powering the lights, which put out a total of 8,000 candlepower. It was a big success. "Everybody seemed highly pleased with the result of the experiment, the light being most brilliant and effective", said The Independent.

Of the football on offer, however, The Times reported the next day that "the brilliancy of the light dazzled the players and sometimes caused strange blunders" a phenomenon which was – until recently at least – all too common at Bramall Lane.

Recommended

26 October 1863: the Football Association is founded
This day in history

26 October 1863: the Football Association is founded

On this day in 1863, 12 London football clubs got together at the Freemasons’ Tavern in London to form the Football Association to govern the increasi…
26 Oct 2020
22 October 1962: Start of the Cuban missile crisis
This day in history

22 October 1962: Start of the Cuban missile crisis

On this day in 1962, the Kennedy administration issued its famous ultimatum – either the USSR removes its nuclear weapons from Cuba, or else.
22 Oct 2020
22 October 1907: JP Morgan rescues Wall Street
This day in history

22 October 1907: JP Morgan rescues Wall Street

In response to a bank run that threatened the US banking system, JP Morgan and his cabal of bankers organised a relief effort on this day in 1907.
22 Oct 2020
21 October 1520: Magellan finds the path to the Pacific
This day in history

21 October 1520: Magellan finds the path to the Pacific

On this day in 1520, a fleet of five ships, led by Ferdinand Magellan in search of a passage to the Pacific, first entered the waterway that now bears…
21 Oct 2020

Most Popular

The Bank of England should create a "Bitpound" digital currency and take the world by storm
Bitcoin

The Bank of England should create a "Bitpound" digital currency and take the world by storm

The Bank of England could win the race to create a respectable digital currency if it moves quickly, says Matthew Lynn.
18 Oct 2020
Don’t miss this bus: take a bet on National Express
Trading

Don’t miss this bus: take a bet on National Express

Bus operator National Express is cheap, robust and ideally placed to ride the recovery. Matthew Partridge explains how traders can play it.
19 Oct 2020
Three stocks that can cope with Covid-19
Share tips

Three stocks that can cope with Covid-19

Professional investor Zehrid Osmani of the Martin Currie Global Portfolio Trust, picks three stocks that he thinks should be able to weather the coron…
12 Oct 2020