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Hillsborough Stadium is the home of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club in Sheffieldmarker, Englandmarker. Football has been played at the ground since it was opened on 2 September 1899, when Wednesday moved from their original ground at Olive Grovemarker. Today it is a 39,812 capacity all-seater stadium, making it the largest stadium in the city. The vast majority of the seats are covered. It is located in the Sheffield suburb of Owlertonmarker, but takes its name from the parliamentary constituency in which it lies.

On 15 April 1989, the ground was the scene of one of the worst sporting tragedies of all time when 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death in an FA Cup semi-final in the infamous Hillsborough disaster. This prompted a series of improvements to safety at the ground and at other stadiums around the country.

Although the ground has received little investment since Euro 1996, it is still regarded as "a beautiful ground oozing character." It has two large separate two tiered stands and two large single tiered stands, all of which are covered. All four stands are of a similar size in terms of capacity, but with the South stand being the largest and the West stand (used for away fans) the smallest. Only one corner of the ground is filled, between the West and North Stands. This area, known as the North West terrace, is uncovered and is only used for visiting supporters when the West stand upper and lower tiers are full. On the other corner of the West stand is an electronic scoreboard.

Plans by the club for a £22m renovation of the stadium and expansion to 44,825 have been approved by Sheffield City Council Planning Department with an aim to hosting FIFA World Cup 2018 matches. The ground has previously played host to World Cup and European Championship football in 1966 and 1996 respectively.


During the 1898–99 season Sheffield Wednesday were told that the land rented at Olive Grove would be needed for railway expansions. They were allowed to remain there for the rest of that season but had to find a new ground for the next season. Several locations were considered but fell through for various reasons. An alternative was offered by the Midland Railway Company but it did not meet the requirements of the club.

Finally James Willis Dixon of Hillsborough Housemarker, owner of the Silversmiths James Dixon & Sons, offered a 10 acre site at Owlerton, a sparsely populated area of land to the northwest of the city. The land was part of the Hillsborough House estate which was being sold off by the Dixon's. It was successfully bought for £5,000 GBP plus costs. Soil was dumped at both ends of the ground to level out the ground which was initially meadowland covered with dandelions. The 2,000 capacity stand at Olive Grove was then transported to the new site and was joined by a newly constructed 3,000 capacity stand for the start of the next season. The first match to be played was on 2 September 1899 against Chesterfield. The match was kicked off by the Lord Mayor of Sheffield William Clegg, himself a former Wednesday player. It was a Chesterfield player, Herbert Munday, who scored the first goal at the new stadium but Wednesday came back to win the game 5–1. Despite the location of the ground several miles outside the city boundaries and a poor public transport service the new ground averaged 3,000 supporters for the first three months.

Early years

The ground was known as the Owlerton Stadium until 1914, when it was renamed Hillsborough to coincide with a series of ground improvements. The ground took its new name from the newly created parliamentary constituency. The ground proved to be lucky for Wednesday with the first 8 years proving to be their most successful so far. They included their first league wins in the 1902–03 and1903–04. This was followed by a second FA Cup in 1907.

The first FA Cup semi-final to be held at the stadium was a replay between West Bromwich Albion and Blackburn Roversmarker on 3 April 1912. A crowd of 20,050 saw an extra time goal give West Brom the win. This was followed by its first international on 10 April 1920. A match between England and Scotland was watched by 25,536. The game ended with England winning 5–4. The following two seasons saw Hillsborough host two more FA Cup semi-finals, both between Preston North End and Tottenham Hotspur. The crowds for these matches were 43,320 and 49,282 respectively. The highest ever attendance was 72,841 on February 17, 1934 for an FA Cup 5th round game against Manchester City.

After the end of the 1912–13 season a record profit was announced by the club. The money was invested in a replacement for the Olive Grove stand on the south side of the stadium. The banking on the Spion Kop was also increased in size. The new south stand was completed in time for the first round of the FA Cup on 1 October 1913 against Notts County. It cost £18,000 and included 5,600 seats plus terracing at the front. New offices, dressing rooms, refreshment rooms and a billiard room were also part of the new stand. The second round tie went to a replay on 4 February 1914, which was held in front of a record home crowd of 43,000. However the match was remembered for the collapse of the new retaining wall at the Penistone Road end. It caused 70 injuries and caused the match to be suspended while the casualties were taken to the infirmary.

Post war

During the post war era Hillsborough rose to be one of the top stadiums in the country. It hosted a total of 27 FA Cup semi-finals. In 1966, the stadium was selected as one of the venues for the Football World Cup, hosting first round matches involving West Germany, Argentina, Switzerland, and Spain, as well as a quarterfinal in which West Germany beat Uruguay 4–0.

Demolition of the North Stand began in 1960 and work began on a new £150,000 stand. The new stand, designed by local firm Husband & Co, was in length. It was only the second stand in the country, after one at Scunthorpe United's Old Showgroundmarker, to be build with a cantilever roof and the first to run the full length of the pitch. It was opened on 23 August 1961 by Stanley Rous, secretary of the Football Association. The 10,008 capacity all-seater stand almost doubled the seating capacity of Hillsborough from 9,000 to 16,000.

The ground held its first national cup final in 1977 when it played host to Everton and Aston Villa for a Football League Cup final replay. A crowd of 52,135 watched a 1–1 draw leading to another replay. At the end of the 1980s the ground held three successive FA Cup semis ending with the tragic events that changed the nature of football grounds throughout the country.

The memorial across the river from the South Stand and main entrance

Hillsborough disaster

On 15 April 1989, the ground was the scene of one of the worst sporting tragedies of all time when 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death in an FA Cup semi-final in the infamous Hillsborough disaster.

This prompted a series of improvements to safety at the ground; the terraced stands were converted to all seated accommodation over the following four years, and the fences around the pitch were replaced with low safety-barricades to allow incursion onto the playing surface in case of emergency.

Outside the ground, near the main entrance on Parkside Road, is a memorial to the 96 fans that lost their lives at Hillsborough in 1989, during the FA Cup Semi Final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

All-seater era

Plan of Hillsborough Stadium and the surrounding area

In 1996, Hillsborough was host to several fixtures at the Euro 96 competition and in particular was host to the Danish squad. The Danish fans endeared themselves to the local population with their fanatical support and exemplary behaviour, and were particularly popular amongst local landlords - a number of Sheffield public houses had to order emergency supplies of beer and cigarettes

In 1997 Hillsborough hosted its first major domestic match since the disaster. The League Cup Final replay between Leicester City and Middlesbrough was played at the ground. It was won by Leicester by one goal to nil. Later the same year Middlesbrough returned to Hillsborough for an FA Cup semi-final replay in which they beat Chesterfield by three goals to nil.

The record attendance since the ground was made all-seated was on 2 February 2000 in a Premier League game against Manchester United and was watched by 39,640 fans. In recent years average attendances at Hillsborough have remained high despite Wednesday's relatively poor league position:

The 25 June 2007 Floods

On 25 June 2007, the River Don burst its bank during a period of severe weather in the area, and the whole ground was flooded with several feet of water. The changing rooms, restaurants and kitchens and boardroom were all flooded, as well as the ticket office and superstore; many local houses were also affected. Trout were found in the stands at the stadium .


North Stand

The North Stand (Cantilever) at Hillsborough

Constructed: 1899–1903

Current stand constructed:1960–1963

Capacity: 9,255 (seated)

Sponsored by: My Sheffield Jobs

The original North Stand was built between 1899 and 1903. In the early sixties this was replaced by the current North Stand which runs along the long north edge of the pitch, and was the second football stand in Britain to have a cantilever roof (thus amongst some fans, it is known as "the cantilever"). It was however the first in the country to run the entire length of the pitch; the first cantilever stand in English football at Scunthorpe United's Old Show Ground only covered the centre of the pitch. When opened, the stand held 10,000 but the capacity has been reduced more recently to make room for disabled spectators and also to widen the exit aisles for safety reasons. Hillsborough is the only football ground to be mentioned in Nikolaus Pevsner's Buildings of England due to this stand.

At the time of opening the stand was the best new stand to be built since Arsenal's East Stand at Highburymarker in the thirties, and it still is a fabulous stand.

"There is not a misplaced line in this remarkable stand. From any angle (it) is quite breathtaking. It is like an architect’s model of the dream stand of the future, a space age stand." Simon Inglis

West Stand

Hillsborough West Stand (Leppings Lane end)

Constructed: c. 1900

Current Stand constructed: 1961–1965

Capacity: 7,995 (seated)

Currently Sponsored by Carling Lager* (Advertising boards donated to the Children's Hospital Charity) *As of 2009/10 season.

Situated at the Leppings Lane end of the ground, the West Stand seats the away supporters on Wednesday home games.

The original stand built at the turn of the century was a covered terrace housing up to 3,000 fans. In the 1920s this was joined by the North West terrace before the Leppings Lane stand was replaced by a 12,000 capacity partially covered terrace.Before the 1966 World Cup the West Stand was demolished again and replaced by a two-tiered structure with 4,471 seats in the upper tier and retaining a terrace in front of the stand. After the infamous Hillsborough disaster in 1989 the lower tier terrace was closed for two years and replaced by 2,294 seats. The North West terrace was the last section of the stand to be made all seated, adding another 1,382 seats to the structure.

North West Terrace

The North-West Terrace at Hillsborough

Constructed: 1919–1920

Current stand constructed: January 1965–May 1966

Sponsored by: Handley Brown Solicitors

Capacity: 1,382

The North West Terrace (still referred to as a terrace despite now being all seated) is the only major section of the stadium to remain uncovered (the other area is the small corner section joined to the Kop). The original North West Terrace was built between 1919 and 1920 to adjoin both the North Stand and West Stand, but was demolished in early 1965 and replaced in mid 1966, in time for the 1966 World Cup.

It is not currently in use, as the stand failed to gain a safety certificate for the 2007–08 season, although in recent years it had only been used as overspill for away fans when both the upper and lower tiers of the West Stand have been filled. Whilst not being used for seating, the terrace has recently been used as extra advertising space, with advertising boards on the back wall, and more recently a large 'My Sheffield Jobs' seat covering appearing alongside their sponsorship of the North Stand. It is sponsored by Handley Brown.

This stand will be re-opened for away fans in the 2009–10 season under new chairman Lee Strafford.

South Stand and Grandstand

Constructed: 1899–1903

Current Stand Constructed: 1913–1915

Extended: 1995

South Stand capacity: 8,354

Grandstand capacity:3,000

Total stand capacity: 11,354 (seated)

Sponsored by: TBC

The first South Stand was originally constructed at Olive Grovemarker, but moved with the club in the summer of 1899 to the new site at Owlertonmarker where it was reconstructed brick-by-brick.

The modern stand, the oldest remaining stand at the ground, was constructed in 1913 for a fee exceeding £17,000 to a design by Archibald Leitch. The stand had 5,600 seats as well as room for 11,000 standing fans. The modern stand has seen a series of improvements, the first being a conversion to an all-seated stand in 1965 ahead of the 1966 FIFA World Cup and latest being a major £7m re-development for the Euro 1996 international competition when an upper tier (Grandstand) of 3,000 extra seats, a new roof, 30 executive boxes, two conference suites, a bar, a restaurant and a range of office space were added.

The South Stand is the most recognisable of the four stands and still bears the original clock face and finial from the 1913 design, although the remainder of the stand is unrecognisable from Leitch's original. It houses the main reception, media and hospitality boxes, as well as the ground's family enclosure, five modern refreshment kiosks and four bars. It also features concourse television sets relaying live coverage of the match as well as highlights at half-time.

Spion Kop

Side view of the Kop at Hillsborough from outside the stadium

Constructed: 1914

Capacity: 11,210 (seated)

Sponsored by ASD Lighting

Named after a hill that was the scene of a famous battle in the Second Boer War, the Spion Kop is built into a natural hill at the east end of the ground and houses the most vocal of Wednesday supporters. It is usually simply referred to by fans as The Kop.

The stand remained open to the elements until a roof was added in 1986 after fans raised money to contribute to the cost. The Kop's huge capacity of 22,000 made it the largest covered standing area in Europe at the time.

The Kop was the last part of the Wednesday ground to be converted to all-seater accommodation, the change finally coming in 1993 to comply with new FA Premier League regulations following the Taylor Report. The capacity was hence halved, but the Kop remains one of the largest single tier stands in Britain and is very intimidating for opposition players.

A large concourse area was added in 2004, partially funded by the Owls Trust.


The stadium is located in the north west of the city roughly three miles from the city centre. The area is mainly residential with a number of shops and a shopping centre located at nearby Hillsborough Corner. Views of the area can be enjoyed from hills located to the west.

The stadium is sandwiched between Hillsborough Parkmarker to the south and terrace housing to the north. The River Don also runs alongside the stadium to the south. The Spion Kop backs straight onto Penistone Road, a major dual carriageway leading to the city centre, while there is some space between the West Stand and Leppings Lane.

Stadium Upgrade Plans

Sheffield Wednesday announced in the summer of 2009 plans for a £22m upgrade of the stadium and an increase in capacity to 44,825 from the current 39,812 with no viewing restrictions. These plans will be completed by 2013 and will bring the stadium up to FIFAmarker standards for hosting World Cup matches. The details of the plans are as follows:

  • Removing the current pillars that support the roof of the Kop and installing an 'iconic' roof structure
  • Adding a corner between North Stand and the Kop with a medium-sized round hole underneath the seats to let wind get onto the pitch
  • Adding a roof to the North-West Corner
  • Removing the pillars and roof from the West Stand and replacing the roof
  • Removing the present tier on the West Stand so that the inclination of the present day upper tier contiunues to pitch level
  • Adding a new tier above the present upper tier on the West Stand with a 'new specific learning zone' between the new upper tier and present upper tier
  • Renovation of the exterior appearance of the West Stand
  • Demolition of the mega-store and gymnasium behind the North Stand
  • The extension of the North Stand to create the 'biggest classroom in Europe' as well as 'enterprise zones' and 17 boxes
  • Improved layout of the stadium South Stand floor plan and stadium surroundings to comply with FIFA requirements
  • Improved parking and stadium access
  • Adding rainwater harvesting and solar cell technology
  • Demolition of the existing stadium control between the South Stand and West Stand and relocation to the corner between the Kop and South Stand
  • Adding TV screens to the corners of the roof between the Kop-North Stand and South Stand-West Stand
  • New bridge across the River Don for entry to West Stand, with turnstiles on the other side of the river

Work Updates

  • Work hasn't started yet as of 30 October 2009
  • Planning permission was granted for the entire scheme in 20 October 2009


The highest attendance recorded at Hillsborough was in the FA Cup fifth round on 17 February 1934. A total of 72,841 turned up to see a 2–2 draw with Manchester City. The highest attendance recorded since work to convert the stadium to an all-seater venue was completed in 1993 was for a Premier League match against Manchester United on 2 February 2000. The game was watched by 39,640 fans.

The highest seasonal average attendance at Hillsborough was 42,520 in the 1952–53 season in Division 1. The highest average attendance in the second tier of English football was 41,682 in the 1951–52 season, which saw the club gain promotion from Division 2 and Derek Dooley score a record 46 league goals. The highest average attandance in the third tier of English football was achieved in the 2004–05 season when an average of 23,107 fans watched each League One game at Hillsborough.

The lowest average attendance at Hillsborough came in the first season after its opening (1899–00) when each game was attended by an average crowd of just 6,800 fans, mainly due to the fact that the new stadium, then called Owlerton Stadium, was a fraction of the size it is today.

The largest gate receipts taken from a match at Hillsborough was for the Euro 96 game between Turkey and Denmark on 19 June 1996. A crowd of 28,671 watched the match, paying a total of £1,012,150.

Hillsborough still holds the record for the highest attendance for a third tier football match. 49,309 spectators turned up on 26 December 1979, one of the most memorable days in SWFC history, when the Owls beat Sheffield United 4–0 in a top of the table clash, now known as the Boxing Day Massacre.

The largest receipts for a club game at Hillsborough were for the FA Cup semi-final replay between Chesterfield and Middlesbrough on 22 April 1997 and totalled £680,965. The game was watched by 30,339 fans.
The stadium seen from Shirecliffe, 1.5 km to the east.
The highest receipts for a game at Hillsborough involving Sheffield Wednesday was for the Premier League match against Manchester United on 7 March 1998, which was watched by 39,427 fans and earned the club £386,426.

International Football

Hillsborough was used as a venue for the 1966 FIFA World Cup and 1996 UEFA European championships. It was also used for some England matches prior to the construction of Wembley Stadiummarker

The stadium is a proposed stadium for the England 2018 world cup bid.

Date Result Competition
1920-10-04 5–4 British Home Championship
1962-10-03 1–1 UEFA Euro 1964 qualifier
1966-07-12 5–0 1966 FIFA World Cup group stage
1966-07-15 2–1 1966 FIFA World Cup group stage
1966-07-19 2–0 1966 FIFA World Cup group stage
1966-07-23 4–0 1966 FIFA World Cup quarter-final
1973-09-26 0–0 1974 FIFA World Cup qualifier
1996-06-09 1–1 UEFA Euro 1996 group stage
1996-06-16 3–0 UEFA Euro 1996 group stage
1996-06-19 0–3 UEFA Euro 1996 group stage


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