Penistone and its surrounding district has a rich footballing heritage. We can trace this football lineage back to 1648 through a diary entry written by a Parliamentary soldier, Captain Adam Eyre, who stated that he went to watch a game of foot-ball between Penistone and its neighbouring village of Thurlstone. This event was held at Bordhill, which today, is near to the Dog and Partridge Inn on the A628 Manchester Road. Further evidence of this footballing heritage can be found in the 1840s through national newspapers of the day such as ‘Bell’s Life’ in which challenge matches were issued between the men of Penistone and surrounding villages involving a prize of money for the winners. One such challenge clearly stated that Penistone would only play foot-ball and not hand-ball!Because of the sums of money involved the outcome of the match would have to be deemed fair, which suggests that both sides played to an agreed format. Football in Penistone had clearly moved forward and away from the ‘Folk’ football days to a more recognised established form.
We can trace this change in the game to the arrival of a new Curate into the Penistone parish in 1829.
The Reverend Samuel Sunderland had arrived from Clare Hall at the University of Cambridge and it is more than likely that he brought a Cambridge style of the game that he had experienced whilst there - predominately a dribbling game - with minimal handling, to Penistone. In 1836, Sunderland became Headmaster of Penistone Grammar School (PGS) and was responsible in looking after a number of boarders from the surrounding area as well as the local day boys. The school was located then in the middle of Penistone, near to the church, and had open fields bordering on the north side of the building. It was on this ground, close to the school, that Sunderland would have introduced his Cambridge style of the game to his pupils, two of whom, John Charles Shaw and John Marsh, would have a major impact on the development of football on a national level.
Born in Penistone in 1830. Educated at PGS under the Rev Sunderland becoming a very accomplished footballer. Moved to Sheffield in 1853 taking the now Penistone form of football with him. The oldest existing football club in the world, the Sheffield Football Club, was formed in 1857 by Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest with Shaw, according to Dransfield, the first Club Captain. Shaw was Founder of the second oldest existing Football Club in the world, the Hallam Football Club in 1860. Involved in the early development of the Sheffield Football Rules. Member of the Sheffield side which played in the first representative match against London at Battersea Park in 1866. Winner of the world’s first knock-out football tournament - the Youdan Trophy – in 1867. President of the Sheffield Football Association 1869-1883. As President, oversaw the amalgamation of rules between Sheffield and the London FA in 1877 which created a universal code of Association football in England.
Born in Thurlstone in 1842. Educated at PGS under the Rev Sunderland becoming another very accomplished footballer of the day. Founded the Wednesday Club in 1867 being the first club captain and secretary. Played in the Youdan Trophy. Winner of the world’s second oldest adult football tournament - the Cromwell Cup - in 1868. Member of the Sheffield Football Association Committee helping to develop Sheffield rules. Captain of the Association representative side 1871-1874 playing matches against London and Glasgow. Played against many future internationals players during his career. Returned to his native Thurlstone in 1874 to run the family pub, The Crystal Palace. Formed the Thurlstone Crystal Palace Football Club in 1874, the very first football club in the area, affiliated to Sheffield and playing Sheffield rules. This encouraged other teams to be established including the very first club in Penistone in 1875. Ultimately, bringing Association football into the Penistone area and the establishing of other local clubs.
The Reverend Sunderland was killed in an unfortunate accident in 1855 and was replaced by the Reverend Canon William Stephenson Turnbull who celebrated his Jubilee in office in 1905. To commemorate this occasion, two representative teams for the Church were created with Turnbull as President of both. Penistone Cricket Club became the Penistone Parish Church Cricket Club in 1905 and a football club – the Penistone Parish Church Football Club in 1906. A new era was born.
The newly formed club played their home games on ‘Bailey’s Field’ for three decades until they were forced to re-locate due to the building of the Park Avenue estate.
In 1906-07 Penistone Church were runners-up in the Sheffield Junior League. Winners of the Sheffield Amateur League in 1908-09. Winners of the Sheffield Junior Challenge Cup 1909-10 and winners of the Sheffield Amateur League 1910-11. Penistone Church won the Sheffield Junior Cup again in the 1936-37 season. 1936 was the year that the team was strengthened with the amalgamation of Penistone Church Football Club with the Penistone United Club thus creating the long association with Arthur 'Spinner' Lee who became the club secretary and treasurer.
In 1948 Penistone Church FC were the first ever opponents of Sheffield Wednesday's youth team in a Hatchard League fixture. When the Hatchard League merged with the Sheffield Association League, Penistone Church FC were founder members of the new Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League. The club move to the DSM Memorial ground when it was gifted to the town to ensure a sports facility for the community following the two world wars. The Ground is just under 230 metres above sea level - it is always colder here than you’d expect.
Penistone Church FC first reached the Premier Division in 1995 and were something of a yo-yo club during the 1990s, flitting between the Premier Division and Division One on numerous occasions.
Penistone Church FC finished as, Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League Premier Division, runners-up in 2003, but would later spend yet another year in Division One after relegation in 2007. Penistone Church FC finally became established as one of the top sides in that league during the early 2010s.
In 2014 Penistone Church FC were promoted to the Northern Counties East League Division One, having made their FA Vase debut in 2013.
In 2016 Penistone Church FC qualified for the inaugural Division One play-offs, but missed out on promotion to the Premier Division after losing the semi-final against AFC Emley.
In 2017 Penistone Church FC beat AFC Emley in a semi-final before going on to beat Grimsby Borough in the final to win promotion to the Premier Division. In the same 2017 season we also won the NCEL League Cup Final against Premier Division Side Bridlington winning 4-1 in front of a 300-strong crowd at Bramall Lane.
Having finished 7th in 2017-18 (our inaugural season in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division) we appeared a Bramall Lane in May 2018 losing 4-3 to Shaw Lane in the Sheffield and Hallamshire Senior Cup in front of a crowd of 671.
In 2018-19 Penistone Church FC finished second in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division, our highest ever league position. Worksop went up as worthy champions and hosted Penistone Church in March 2018 in front of a record crowd (1,628).
The club’s badge includes 3 Martlet birds - a nod to the Town’s emblem and the Penistone Grammar School’s (formed in 1392) that had 6 silver Martlets on a red field. The myth is that Martlet Birds never stop flying.