The Sheffield Schools' Athletics Association was born in 1889 when the various Church Schools and New Board (Elementary) Schools began to organise friendly games of football with each other.
Among these schools were Crookes C.E., Walkley C.E., Philadelphia Board School and Crookesmoor Board School. Stones were used as goalposts and a full size ball was used. There was no offside rule and a free kick was given when the ball went out of play. Each side had to provide an umpire.
The masters who played in these games were a Mr. Davis, son of a school inspector, Mr. T. H. Muxlow, son of the Headmaster of Crookesmoor and Mr. J. Harvey of Philadelphia who became secretary of the Sheffield Football Association.
Mr. T. W. Quine and Mr. F. Bye were the founders of the Association and it was Mr. Quine who called together a few of his fellow teachers in 1888 to discuss the question of helping the Teachers' Charity funds and improving the physical and mental development of the schoolboys.
As a result the Sheffield Schools' Athletics Association was born and the meeting decided to inaugurate it by arranging a match with the only Schools' Association in existence-South London.
The match, which did not take place until Saturday 3rd May 1890, was played at Olive Grove by kind permission of Sheffield Wednesday. The gate was 74 and Sheffield lost 1 - 0 to the "bigger boys" from London.
In 1889 Alderman W. S. Clegg presented the Clegg Shield for a football competition for the Elementary Schools of the City. Thurlstone were the first winners in 1890 and when they brought home the Shield the villagers and a brass band went to the station to meet the "conquering heroes". The captain was H. Depledge
In the Summer of 1889 the committee initiated a General Athletics Sports' Day held at the Bramall Lane Ground. There were over 400 entries. A shield, presented by Sir John Bingham, was awarded to the winner of the 1/4 mile championship.
Excellent gates were being taken at football and "the sports" and the Association decided to give the proceeds to the Firs Hill Orphanage For Girls. Fred Bye. the first Association Secretary, later regretted this and wished the money had been spent on a plot of land at Queens Road which would have been of immense value to the Association Both Sheffield Wednesday and United were praised by Fred Bye for their assistance in getting grounds.
A handicap cycling event was included in the Sports but this was quickly eliminated because the winner came in 200 yards in front. Seven-a-side football was played In the early 1890s with St. Mary's School being particularly successful.