Sheffield Wednesday’s club history dates all the way back to 1867 as one of the oldest football clubs in England. The Owls’ origins even also stretch beyond football having been founded by a cricket club.
The Wednesday Cricket Club sought to create an off-shoot football team in 1867 to keep their players fit over the winter months. It was not until 1929 that the Owls adopted Sheffield Wednesday as their name. While the cricket club also kept Wednesday in the name due to them playing on Wednesdays.
Sheffield Wednesday badge
Sheffield Wednesday have embraced six designs for their club badge throughout the Owl’s history so far. The Hillsborough natives have also adapted the design of their crest on a smattering of occasions over the years. In all, nine badges have appeared at points in Sheffield Wednesday’s club history yet.
The first instance of a badge featuring in Sheffield Wednesday’s club history came in 1935 when they added the Sheffield coat of arms to their kits for the FA Cup final. It was standard for teams to adopt their city’s coat of arms for major matches at the time with the club’s first badge not used until 1956.
Sheffield Wednesday embraced the first official badge in their club history for the 1956/57 term. Yet they rarely had the crest on their kits outside of major matches, like the 1966 FA Cup final. The crest featured an owl sat above the Latin inscription Consilio et Animis, meaning By Wisdom and Courage.
It also retained the sheaf of arrows from Sheffield’s coat of arms. But Sheffield Wednesday sought a modernised crest in 1973 and commissioned an art student at a local college to create a new badge. They would come up with Ozzie the Owl, yet the owl’s name only remained in place for 12 months.
Sheffield Wednesday adapted their simplistic owl badge a handful of times over the following years. It changed from a basic blue-and-white outline to a black-and-yellow and to a black-and-white owl. The club eventually dropped the design entirely in 1995 and introduced a sophisticated owl on a shield.
The Owls also brought back their full club name on their badge from 1995 with the further addition of Hillsborough. Yet after a slight modification in 1997 when they switched the colours to blue-and-white, Sheffield Wednesday dropped the design in 1999 with a return for Ozzie the Owl on a shield, as well.
Ozzie remained in place on Sheffield Wednesday’s crest for the following 17 years with the addition of Est 1867. But the Owls reverted all the way back to their first official club badge in 2016. Sheffield Wednesday resurrected the first badge in their club history with a modern adaptation of the shield.
Blue and white shirts have always remained synonymous with Sheffield Wednesday all through the club’s history. But rather than the striped designs the Owls wear today, the club first took to a pitch with hooped jerseys as The Wednesday Football Club. They did not adopt striped jerseys until 1886.
Sheffield Wednesday’s league history has so far featured the top three tiers of English club football over the years. But they did not enter any league until the club’s 22nd year in existence having first competed exclusively in cup competitions. The Owls first entered the Football Alliance in 1889/90.
League football brought instant success to Sheffield Wednesday as they lifted the Football Alliance title in their inaugural campaign. But the Owls failed to retain the title before entering the Football League for the 1892/93 Division One campaign. They remained in the top-flight through until 1899.
Yet Sheffield Wednesday followed their relegation with an immediate return to Division One as the 1899/1900 Division Two champions. They would even go on to win the Division One title in back-to-back seasons in 1902/03 and 1903/04. The Owls also remained in the top-flight through until 1919.
But it would take the club until lifting the 1925/26 Division Two title to secure their top-flight return. Sheffield Wednesday also had a steady start to their return with 16th and 14th-place finishes. Yet the Division One title would return to Sheffield Wednesday in 1928/29 and once again during 1929/30.
Sheffield Wednesday endured a period as a yo-yo club during the 1950s before regaining their place as a top-flight ever-present in the 1960s. Yet their relegation in 1969/70 sparked a downward spiral and the Owls dropped into the third-tier in 1975/76. They did not return to the top-flight until 1984.
Sheffield Wednesday were a founding member of the Premier League
Bar a slight hiccup with relegation in 1989/90 followed by an immediate return the following season, the Owls remained in the top-flight until 2000. Sheffield Wednesday were also a founding member of the Premier League in 1992. But Hillsborough has not hosted a top-flight game since 1999/2000 now.
A further smattering of relegations and promotions have littered Sheffield Wednesday’s club history since the turn of the millennium. But the Owls have only spent, at most, two consecutive campaigns outside of the Championship since dropping out of the Premier League, including from 2021 to 2023.
Sheffield Wednesday endured relegation from the Championship in 2020/21 as the basement boys with 41 points after 46 games. Darren Moore nearly sealed the Owls an immediate return after the club made the League One play-off semi-finals. But Sunderland would go on to make it to Wembley.
Not to be deterred, Moore remained at the helm and led Sheffield Wednesday back into the play-offs in 2022/23. Yet the Owls seemed set for disappointment after losing 4-0 to Peterborough in the first leg of the semi-finals. But Hillsborough carried the Owls to a historic comeback to take it to penalties.
Liam Palmer wrote his name into Sheffield Wednesday history when the right-back scored in the 98th minute for a 4-0 win in regulation time. Callum Paterson also delivered in the 112th minute to reply to Lee Gregory’s own goal in extra time before the Owls won 5-3 on penalties after Dan Butler’s miss.
The drama was not over, either, as Sheffield Wednesday and rivals Barnsley played out a goalless 90 minutes at Wembley in the final. It appeared certain that the two teams would battle for promotion on penalties. But Josh Windass broke Barnsley’s hearts in the 123rd minute with his historic late winner.
Sheffield Wednesday trophies
An array of titles litter Sheffield Wednesday’s trophy history but a majority of the Owls’ successes arrived in the club’s earlier years. The Hillsborough outfit have not lifted a top-flight title since they won their fourth crown to date in 1929/30. They have also not lifted the second-tier trophy since 1958/59.
Sheffield Wednesday’s most frequent league titles have come in the second-tier, however, with five trophies to their name. They have also lifted the third-tier play-off trophy twice yet with triumphs from the 2004/05 and 2022/23 campaigns. The Owls also have one Football Alliance trophy in their cabinet.
Cup honours, too, flowed more regularly in the earlier years of Sheffield Wednesday’s club history. The Owls lifted the first of their three FA Cup titles in 1895/96 at their 15th attempt. But they have now not lifted the trophy for the oldest national football competition in the world since the 1934/35 campaign.
The only Community Shield – then known as the Charity Shield – title in Sheffield Wednesday’s trophy history also arrived in 1935. While the Owls won their only English Football League Cup (EFL Cup) title to date in the 1990/91 season. The trophy interrupts an otherwise barren period in their history books.
Players and managers
The highs and lows that litter their history have also created a raft of Sheffield Wednesday legends over the years. Few can stake a claim to being an icon of the Owls more so than Andrew Wilson. He set the club’s all-time records for appearances (560) and goals scored (217) between 1900 and 1920.
Jack Brown and Alan Finney also recorded more than 500 appearances for the Owls. While a further eight players later followed Wilson by scoring 100 or more goals with the club, including their heroic Sheffield-born forwards John Fantham and Redfern Froggatt plus Barnsley-born attacker, David Hirst.
Coaches also stand on the shoulders of a number of Sheffield Wednesday legends as the manager at Hillsborough. Arthur Dickinson oversaw more than 900 games during his stint as the club’s secretary. He also remains their longest-serving manager and oversaw their first Division One and FA Cup titles.