It’s fair to say Leeds United put Elland Road on the international map. While some might argue that map has since been re-drawn (i.e.: without it), the achievement of the club in its heyday is not one to be sniffed at...
The first soccer was played there by Leeds AFC from 1904 until the club was expelled from the Football Association in 1919. This came about following a dispute between the club and one of its players, Charlie Copeland, who reported them to the FA over his contract. The subsequent investigation, however, uncovered illegal payments which had been made to others and although this practise was widespread at the time, the FA decided to crack down on Leeds.
The cloud had a silver lining, however. Such was the strength of feeling in Leeds among supporters that a new club rose from the ashes, becoming the first professional club in the city.
Meanwhile, another sporting club - Headingley - can trace its roots back to 1890. It opened on Whit-Tuesday of that year with a Leeds v Scarborough cricket match. The first rugby match was Leeds v Manningham on September 20, 1890. The first Yorkshire County crciket match at Headingley was against Kent in 1891 and the first Test was against Australia in 1899.
In 1967, matches there were played behind barbed wire after demonstrations against matches with South Africa.
However, another nearby sporting ground can trace its roots back even further, to 1857. Kirkstall Educational Cricket Club on Queenswood Drive, Headingley, was originally an offshoot to St Stephen’s Church, Kirkstall and an education society which happened to have a sports ground.
It dropped the word ‘society’ from its title in 1878.