Address: 76 Penistone Road North,
Capacity: 39,732 (All-Seater)
An iconic English football ground and one that could well be on the shortlist for a host venue should England ever hold a major International tournament again. There would be some renovation work needed if it was chosen though.
Built in 1899, it has been the home of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club ever since.
Originally known as the Owlerton Stadium until 1914, Wednesday bought the site here when the land at their former home Olive Grove was needed for railway expansions. The club’s 2,000-capacity stand from the old ground was transported across Sheffield and a new 3,000-capacity stand was built with it.
Today, Hillsborough Stadium is one of the largest association football stadiums in the country and the biggest in any of the Yorkshire counties.
Location and Getting There
The ground is located in Owlerton, hence its former name, which is around three miles northwest of Sheffield City Centre. The Hillsborough borough is directly south of the stadium, Sheffield Speedway is to the southeast and Hillsborough Golf Club is to the west. Continuing northwest along first Catch Bar Lane and then Middlewood Road leads you to Sheffield Wednesday’s Training Ground.
Hillsborough Stadium is packed tightly into the surrounding residential area and street parking is certainly possible to find. The roads nearby are very tight and steep though and given the size of the ground and the typical attendances at matchdays, it’s very difficult to find any parking close to the stadium, though not impossible.
I would suggest heading northwest and trying one of the many streets that come off Middlewood Road to see if you can find any parking around there.
Sheffield Station is a long distance away near the City Centre and it can take around a
one hour to walk from here to the stadium, if that is really what you want to do.
Most fans choose to take Sheffield’s Supertram service. The Yellow Line has many stops throughout the city and it is usually the Leppings Lane stop which fans get off before walking the final bit to the stadium itself.
Outside the Stadium
Getting off at the Leppings Lane stop leaves you in view of the South Stand, the largest of the four at Hillsborough.
It has the nicest exterior, looking more like the front of a public building than a football stadium. It is made up mostly of brickwork and large panels with blue-framed windows throughout. The River Don runs down below the front of it and as a result you can get to this stand via a footbridge which leads you to the Reception Entrance. You can take one of two staircases from here that lead you down to the stand's walkway underneath.
This walkway is flanked by brick walls on both sides, housing turnstiles that provide access to both the South Stand and the upper tier Grandstand. Turnstiles 24-42 and 95-102 can be found along this side of Hillsborough Stadium. Head over towards the stadium's southwest corner and you'll find the entrance to The Wednesday Tap, a pub launched in 2017 to mark Sheffield Wednesday's 150th year. At the opposite end of the walkway is the South Stand Ticket Office.
Along the walkway's walls are multiple brick plaques that have the names of fans engraved on them. Each plaque is named after a notable Sheffield Wednesday player or moment.
To the left of the footbridge across the River Don is a memorial dedicated to the tragic Hillsborough disaster.
On the 15th April 1989, during a FA Cup Semi-Final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest which was taking place at Hillsborough Stadium, 96 men, women, and children tragically lost their lives in a crush in the Leppings Lane End on the western side of the ground. 766 people were also injured that day and it remains the worst disaster in the history of British Sport.
The tragedy resulted in the creation of the Taylor Report in 1990, which led to a series of safety improvements in stadiums up and down the country, additionally making it compulsory for clubs in the top two divisions of English football to have all-seater stadiums. Perimeter fencing, which was common practice at the time of the disaster, was also removed from around the pitch because of the Taylor Report.
To get round to the Leppings Lane End on the eastern side of the ground, which is named after the road that runs outside the back of it, you can head along Catch Bar Lane and turn right onto Leppings Lane, crossing the River Don and turning back on yourself slightly towards the turnstiles. Alternatively, you can head along the walkway underneath the South Stand and head round the stadium's southwest corner, passing by a set of disused turnstiles and the Stadium Control Box in the process.
The Leppings Lane End turnstiles are split between home and away fans, with the home ones (Gate A) leading to the adjacent North Stand seats. There is a fence between the two of them to stop fans mixing, and stewards check to make sure you are heading to the correct turnstile before you reach them.
The exterior of the Leppings Lane End is made up mostly of brick but the upper section has a blue banner with Sheffield Wednesday written across it. There is also a large picture of a white owls head in the centre, the same one which features on the Sheffield Wednesday Club Badge.
Turnstiles for the Leppings Lane End are out in front of the stand. Gates B and D are for the stand's upper tier, whilst Gate C in the middle is for the stand's lower tier. Fans enter through these turnstiles and can make use of the outer concourse before either heading up staircases to the upper tier of through a tunnel to the lower tier.
Home supporters access the North Stand by using the turnstiles at Gate A off Leppings Lane. With houses on Vere Road very close behind the stand, access to it is much more limited when compared to other sides of Hillsborough Stadium.
To get between the stadium's northwest and northeast corners, you will need to turn onto Vere Road and head all the way down it, joining Penistone Road North (A61) at the other end.
The exterior of the North Stand has translucent panels in place partway up but is dominated by blue cantilever and the underside of the seating area which hangs overhead.
Blue gates off Penistone Road North (A61) lead you into the North Car Park and out in front of you is the Owls Megastore. Around the corner from here is a white corrugated iron building which houses the Main Ticket Office as well as the SWFC Education Hub.
Whilst the majority of the North Stand turnstiles are off Leppings Lane, there is a turnstile off Penistone Road North (A61) which is considered part of Gate Y.
Continuing down the main road leads you to the East Stand entrances, which run regularly along the brick wall alongside blue exit doors which Sheffield Wednesday only open once the match has ended. Turnstiles 49-92 run alongside Penistone Road North (A61).
The East Stand is known as the Spion Kop, after a hill that was the scene of a battle in the Second Boer War. It is built onto a hill itself, and its exterior is made almost entirely out of blue corrugated iron with the words Sheffield Wednesday – Hillsborough spelt out in big white letters along the top.
Since the turnstiles aren’t actually in the Spion Kop itself, fans have to go through and then up staircases and ramps to reach the concourse inside.
Gates to the south of Turnstile 49 allow access around the Spion Kop and over to the South Stand walkway. Club car parking spaces are in place by this pedestrian walkway, along with additional Kop turnstiles, numbers 43-48.
Heading past Turnstiles 43-48 (for the Spion Kop) and Turnstiles 39-42 (for the South Stand) will bring you back underneath the South Stand.
Inside the Stadium
The South Stand is split into two tiers, with the lower tier being far larger than the upper ‘Grandstand’ tier.
A row of executive boxes separates the two levels from one another. The director’s seats are clearly visible in the very centre of the lower tier, amongst the rows of seats coloured in the club’s famous shade of blue.
Sheffield Wednesday use a few blocks of the Grandstand which are over towards the southeast corner as their family enclosure. You can find the club’s dugouts, changing rooms and tunnel all in this stand.
On the roof of the South Stand is an analogue clock that was originally part of Sheffield Wednesday’s Olive Grove home and was moved across the city when the club relocated. It still runs to this day. A large banner below this repeats SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY EST. 1867.
There are no supporting pillars anywhere in this stand that would restrict your view of the action and large windshields on either side protect all fans inside, except those sat towards the very front of the lower tier.
The Leppings Lane End is also two-tiered, but this stand has a much larger upper tier in comparison to its lower level. There are two staircases leading from one tier to another but these are normally not available for use.
Four large pillars hold the roof up at the front of the stand and there are additional pillars coming down half-way up, which means that your view of the action is likely to be restricted in the top tier. The central blocks of the lower tier can provide a clear view, however. A windshield over towards the southwest corner covers only half of the upper tier seats.
The North Stand is made up of a single tier.
Most of the blocks are made up of blue seating but the outer block at either end is made up of white seating. The letters CHANSIRI, in reference to Sheffield Wednesday’s owner Dejphon Chansiri, are spelt out in white across the blue blocks. There is an analogue clock at the top of this stand much like the South Stand opposite, and the banner along the top repeats WWW.SWFC.CO.UK , CHANSIRI, HILLSBOROUGH and SHEFFIELD.
Because of the North Stand’s cantilever roof, there are no supporting pillars coming down from above in this stand and as a result the view from every seat is perfectly clear.
Windshields at either end of the stand go only halfway down though.
The Spion Kop is divided into two tiers, though you can freely get from one to the other.
The upper tier is also slightly steeper than the larger tier beneath, and there is an unusually placed diagonal staircase going along part of the upper tier. In the centre of the lower tier are four columns of white seating with the letters THE OWLS and a picture of the same owl which has featured on past versions of Sheffield Wednesday’s Club Badge.
Four large pillars come down from the roof above and will restrict the view of all sat behind. Only those in the front rows of the lower tier will have a perfectly clear view. What you tend to find on a matchday is that the two central pillars leave the east goal completely blocked from view for certain seats, and since these are usually not taken up by fans, that often leaves two diagonal strips of empty seating when the rest of the stand is full.
Part of the seating blocks in the northeast corner are left uncovered by the roof above, and the windshields on either side of the Spion Kop only protect those sat in the upper tier.
Away fans are housed behind the goal in the Leppings Lane End.
Away followings usually take up the just the upper tier seats and it is only on occasions when Sheffield Wednesday expect a sell-out crowd that the lower tier seats and the northwest corner seats are opened up for fans as well.
Your view is not great from in here, with the central seats offering a much better view of the goal in front of you than the ones at either end of the stand. If you can get to a seat in one of the middle blocks, it's worth doing.
Pubs available to supporters on a matchday include:
-Champs Sports Bar and Grill (255 Ecclesall Road, S11 8NX) (Home and Away Supporters) (Located a fair distance from Hillsborough Stadium itself)
-The Howard (Howard Street, S1 2LW) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located very close to Sheffield Station)
-The New Barrack Tavern (601 Penistone Road, S6 2GA) (Away Supporters Welcome)
-The Railway (Penistone Road North (A61), S6 1LQ) (Away Supporters Welcome)
-The Rawson Spring (501 Langsett Road, S6 2LN) (A JD Wetherspoon Pub, Typically Home and Away Supporters)
-The Wednesday Tap (S6 1SW) (Home Supporters Only) (Located underneath Hillsborough's South Stand)
Hillsborough is a true great of English football stadia and a place you should have right up there on your football ground bucket list. You can understand looking at parts of the stadium exactly how old the place is and yet this ground has stood the test of time to remain one of the largest and most well-known stadiums in the country.
Add some notable renovation work one day and it could become one of the very best around.