Many sports have taken place in Barnsley which are not immediately familiar. This page lists a few unusual sports and pastimes that have taken place in Barnsley over the years:-
Horse Racing - Although it never rivalled Doncaster, Barnsley had its races in 1717, when the Earl of Strafford gave a piece of plate to be run for on Barnsley Town Moor (now Locke Park). The races, which were for years a flourishing institution, lapsed about the year 1776, a year before the commons were enclosed. They were recommenced in 1851, and were continued with certain intervals until 1859, when they ceased.
Cockfighting - In 1774 and other years cockfights between gentlemen of Yorkshire and Derbyshire were held at the sign of the Six Ringers Inn (now the Lemon Tree in Peel Square).
Bear & Bull baiting was also considered essential to the town's attractions in the latter part of the seventeenth century. It is often said that the last bear baiting meeting was held in Barnsley.
Boxing - took place on the site of what is now the 2nd XV rugby field at Shaw Lane in the 50's with an outdoor "gymnasium' being used by young boxing hopefuls to train for their sport. Many gyms existed in town over the years and the one behind the "Junction Inn" was the most famous.
Polo - although not a sport which is easy to imagine taking place in a 19th century mining town, polo was played quite regularly at Middlewood Hall, Darfield, Here is a report from the Barnsley Chronicle in 1905,
"MIDDLEWOOD v HULL- On Tuesday these teams met on the Highfield Enclosure at Darfield and played before a moderate attendence of spectators. The Middlewood men assumed the attack and suceeded in scoring two before Hull scored. The game was a very evenly contested one and resulted in a tie of four goals each"
Bounce Ball - we are still trying to discover information about this sport. What we do know is that it was played between two people and appears to have been popular with Barnsley folk.
From the Chronicle dated 1895:-
"MATCH IN BECKETT'S SQUARE - On Saturday last a very exciting bounce ball match took place in Becketss Square in the presence of 400 to 500 persons. The players were James Wilson (alias Massey Fox) and Joseph (alias Snarlo) Rose.
Rose who got the last stroke ultimately won by one"
Radio Hams - The Barnsley Radio Club was formed in 1913, a few months after the original London Wireless Club was formed. Its headquarters were at the cricket pavilion at Shaw Lane.
Grass Track Racing, the forerunner of Speedway, took place at Shaw Lane between the wars, although Lundwood was the main track. Barnsley hosted the first ever League match in Britain at Lundwood in 1929.
Football is now played at Shaw Lane at semi-professional level by Shaw Lane Aquaforce FC, the pitches being used by several junior sides including Barnsley West End Junior FC before that. The Cricket Club formed a side in 1970 which was administered by Arthur Mills, who was a well known character in Barnsley Football history. That team had several players of note including ex-professional Ken Leather (Halifax Town) and fomer England Schoolboy, Alan Clay. The history of Barnsley FC is well documented, and we do not intend to try to tell that story on these pages.