It is a strange fact that the most important football culture that existed in the entire world during the 1850s and the 1860s, a time when the two varieties of the game, soccer and rugby, began to take on a distinctly modern appearance, has been largely ignored by historians. The culture was centred in Sheffield and its study provides a unique and detailed insight into the early history of the modern game. In this chapter we shall consider the emergence and fruition of the various elements that were to combine to create this. The chapter consists of four parts. In the first, we consider the foundations of Sheffield’s football culture, primarily the years between 1857 and 1860. The next part examines the various clubs that existed between 1861 and 1867, particularly the amount of activity, their relative strength, the extent and composition of their membership, and their finances. In the part titled ‘The evolution of Sheffield’s code’ we consider the crucial element that united these clubs, ‘The Sheffield Rules’, a playing code that embraced almost every club in the area, preventing many of the disputes over rules that caused such disruption in the London area. The final part concerns itself with Sheffield’s impact on the rest of the country, both directly, via its contact with outside bodies, and indirectly, the impression made by the creation of the Sheffield FA and the staging of events such as the Youdan Cup. We commence with the first part of our study, an examination of the foundation of Sheffield’s football culture.