Sport25th October 2013

A sense of Community through Deaf Football

Deaf Football in Britain has a long and proud history

by Sarah Lawrence

The history of deaf sport in the UK is a long one. Whilst the exact chronology is in doubt, it is believed deaf sports clubs were formed before any Deaf Clubs, deaf sports emerging from some of the church led deaf schools in the late 1800's. Unsurprisingly, with football very much a British game, Deaf Football Clubs were at the forefront of this development.

There are currently 25 active deaf football clubs in Great Britain with most of them competing in mainstream football leagues around the country. The majority of clubs compete in the British Deaf Football Cup annually, a competition which has been running since 1959. Clubs based in England also compete for the English Deaf Cup, and Scottish clubs participate in the Scottish Deaf Cup.

Deaf Football in Great Britain has a very proud and strong history, dating back to 1871. Despite the prominence of football in Britain,  the majority of the game's followers are unaware of how long deaf football has been established. Deaf Football clubs have been around longer than the majority of the teams in the English and Scottish Football League pyramid. Great Britain boasts the oldest deaf football club in the world in Glasgow Deaf Athletic Football Club, which was founded in 1871 and is still a thriving club.

Glasgow Deaf Athletic Football Club is one of the oldest sporting clubs in the world, set up only eleven years after Sheffield FC who are known to be the first football club in the world. Glasgow Deaf Athletic Football Club was established before famous clubs such as Rangers FC (1873), Celtic (1881) and Manchester United (1878).

Professional Deaf Footballers

Deaf footballers have managed to reach professional/semi professional ranks over the last century, but the opportunities have been limited. Some historical accounts suggest that other deaf footballers had the physical attributes and skills to play at the top level. but were rejected because of their deafness. Those deaf footballers who did achieve professional league status include instances of players who were born profoundly deaf, became deaf at an early age or during their career. In recent years there have been a couple of semi professional deaf players playing in the lower leagues, but it is noticeable that there have been no profoundly deaf players in professional teams over the lat 20 years.

Great Britain Men - World Champions 2005


Famous Professional Deaf Footballers

Billy Nesbitt - Burnley
Cliff Bastin - Arsenal and England
Raymond Drake - Stockport County
Rodney Marsh - QPR, Manchester City, Fulham and England
Jimmy Case - Liverpool, Southampton and Brighton

Great Britain Men – World Champions 2005

The Great Britain Deaf Football Team have been crowned World Champions 6 times since the Deaflympics was first formed in 1924. Their success is better than any other country, and with the health of deaf football in Britain, it is hoped the team will continue to have great success.

Doncaster College Deaf FC - FA Futsal Champions


The introduction of new formats of the game at the community level has seen Doncaster College Deaf Football Club  make both deaf history and football history by winning the 2005 FA National Futsal Championships. In no small achievement, the Doncaster team became the first ever disability team to win a major mainstream competition. The team went on to be the only English representative at the UEFA Futsal Cup in 2007/08

The women's game in Britain is also on the rise, with the Great Britain Team ranked at Number 3 in the world as a result of reaching the semi finals in the 2005 Deaflympics. In the 2013 Games in Sophia, Bulgaria, the Women's Team went on to secure the bronze medal, maintaining their position as one of the best teams in the world.

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Deaf Sport / Sport

25th October 2013