Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Not Just Playing With Themselves

Anniversary Time

The oldest existing football club was founded in Sheffield on 24 October, 1857. It is a non-league team and is due to start its 150th season on Saturday with a home game in Step 4 of the Non-League Pyramid against Grantham Town. The team is Sheffield FC, who are newly promoted to the Unibond League (Division 1, South).

But if they were the first team, then who on earth did they play against? Well the answer is fairly obvious. Amongst themselves, members sorted out the competing teams.

Club Competitions

A second club was founded three years later at Hallam, which is also in Sheffield. The first inter-club contest was played on Hallam's ground on Boxing Day 1860. So Hallam FC v Sheffield FC is the oldest Derby in the world. Furthermore, Hallam still play on their original uneven pitch, which doubles as a cricket pitch.

There was nothing more delightful than going to watch the teams play on Hallam's ground last Boxing Day - 146 years to the day after the initial contest. See here.

By only 1862, no fewer than 15 clubs were organised in the Sheffield area. Sheffield FC helped to codify the game - with the heading of the ball permitted and crossbars introduced. The Sheffield Clubs were also the backbone of the FA which was founded the following year.

Coming Home

Sheffield FC surprisingly had never owned a ground until last season. It is a few hundred yards from my home. They initially moved into the ground in 2001, with my support as the then local MP.

The Club is now fully part of its community. It runs an invaluable "Boots for Africa" campaign, travels to overseas tournaments, has links to the top of FIFA and runs or provides backing to teams for children, youths, disabled and women.

They should be receiving national coverage within the next two months. Here is their web-site, which tells you much more.


mrs k said...

Glad your back

Oh and Sunderland won, then a draw. Great start.

Harry Barnes said...

Mrs K, I am afraid that it is wall to wall Sunderland on my TV. I have either watched live or later recorded/edited verions of 4 friendlies and the 2 League games so far. But on Saturday, I will also watch live Sheffield FC v Grantham in the Unibond.