Sheffield FC launch UNESCO bid to celebrate 159th birthday

Sheffield FC’s story isn’t just about football, it’s about heritage, history and hard times.

While Sheffield’s two big clubs, Wednesday and United, are more famous, it is Sheffield FC who holds the title of the world’s first ever football club.

Nicknamed ‘The Club’ Sheffield FC was founded 159 years ago this week, and began playing their games at Olive Grove. They now play at the Coach and Horses ground in Dronfield, with a capacity of just over 2,000.

They have moved from ground to ground over the last 159 years, playing at various locations in and around Sheffield including Don Valley Arena, Hunter’s Bar and Owlerton Park.

The club was founded by Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest and until 1860 played their matches between club members. They were also without facilities and players often had to get changed in the local pub.

In 1866 they played London City in their nation’s first inter-city club game at Battersea Park.

By 2004 the club had been awarded the order of merit by FIFA, becoming only the second club in the world to be given the honour, after Spanish giants Real Madrid.

Now, Chairman Richard Tims is hoping to gain the  World Cultural Heritage status from UNESCO for Olive Grove, the pitch where club football began in the UK.

The club are also hoping to raise enough money to move back to Olive Grove permanently, but have had to shelve plans to build a new 10,000 seater stadium for the time being.

Bob Heedings, who now runs the ground at Olive Grove, which hosts other amateur and grassroots teams, said: “It’s great the history attached to this place. We really support grassroots football here, just the way it should be, seeing as this was the birthplace of the world’s first club.”

“We have a group of students who use the ground every Saturday morning as well, they’re a newly established club last year, so it’s really great that kind of legacy and pioneer spirit is still living on.”


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