Many would cite it as one of the most important documents ever to be unveiled at Sheffield Town Hall.
In fact the city is hoping the 180 pages launched tomorrow (Wednesday, March 4th) will be the catalyst to claw back more than 160 years of lost history and make the ‘Made in Sheffield’ brand as synonymous with the world’s most popular spectator sport as it is with steel.
Sheffield – 163 years after the world’s oldest football club was formed within its boundaries – is lining up to ensure the world never forgets its place as the global home of the beautiful game.
As far as sporting legacies go, the city’s footballing credentials are beyond reproach. It boasts amongst other things the world’s oldest team, first ground, first trophy, first derby, first floodlit game – even many of the rules of the modern game were first used Sheffield.
The city is hoping the unveiling of the ‘Sheffield Home of Football Document’ will start to build on the early successes of Sheffield Home of Football Ltd, the not-for-profile organisation behind the strategy which comprises representatives from Sheffield University, Sheffield Council, Sheffield Libraries and Archives and the author of a history of early Sheffield football. There is also an advisory body that includes Sheffield FC, Hallam FC, SWFC, SUFC, Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA, Football Unites Racism Divides, Sporting Memories and various historians.
Councillor Anne Murphy, chair of the group, said: “Football is far more than just a game. That’s why it’s of paramount importance we develop our unique position as its home. The sport builds communities; encourages social cohesion; boosts health and well-being and is a major contributor to the economy. We want to use our heritage to make Sheffield a more attractive place to live, work, visit, invest and play.”
Highlights of the far-reaching strategy – which has been written by Sheffield University’s Dr John P Wilson and two MBA students – include proposals for goalpost-style signage over the M1 motorway on the border of the city hailing ‘Welcome to Sheffield Home of Football’; sculptures in key areas like outside the Midland Station celebrating contributions to the beautiful game and the launch of a Football Archive Centre.
The group launched the popular Football Heritage walking app in 2018 and BBC’s Dan Walker – who wrote the foreword for the strategy and is also a patron of the group – unveiled the Football Treasures Day at Sheffield Library in 2018 that was attended by over 2,000 people. It was curated by renowned football historian Martin Westby.
The same year the group installed a commemorative plaque at the grave Nathaniel Creswick – the founder of the world’s oldest football club, Sheffield FC.