Non league day: Sheffield F.C. are the oldest existing team in football, boasting fans all over the world, including Pele

And in a way, the Brazilian's right.

'The Club', as they are authoritatively nicknamed, are the oldest football club known in existence.

They were formed in 1857 by Sir Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest, two locals who were part of the Sheffield cricket club.

Initially, matches like 'Married v Singles' or 'Professionals v the Rest' were played between members.

Creswick and Prest then drafted the club's rules of play that were decided during a AGM meeting in 1858.


Known as the Sheffield Rules, they were the first set of laws for the game of football.

They allowed the ball to be headed for the first time, introduced wooden crossbars, free-kicks, corners and the idea of playing under floodlights for the first time.

In 2004, Sheffield F.C. were awarded the Fifa Order of Merit – given to people who have made an outstanding contribution to the sport.

They and Real Madrid are the only clubs to be recipients of the prestigious honour.



While on their 15oth anniversary, Brazil's favourite No 10 Pele introduced the team when they played a friendly against an Inter Milan side featuring Mario Balotelli, who made his debut on British soil that night.

Some 160 years later and the club are still going strong today.


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Playing their home games at the BT Local Business Stadium in Dronfield, Derbyshire, Sheffield F.C. draw fans from all over the world.

Just days before non league day, SunSport took in a game at 'The Club' a crucial Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup tie against Worksop Town.



We also grabbed a chat with club chairman since 1999, Richard Tims who explained the heritage of the club to us.

He told us:"It's a responsibility and it has its good moments and bad moments when you're so emotionally invested.

"I never expected to be a football chairman, but I ended up with the job because I don't think anyone else wanted it at the time.

"But what we do is promote the city of Sheffield. We've been undervalued in the development of the game for so long.



"We're better known internationally than we are locally, so it's important we tell the world where football kicked off and have the world's first football club here.

"The city deserves the due recognition, it's where free kicks, corners, headers and the commonly accepted set of rules were developed.

"We have the oldest football ground in the world, which is Hallam F.C.'s Sandygate Road, first opened in 1860.

"We have the oldest sports ground in the world – Bramall Lane. It wasn't used for football until Sheffield FC played there in 1862 and was a cricket ground from 1855.


"Our pull is about recognising the true values of football.

"So, we're developing a brand alongside a football club that I suppose is theoretically playing at the wrong end of the game."

Tims, 54, explained the support that floods in for Sheffield F.C. from all over the world, as their social media proves.

He said: "Being the world's first football club means we're of interest to three billion football fans – genetically everybody came from us.


"It makes my audience quite big, and 80 percent of our traffic on our social media channels are international football fans.

"They don't want to support Sheffield F.C., but they love the idea of the world's first football club."

And they often get visitors from overseas, including from Germany last year when a group of Cologne fans took over the city of Sheffield.

"One of the fans sent me an email and I thought it got lost in translation because I assumed they meant four or five fans were coming over.


"But the chap came back to me and said he wanted to take 450! I looked at the calendar and we were away, we didn't even have a game.

"However, he was adamant that they were still going to make a pilgrimage to the home of football.

"I had to set up a game with a reserve team. Low and behold, 450 fans turned up, they were all drunk when they got here, drunk during the game and drunk after.

"But they were no bother. And unbelievably they all paid £10 to come in and see a game between two made up sides.



"They then ordered some buses and went into Sheffield and took over the city."

The Club of Pioneers, founded by Sheffield F.C. in 2013, is a network of the oldest continuing football clubs from each country.

Tims travels the world, spreading the club's message and wowing some of the biggest names in football.

They recognise each other, sometimes will play a game and promote the importance of football history and the grass roots and amateur game.



"I recently went to Norway, I went to Genoa in Italy and Galatasaray and I'm going out to Copenhagen," he said.

"We induct these teams and give them a special presentation.

"It gives us content and next year, hopefully, we'll be traveling to South America."

On his travels, Tims befriended former Barcelona President Joan Laporta, who was so impressed by Sheffield F.C.'s legacy he gave the ambitious chairman an idea.


"Whenever I travelled I found people were more amazed to meet me than I was.

"And I'm not being big-headed, it was purely about the historical value of Sheffield F.C.

"Laporta gave me the belief that there was a lot more to Sheffield F.C. than being a struggling non league club."

To celebrate their 150th anniversary, Tims hatched a plan to invite a Serie A giant to Sheffield.



"After we received a Fifa Merit, I then managed to get a game with Inter Milan a few years later.

"Balotelli made his debut in the UK that night and scored two. We lost the game 5-2.

"Sheffield United had a relationship with Pele and they managed to invite him over to introduce both teams.

"So you had Marco Materazzi, Balottelli, a painter and a decorator and a guy who works for Job Centre Plus all doing the same thing that night."



Back to the modern day, and that tricky cup tie with Worksop Town where things aren't going to plan.

Despite a passionate team talk with gaffer Gavin Smith, The Club go down 3-1 at home and crash out of the Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup.

Still, at least the Evo-Stik side can now concentrate on the league.

Even if there's more to Sheffield F.C. than winning.

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