As Sheffield FC celebrated their 159th birthday this week, the world’s oldest football club craved one gift above all others.
As the birthday messages flooded in from local ‘rules’ rivals Hallam FC to world governing body FIFA, the club announced that they would be applying for UNESCO World Cultural Heritage status.
A statement on the club’s website confirmed that they would be applying for Olive Grove to be recognised as the place where the world’s first football club began playing, and that they would be asking the UK Government for support in the matter.
Her Majesty’s Government was also given an honorary club membership and declared the “Future Protector of Football” in the message from Chairman Richard Tims.
If accepted, Olive Grove would become the UK’s 29th World Heritage site, joining the likes of Canterbury Cathedral, the Palace of Westminster and the Giant’s Causeway on the prestigious list.
Olive Grove’s acceptance would be groundbreaking, as traditionally sporting heritage is overlooked by UNESCO which focuses on historical or architectural distinction. Olympia and the Colosseum make the list on this basis ahead of their sporting significance.
Sheffield FC hope to return to Olive Grove and have so far raised £150,000 towards that dream, funding a new pitch at the site which is being leased by the club in agreement with Sheffield City Council.
With a £2 million final target to build a complete stadium, progress remains slow, but the installation of a new pitch a year on from the launch of the campaign is a promising start.
On the field, the news has not been as good so far this season, with Sheffield FC languishing in 20th place in the Evo Stik Northern League First Division South after 13 games.
The Ladies team have fared better, with 5th place confirmed with a game to play against promoted Yeovil in their debut WSL 2 season.