The Sheffield derby. What an opportunity for Sheffield. Why aren’t we shouting from the rooftops?
So as any football fan will know, Sunday 24th September sees the return to football of what I think is the greatest, most famous, fiercely competed football derby in the world. The Steel City Derby when Sheffield Wednesday host Sheffield United. I don’t say it in jest either, I mean it. Neither Sheffield football club has had until recent times in the case of Sheffield Wednesday, the resources to compete like the billionaire play things that are Manchester United and Manchester City, but money can’t buy passion, it can’t buy desire and a sheer will to want your own team to win.
But as I look beyond the fierce rivalry on the pitch, I can’t help but see a huge missed opportunity off the pitch when it come to Sheffield marketing itself as the place for football. Sheffield the the home of football yet it seems to be only murmured in the corners of the city rather than used as a piece of national, and international, marketing.
Sheffield created football – the best kept secret?
But for me the reasons why this is the greatest football derby in the world comes down to one main thing; history! Not history of the specific fixture but history in the fact that Sheffield is the home of football. Our great city created the game long before the FA incorporated the rules.
It’s a well knows, yet little shouted for, fact that we have the oldest football team in the world with Sheffield FC, formed in 1857.
Sheffield invented the beautiful game. Incredible isn’t it. Bramall Lane, home of Sheffield United, is the oldest professional sports ground in the world, originally used for cricket, opening in 1855.
In 1867 Sheffield hosted the worlds first football tournament, the Youdan Cup. Sheffield rules football also created the much debated offside rule!
There are people in a position of much greater knowledge than I about our cities fantastic heritage of football but it frustrates me when I see things like the national football museum open up in Manchester of all places.
Snooker, Special Olympics, Ice Sheffield, EIS, why not football?
As we rightly celebrated the incredible special Olympics which came to our city in 2017 and as we rightly celebrate the World Snooker Championships coming to the Crucible each year, why then, as we showcase ourselves as the Outdoor City, are we not shouting about our rich heritage as innovators of the beautiful game?
Olympians are celebrated in our city and we have the brilliant English Institute of Sport. Why then do we not celebrate our cities rich heritage of football?
Sheffield FC are hoping to move back to their original home but they need more funding. As a sporting city, home to two big football clubs in Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday, the birthplace of the game, why are we not showcasing our history and place in the international space as an authority on the game?
Sunday’s game is an incredible spectacle. It is where two sets of fans stand steadfast in their loyalty to red and white or blue and white. But when we remove the respective colours and look behind the passion, it is all born from a love of the game which, ultimately, our city created.
What an opportunity we have to celebrate, to showcase the city in the right light.
I call to both major football clubs, the council, all those with an interest in the outdoor city, tourism to our city and beyond to embrace this as a tremendous opportunity to show just why Sheffield is the place to be when it comes to football.
Contact me, let’s chat!