Page last updated at 12:44 GMT, Wednesday, 24 October 2007 13:44 UK

Potting shed birth of oldest team

By Sallie George
BBC News, Yorkshire

Sheffield FC in 1890
Sheffield FC helped form many of the features of the modern game

As far back as the 14th Century, a game with two teams and a ball was being played in the streets of England.

Mob football, as it was known, was a violent game which could be played on makeshift pitches running the length of a town with hundreds of participants.

Though the game evolved over the years, it was not until 24 October 1857 that the first organised football club was formed, laying down a new set of rules.

From its headquarters in a potting shed and greenhouse, Sheffield FC was born.

Laying foundations

Co-founded by keen cricketers William Prest and Nathaniel Creswick in order to keep their fitness levels up during winter, their new code of laws for the game became the foundations for the first commonly accepted set of rules.

Nathaniel Creswick, co-founder of Sheffield FC
The founders were cricketers who wanted to keep fit during the winter

Members organised themselves into teams for matches such as Married Men versus Unmarried Men, and Professional Occupations versus The Rest.

Soon the idea caught on, and by 1862, 15 clubs had been formed in the Sheffield area.

A founder member of the Football Association, Sheffield FC pioneered new inventions in the game over the following decades, including heading, the introduction of a solid crossbar, the first use of corner kicks, free kicks for fouls and floodlit matches.

The team, which plays in red shirts and black shorts, was closely involved in the formation of Sheffield United in 1889, providing some players for the team's early games.

Sheffield FC's influence diminished with the advent of professional football, but the club finally bought land for its own ground in 2001.

Now playing at the Bright Finance Stadium next to the Coach and Horses pub in Dronfield, Sheffield FC's senior side have recently won promotion to the Unibond League - the highest position in the club's history.

Run by full-time chairman Richard Tims, 43, the oldest football team in the world has gone from its humble beginnings in a Sheffield potting shed to a club of three senior teams, 13 junior teams, a women's team and one disability team.

A club spokesman said: "Their commitment of playing for the love of the game is as strong in 2007 as it was in the time of the founders.

"It embodies everything that is good about grassroots football and the positive role it can play in the community."

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