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Last Updated: Friday, 9 November 2007, 13:10 GMT
Pele joins Sheffield celebrations
By Jonathan Rawcliffe

Sheffield Football Club
Sheffield FC were the world's first football club
Pele attended non-league Sheffield FC's friendly match against Inter Milan at Bramall Lane on Thursday.

The fixture is part of the South Yorkshire club's 150th anniversary celebrations, confirming their status as the world's oldest football club.

"I think he's quite honoured to be invited to mark 150 years of the game," Sheffield FC chairman Richard Tims told BBC Sport.

Inter Milan won 5-2 and Tims added: "This is where football kicked off."

With Fifa president Sepp Blatter having attended the club's anniversary dinner last month, Tims believes Sheffield's contribution to shaping the game is recognised across the globe.

Formed on 24th October 1857 by Sheffield cricketers William Prest and Nathaniel Creswick, many ideas the club adopted are still used in football today.

This club is a conscience for the world of football and money.

Sheffield FC chariman Richard Tims

"In the early days, this club was the driving force behind the organisation of the game. That's what Blatter and football historians recognise," Tims said.

"This wasn't just the first football club - it made many innovations to the game. It was pioneering, and developed things like crossbars, corner kicks and free kicks.

"I'm not saying that without Sheffield FC there wouldn't have been football, but we were there first."

Currently playing in the UniBond First Division South, Tims insists the club's emphasis remains not so much on climbing the leagues as providing an alternative to the modern game.

"Before the Football League came along around the time of professionalism, football was just a game, played for sporting endeavour. Now, football is an industry - Sheffield were never really part of that.

"If you like, this club is a conscience for the world of football and money.

"Let's not forget what football actually means to most people around the world. It's not about how much money you can make out of it, it's about playing for the love of the game, jumpers for goal posts and all that.


"We're not a million miles away from league football, and I would never say never, but I wouldn't say it's high on our agenda. We are realistic - five years ago we didn't even have a ground."

As part of his visit, Pele will open an exhibition which will include the first public showing in 40 years of the original hand written rules of football. A Sheffield FC visitors centre will feature in the club's future plans.

"People are always interested in the historical roots of things," said Tims. ""We've got artefacts and memorabilia that should be of interest to every football fan around the world.

"Sheffield FC is a powerful brand. We're trying to become everyone's second favourite football team, so whether you support Bolton Wanderers or Boca Juniors, you can still support the world's oldest football club."


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