Goalpost signs on M1: How Sheffield plans to market itself as the home of the beautiful game

Goalpost signs on the M1 could soon greet visitors to Sheffield, as part of wide-ranging plans to market the city as the true ‘home of football’.

Friday, 28th February 2020, 2:14 pm
Updated Friday, 28th February 2020, 5:06 pm

Sculptures inspired by the beautiful game would also be erected outside the railway station and other key locations, and a football archive centre would be launched, as Sheffield tries to celebrate and cash in on its proud sporting heritage.

Those are among the proposals set out in a 180-page strategy to promote the city’s footballing history, which is due to be unveiled at Sheffield Town Hall next Wednesday, March 4.

Sheffield FC is the world’s oldest football club, Hallam FC has the oldest ground, Sheffield’s Youdan Cup was the sport's first knockout competition and the 1858 Sheffield Rules introduced many fundamentals of the modern game like corners and throw-ins.

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Pictured clockwise from top left are an early game at Bramall Lane, the M1 motorway where signs welcoming drivers to 'Sheffield Home of Football' could be based, and a copy of the hugely influential 1858 Sheffield Rules which shaped the beautiful game as we know it

Yet the city has previously been accused of doing too little to stake its claim as the crucible of the world's biggest spectator sport – losing out to the likes of Manchester, where the National Football Museum is located.

That's something Sheffield Home of Football Ltd hopes to change with its Sheffield Home of Football Document, written by the University of Sheffield's Dr John P Wilson and two MBA students.

Councillor Anne Murphy, who chairs the not-for-profit organisation, said: “Football is far more than just a game. That's why it's of paramount importance we develop our unique position as its home.

“The sport builds communities, encourages social cohesion, boosts health and well-being, and is a major contributor to the economy.

“We want to use our heritage to make Sheffield a more attractive place to live, work, visit, invest and play.”

Sheffield Home of Football comprises representatives from Sheffield University and Sheffield Council, while Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield FC and Hallam FC are among the members of its advisory body.

The group launched the popular Football Heritage walking app in 2018, and BBC’s Dan Walker – who wrote the foreword for the strategy and is a patron of the organisation – unveiled the Football Treasures Day exhibition at Sheffield Library that year, which was curated by football historian Martin Westby.