World’s first club goes back to the future

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The story of the world’s first football club is told all over the globe.

But how many youngsters in Sheffield know about the history on their doorstep?

Sheffield FC Chris Dolby with young football mad kids

Sheffield FC Chris Dolby with young football mad kids

“Probably two per cent, if we’re lucky” admits Chris Dolby, who recently took on the job of promoting Sheffield FC across communities in South Yorkshire.

The irony of people travelling from all corners of earth to visit the birthplace of soccer - while many living locally largely ignore it - is not lost on Dolby. But in the few weeks since taking up post as “Foundation Director” at the club, he has started the process of getting the worldwide brand better known locally.

The Club has just signed a 10-year contract with the 10 teams that make up Greenhill Junior FC to develop and train their kids aged seven to 16.

Youngsters are encouraged in areas of fitness and nutrition, in the hope they may be the next Jamie Vardy, the former Stocksbridge Park Steels kid who Leicester City bought for £1m.

Leicester City's Jamie Vardy

Leicester City's Jamie Vardy

There are other curriculum based activities in place at Greenhill primary, as well as Dore, Thorpe Hesley, Anns Grove, St Wilfrid’s school where the Gospel of football is being spread.

On ‘history days’ Club representatives including chairman Richard Tims dress up in Victorian-style clothing to simulate days gone by.

Then there are after school and holiday camp days at the club’s base in Dronfield and in association with Millmoor Juniors, in Rotherham.

The club are also involved in a scholarship with “gifted and talented” footballers who are studying at Maltby Academy.

Dolby, the ex Rotherham United player who was the first Asian professional footballer in Britain, said on video at “I wouldn’t have taken a job at any other non league club. But we have a unique brand and we are trying to strengthen our ties with the public locally - in the same way we have managed all over the world.

“We are trying to help kids meet achievable goals, whether it is playing for our first team, our excellent women or futsall sides...or, becoming the next Jamie Vardy!”