Football History – Sheffield Steel

BRITAIN Oldest Club

Sheffield FC in 1857

If previous world cups are anything to go by, the meat grinder of the European leagues will have ground down the best the players in the world and it can fall to a younger and less well known players to shine. My two best teams in 2010 – Ghana and Germany – lost their best known players (Ballack and Essien both of Chelsea) yet still ended up being the most entertaining teams of the tournament. This is because of the tough physical realities of playing in the biggest money leagues in the world – La Liga in Spain and The Premiership in England. When Gianlucca Vialli came to Chelsea from Juventus in 1996 he spoke no English and had to learn from scratch. One of the first words he learned playing in the Premier league was “knackered”.
But there is more to it than just physical condition at the end of a long season. Highly experienced strikers like those prosper within a team, the team they are familiar with and integrated to. This is because clubs are the essence of football, not countries. Some would say that club football is the true football – a team of players who play together every week, rain or shine; no countries, no flags just talent – as Arsene Wenger said when he joined Arsenal the same year as Vialli signed for Chelsea – “if you are good, you are in … that’s all …”


As far as anyone can tell, the first association football club to be founded was Sheffield FC in Yorkshire in 1857, the same year as the Indian Mutiny and when the Liberals were in power and Lord Palmerston was PM. The club pre-dates the formation of the Football Association in 1863, at the Freemason’s Tavern, Mortlake, London by Ebenezer Cobb Morley.It was Morley who drafted the first of the rules at his home in Barnes, London and played in the first game under those rules – between two (upmarket) districts of south-west London – Barnes v Richmond, the result was a 0 – 0 draw.


At the outset clubs played to their own rules, being divided into teams who played each other. In 1860, Sheffield contested the first inter – club game against city rivals Hallam – the first ever “City Derby”. Initially they played at Bramall Lane, but moved away and the site is now the home of Sheffield United of League One. The club eventually moved out of the county and are now based in Dronfield, Derbyshire where they continue to play to this day as an amateur side in the Northern Premier League. Their greatest successes were 1904 when they won the FA Amateur Cup and in 1977 they were runners-up in the FA Vase. In 2004 they were awarded the FIFA Order of Merit as the world’s oldest club still playing competitively – the only other club to be honoured that year was Real Madrid for their outstanding contribution to the club game.


Copyright ©2014 Savereo John

History Quotes – Machiavelli

“From this arises an argument: whether it is better to be loved than to be feared, or the contrary. I reply that one should like to be both one and the other; but since it is difficult to join them together it is much safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking. For one can generally say this about men; that they are ungrateful, fickle, simulators and deceivers, avoiders of danger, greedy for gain; and while you work for their good they are completely yours offering you their blood, their property, their lives and their sons …. when danger is far away; but when it comes nearer to you they turn away. And that prince who bases his power entirely on their words, finding himself completely without other preparations, comes to ruin; for friendships that are acquired for a price and not by greatness and nobility of character are purchased, but not owned, and at the proper moment they cannot be spent. And men are less hesitant about harming someone who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared because loved is held together by a chain of obligation which, since men are wretched creatures, is broken on every occasion in which their own interests are concerned; but fear is sustained by a dread of punishment which will never leave you.”


From The Prince (1513) by Niccolo Machiavelli

Savereo John History

“At the peace talks in 1919, Britain was fully aware of the dangers of imposing too severe a penalty on the Germans; but the French were not to be denied. For them, the war had meant two million dead and a vast tract of north eastern France laid waste. Much has been written about the devastation wrought by the fighting, but nothing in our modern experience even comes close to describing it. Perhaps a single image will help. In 1914, the French village of Douaumont was a thriving rural community, a few miles from an ancient fortress that had guarded the road to Paris since Roman times. In 1916 it was the scene of some of the most ferocious fighting between French and Germans during the battle of Verdun. Such was the intensity of the artillery bombardment that the village was completely obliterated – and I mean that quite literally, there wasn’t a single stone left standing. In fact, the only way you could tell that there had been ever anything there at all was a vague grey smudge in the soil visible only from the air. During the battle, the combatants fired off 40 million artillery shells, that’s six per square metre of the battlefield, which in some places resembled the surface of Mars with a permanent smog overhead of Mustard Gas and Phosgenes mixed in with the noxious smell from the rotting corpses that littered the battlefield. All that is left now is a cemetery containing the remains of 100,000 unidentified soldiers from both sides out of the three hundred thousand who perished there.”


From Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word by Savereo John (2010)

Book Quotes – Niall Fergusson

… Britain had substantial interests in the country [Egypt in the 1880’s]. What the oil in Iraq is today, so the Suez canal was then. More than 80% of the traffic going through the canal was British – indeed 13% of Britain’s entire trade went through the canal – and in 1876 Britain had acquired a substantial shareholding in the canal company itself. Moreover, the Egyptian economy had emerged during the American Civil War as an alternative source for the raw cotton insatiably consumed by Britain’s textile industry. As if that were not enough, a substantial chunk of the Egyptian external debt was held by British bondholders, including the new Prime Minister himself [William Gladstone]. Today’s liberal commentators fret about the links between the Bush administration and oil companies like Halliburton. But Halliburton’s share price declined by a third in the three years after former chief executive Dick Chaney became Vice President, whereas Gladstone’s substantial investments in Egyptian loans soared in value – by over 40 percent – as a direct result of his decision to invade. Had this fact become known at the time, it is hard to say what the effect would have been on Gladstone’s reputation for sea-green incorruptibility.


From Colossus by Niall Fergusson (2004)

Book Quote – Kushwant Singh

“When the Aryans came to India there were seven rivers in the Punjab, so they named it Sapta Sindhva, the land of the seven seas. The Persians took the name from the Aryans and called it the Hapta Hindva. Some time later, after the seventh river, the Sarasvati, had dried up, people began to exclude the Indus from the count (since it marked only the western boundary of the province) and named it as Pentopotamia or the Panj-ab, the land of the five waters.”

From History of the Sikhs by Kushwant Singh (1963)

Book Quote – Abraham Eraly

“The world is a bridge; pass over it, but build no house on it ” cautions the inscription on the façade of Buland Darwaza, the towering portal that Akbar built at the Friday Mosque at Fatehpur Sikri to celebrate his conquest of Gujarat. “The world endures but an hour, spend it in prayer …”

From the Mughal Throne by Abraham Eraly (1997)

Book Quotes – Niall Fergusson

“[In 1914 at the outbreak of the first world war] … it also worried Sir John French, Nicholson’s successor as Chief of the Imperial General Staff that the Belgians might be prepared to disregard a limited infringement of their territory. The meeting concluded that

‘In order to bring the greatest possible pressure to bear upon Germany it is essential that the Netherlands and Belgium be entirely friendly to this country, in which case we should limit their overseas trade, or that they should be definitely hostile in which case we should extend the blockade to their ports.’

In other words – if the Germans had not violated Belgian neutrality in 1914, Britain would have. This puts the British Government’s much-vaunted moral superiority in fighting ‘for Belgian neutrality’ in another light.”

From The Pity of War by Niall Fergusson (1998)