14

THE STAR

www.thestar.co.uk Saturday, August 21, 2021

OPINION

CITY’SVICTORY

John P Wilson,
from Sheffield:
The Home of Football

Let’s make more of football heritage
S
heffield has won the
match to be recognised
as the Home of Football
but it has not yet won
the competition to capitalise
on the benefits this can bring to
the city.
A few years ago there were
many places claiming to be
the ‘home of football’ including Wembley and Arsenal but
now BBC, Sky TV, HSBC etc.
recognise Sheffield as the place
where modern football originated.
That will be celebrated today when the world’s oldest
surviving club Sheffield FC play
their first ever live match.
However, recognition is not
enough and is only the starting
point. Sheffield’s unique football heritage must be used to
boost its economy, tourism, ed-

ucation, health and wellbeing,
community, art and culture.
Stockport’s museum celebrates its production of hats
and Northampton proudly
boasts about the 15,000 shoes
in its museum.
The Wensleydale Creamery
attracts 300,000 annual visitors to taste and buy its wonderful cheeses.
Imagine what Sheffield
could do with the world’s most
popular spectator sport and its
four billion followers.
Sheffield has successfully
bid for and won the hosting of
the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022
and the Rugby League World
Cup 2022.
Yet, visiting fans are unlikely to stay longer than a few
hours unless there are other
attractions.

Our unique football history
and culture can be harnessed
to encourage visitors to see,
stay and spend in our hotels,
restaurants and shops. Football
heritage sits perfectly within
the Outdoor City branding.
Manchester and Liverpool
have successfully used their
football reputations to encourage economic regeneration,
trade delegations, etc.
Sheffield can learn from

Sheffield: The
Home of Football
strategy launch
at Sheffield Town
Hall

their achievements and it is
encouraging that Sheffield City
Council is recognising this potential. Support from the South
Yorkshire Combined Mayoral
Authority might also be used
to create an anchor attraction
to complement others such as
Yorkshire Wildlife Park.
Football is our biggest cultural asset and is highly attractive to all sections of society
and cultural groups.
Sheffield’s failed applications to host the 2013 City of
Culture and 2018 Great Exhibition of the North would have
benefited from the inclusion of
football in cultural strategies to
create inclusive engaged communities and successful bids.
Football heritage creates a
sense of place and identity for
people building communities

and giving them pride in where
they live.
It can also be used to encourage a healthy population;
enhance the wellbeing of its
citizens; and increase educational engagement.
Sheffield Home of Football is
a voluntary organisation which
represents football organisations across the city.
Its vision is to put Sheffield
on the world stage and use football heritage to create a healthy,
economically successful and
vibrant culture.
SHOF doesn’t own this football heritage, it belongs to us
all. It is the biggest game in the
world – how are you going to
use it to support Sheffield?
The SHOF strategy document can be downloaded from
www.homeoffootball.net