Today, October 24th, is the 150th birthday of Sheffield FC and a gala dinner at Sheffield's Cutlers Hall will mark the celebration, with FIFA President Sepp Blatter in attendance.
Earlier in the day Blatter met Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Richard Caborn M.P. for Sheffield Central, and the governments FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 front man, at No. 10 Downing Street. Blatter has indicated that the rotation system, where each confederation gets its turn, might be abandoned at an up coming FIFA Executive meeting. South Africa will play host in 2010, Brazil probably in 2014 and then it would probably be CONCACAF's turn again, with USA the obvious choice.
However no less than Franz Beckenbauer, World Cup winning player and coach and World Cup 2006 chief, believes that England must be the prime candidate for 2018 with its Premier League, rich soccer history, comfortable stadiums and transport and accommodation infrostructure, even though prices of most things are twice that in the USA. Later today there will be a service at Sheffield Cathedral to celebrate Sheffield FC with the choirboys wearing THE CLUB's team numbers on the back of their cassocks, and the unveiling of a long lost but recovered bust of one of the 2 founders 150 years ago. Wiilian Prest a wine merchant,the being Nathaniel Chadwick. Rev Dr Giles Francis will read a sermon but can't promise that 'I won't wear my Chelsea blue replica jersey under my robes'
I recently viewed a small exhibition on the history of THE CLUB at Sheffield Central Library, and a new book has been published called From Sheffield With Love, by Brendan Murphy, which all lovers of soccer history might want to purchase. Last Saturday afternoon I watched Sheffield FC easily win 2-0 in the first preliminary round of the F.A. Trophy at Horsfall Stadium, home of former Football League team Bradford Park Avenue in front of just 200 fans. Park Avenue are 100 years old this season and now play in green and white hoops, which they changed to in 1911 when they had a former Celtic player, Tom Maley as a manager many decades ago. I much prefer their old colours of amber, red and black hoops, which they now use as an 'away' strip.
They once rivalled Bradford City for attention in the West Yorkshire city, but fell on hard times. They had a crowd of 17,000 when they switched on their new floodlights against Czechoslovakia in the 60's and had the legendary Len Shackleton as a player who scored 166 goals in six wartime season for them before he was sold to Newcastle United in 1946 and then 2 years later he went to Sunderland for a then record fee of £20,500. In his first match for Newcastle United he had scored 6 goals in a 13-0 romp over Newport County. On Christmas Day in 1944 he played for Park Avenue in the morning and City in the afternoon during wartime.There is a wall full of Park Avenue and Len Shackelton history in the Horsfall Stadium's Social Club. In 1956 he published his autobigraphy, Clown Prince of Soccer with chapter 9- The Average Director's Knowledge of Football,- a blank page. A former manager was Vic Buckingham who later went on to coach Ajax, Sheffield Wednesday, Fulham and Barcelona, and a former player was Ron Greenwood a future West Ham United and England manager.
Another famous birthday today is WAYNE ROONEY, age 22 years young, who helped beat Dinamo Kiev 4-2 in the Champions League in Ukraine last night, and who has recently regained his goal scoring form with 7 goals in 6 matches for England and United. Wayne wears NIKE shoes which has prevented him from being in many England team promotions since the national teams play in UMBRO. However, it was announced yesterday that NIKE will purchase UMBRO, the Cheshire based company for about $600 million, but that England will keep the Umbro brand which won't be changed.