Sheffield - City of Sport
Sports in Sheffield hold a special place in the hearts of the citizens of the Steel City, and football reigns supreme. Many other sports are popular in Sheffield of course, but not like football. Sheffield United crowds arrive to cheer like it's their job. There are chants and songs that have to be sung in different game situations, the most popular being The Greasy Chip Butty Song. The words to the song mention Magnet Beer, Woodbine Cigarettes, snuff, and a greasy chip butty (which, for those not sure, is a kind of sandwich!).
A scene from the Full Monty provides more evidence of the passion with which football is followed in Sheffield. While practicing their dance routine, the lads cannot seem to get it together until a soccer analogy comparing the dance line to an offside trap is put before them. That comparison makes crystal clear what is needed as the offside trap is second nature to the Sheffield men, and the necessary footwork is also common knowledge.
The world's oldest football club was formed in Sheffield in 1857. Founders Nathanial Creswick and William Prest called their team Sheffield F.C. The founders decided to write a rulebook known as "Sheffield Rules", and by 1860 there were 15 football clubs in Sheffield alone. Sheffield United Football Club was formed in 1889. The United part is from the team's origins as the Sheffield United Cricket Club. The team kept the United, and dumped the Cricket. Since the infancy of football, cricket interest in Sheffield has waned a little, but it still has many followers.
Sheffield first won the FA Cup Final in 1899. More recently they have been on what would kindly be described as a cold streak as they work towards their second cup win. Sheffield United is not the only football club in the city. Sheffield Wednesday FC was another reformed cricket club that used to play on Wednesdays, which explains the unique name. Other clubs include Hallam F.C., Sheffield F.C., Steel City Wanderers, and Stocksbridge Park Steels F.C.
Not all of the cricket teams went belly up when football's popularity exploded. Sheffield United Cricket Club, Hallam Cricket Club, and Sheffield Collegiate C.C. are some local clubs, many of which represent Sheffield in the South Yorkshire Cricket League that originated in 1947.
Since 1991, the Sheffield Steelers have played Ice Hockey at their home in the Sheffield Arena. By 1994 the Steelers had won more championships than Sheffield United did in the past century. A few other ice hockey teams in town are the Sheffield Scimitars of the English Premier League, The Sheffield Spartans play in the English National League and a women's team called the Sheffield Shadows do battle in a premier women's league. The Sheffield Ice Tigers are a recreational level hockey club.
Basketball is quite popular as well. The Sheffield Sharks play at Ponds Forge in the British Basketball League. The team won their first league championships in their inaugural season in 1994. They have since won it two more times. The Sheffield
Arrows play in the English Basketball League, and the Sheffield Hatters play the female version of basketball in the city. They dominated the National League from 1991 to 2002, but have been in rebuilding mode since that amazing achievement.
Sheffield is home to some world-class sports facilities, most built to host the World Student Games which took place in 1991. Don Valley International Athletics Stadium, Sheffield Arena, and Ponds Forge International Swimming and Diving complex are among them. The city also has facilities for golf, ice skating, bowling, climbing, and skiing. Sheffield is also home to the English Institute of Sports, and will host the Commonwealth Games in 2014 or 2018.
Sheffield City Council is very interested in sports as well, and has formed the Sheffield Major Sports Events Unit to help bring sporting events to the city and provide income to the local economy. In the twelve years from 1991 to 2003 the council determined sporting events to bring in 46.7 million pounds, created 990 full time jobs, and brought 639,000 visitors to the city who would not have come without the sporting events. These figures don't include the World Student Games of 1991, and are the main reason the City Council has developed a strategy to get more events in Sheffield.
Sheffield's Major Events Unit Strategy is to improve the image of The City of Sheffield and show a diverse economic base to attract outside investment in the city. They emphasize that 'Made in Sheffield' still means quality, whether it be cutlery, or sporting events, they bring income to their event venue partners, and they help the people of Sheffield regain a sense of pride they must feel has been lacking in the later part of the last century.
The list of spectator sporting events that take place in Sheffield certainly has something for everyone. Swimming, judo, bowling, basketball, cycling, squash, table tennis, snooker, running and volleyball are all sports represented by an event on Sheffield's sports calendar this year. Some of the events do however just sound made up however; during August 15th - 26th Ponds Forge ISC hosted the World Underwater Hockey Championships. I would think the equipment would weigh you down and skates would rust, but that's one I would have attended if I'd been in the area. Finally, how could we forget the World Snooker Championships at the Crucible? There are plenty of events to choose from, so if you are in the Sheffield area get out and support your local team, or attend one of the many sporting events Sheffield plays host to.