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New book about Sheffield FC Founder, Sir Nathaniel Creswick, released

The Lord Mayor and Colonel Norton with representatives of Sheffield Home of Football and constituent clubs and organisations including Sheffield FC, Rich-ard Timms, chair of Sheffield FC

Post by Nick Patridge, SHOF Trustee.

This week saw the launch of a new book about the ‘Life and Times’ of Sir Nathaniel Creswick, one of Sheffield FC founders, the oldest football club in the world still playing here in Sheffield since 1857. 

The Lord Mayor, Cllr Sioned-Mair Richards received a copy of the book from Sir Nathaniel’s great great nephew, Colonel Geoffrey Norton, who had funded the publication and research done by local historian Stephen Johnson, it’s author. 

Stephen’s book is based on Sir Nathaniel’s journals from the 1840’s and 1850’s that Colonel Norton had kindly donated to the City Archives in 2021. As well as famously citing the creation of Sheffield FC in 1857 with the words “I have established a Foot Ball club, to which most of young Sheffield come and kick”, the journals detail Sir Nathaniel’s life including his many unrequited loves. 

Colonel Norton said he had been unaware of the journals existence until a distant relative contacted him and said would he be interested in having them. With this fortunate offer we now have preserved for future generations of Sheffielders documents that not only detail such an interesting life, but also the creation of the world’s oldest football club still playing, Sheffield FC. 

As well as being a solicitor by trade and a sportsman by inclination, (also founding Sheffield Golf Club, which became Lindrick Golf Club and hosted the Ryder cup in 1957) Sir Nathaniel was a great military man and founded the Sheffield Artillery Volunteers for which he served as captain and colonel for nearly 40 years and was awarded his Knighthood in 1909. 

In 1860 Nathaniel rescued a man who had fallen through ice on the upper Crookes dam. An act for which he received the Royal Humane Society medal for displaying ‘sympathy and courage’ for a fellow human being. 

To try and standardise the different rules being played by early football teams Sir Nathaniel with his Sheffield FC co-founder William Prest, drafted up the Sheffield Rules. These were then formalised at a meeting of Sheffield FC in 1858 at the Adelphi Hotel, where The Crucible Theatre is now. It is widely recognised that these rules form the basis of the rules that are followed to this day by all players of the world’s favourite game. Football. So it can truly be said that Sheffield was the crucible in which the ‘Beautiful Game’ was forged. 

Richard Caborn, ex-minister of sport and Sheffield MP, said at the launch that the unique sporting heritage we claim for the city directly comes from the likes of Sir Nathaniel, Sheffielders who loved their sport and their city. We need to press on and celebrate this legacy that no other city can claim, and all get behind ‘Sheffield Home of Football’ as a movement which includes all the clubs in the city and the Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA, itself the oldest county FA in the world. 

The Lord Mayor thanked Colonel Norton and Stephen Johnson for their dedication to getting the life of Sir Nathaniel Creswick now recorded in this book ‘I have established a Foot Ball Club’. She also wanted to mark the support they had received from the late Chair of Sheffield Home of Football (SHOF), Cllr Anne Murphy. The event ended with a first for the Lord Mayor’s parlour, a kick-about between the Lord Mayor and  football legend Tony Currie using a classic leather football!

Just as Anne would have wanted.

Copies of the book can be ordered by emailing Colonel Norton at for £14.00, including post and packaging. Copies are also available in the Local Studies and Football Library at Sheffield Central Library. The journals are being scanned at the Sheffield City Archives, thanks to a grant from the J.G.Graves Trust, so more people can read about Sir Nathaniel Creswick’s amazing life.

A free Sheffield Home of Football Walking App and history of the sites of Sheffield’s football heritage can be downloaded for Apple or Android phones from