Vienna, 20 February 2020
Football’s coming home to Vienna
On the day before Austria’s stand-out pre-EURO 2020 friendly against England, First Vienna Football Club 1894, the oldest club in Austria (founded in 1894), will play host to Sheffield FC, the oldest football club in the world (founded in 1857), at the Hohe Warte Stadium.
This historic meeting between the two cult clubs was announced at a joint press conference held at ‘Pfarrwirt’ – the restaurant in which First Vienna was founded – in Vienna’s Döbling district. The match at the Hohe Warte Stadium will kick off at 19:00 on 1 June 2020 and will be shown live on the ORF Sport+ channel in Austria.
The fixture will serve as a warm-up for the pre-Euro 2020 friendly between Austria and England (2 June, 20:45). For First Vienna, the “Football’s Coming Home to Vienna” initiative is all about honouring its English roots. As part of the initiative, the website of the Austrian fourth-tier club will feature English-language articles in 2020. Tickets for the game against the world’s oldest club are available at www.1894.at/tickets.
A meeting of tradition and history: a combined 287 years of football history and heritage will meet on 1 June at the Hohe Warte. The partnership between the clubs is one of the oldest footballing friendships in the world, if not the oldest. The First Vienna Football Club was founded on 22 August 1894 at the ‘Pfarrwirt’ restaurant, while Sheffield FC was founded on 28 October 1857 – the date which has come to be regarded as the birth of football.
That makes Sheffield the home and birthplace of football, and Sheffield FC the mother of all football clubs.
Without Sheffield, there’d be no football. “We’re very proud the oldest football club in the world is honouring us,” said First Vienna Vice-President Kurt Svoboda. Richard Tims, Chairman of Sheffield FC added: “We want to continue flying the flag for football in the spirit of our founding fathers and to keep up their pioneering legacy.”
Sheffield FC’s founders were the lawyer Nathaniel Creswick and the wine merchant William Prest. Several fundamental football rules were established in Sheffield, including the corner-kick, the free-kick and even the crossbar. In 1860, the first football match was played in Sheffield, and the club Sheffield FC now plays in the seventh tier of the English game.
Incidentally, England was also involved in the first international match in history when they faced Scotland in 1872. That is why England is considered the motherland of modern football.
“First Vienna was founded by Englishmen, too”, explained Svoboda. In fact, it was British landscape gardeners tending to the gardens of Baron Nathaniel Mayer Anselm Rothschild on the Hohe Warte who paved the way for the founding of First Vienna FC over 125 years ago. William Beale, one of the two founding members, was behind the club’s blue and yellow emblem.
The football in its memorable Triskelion design was inspired by the coat of arms of Beale’s original home, the Isle of Man, a former pirate island located in the Irish Sea. The second founding member was a fellow gardener named James Black.
For First Vienna, playing a friendly against Sheffield FC is all about honouring its English roots. It is the only football club in Austria that has had an English-language name for over a century.
The club is paying tribute to this in several ways, one of which is the immediate launch of an English website https://www.firstviennafc.at/en. “With the “Football’s Coming Home to Vienna” initiative, we want to make a statement and remind ourselves where First Vienna and Austrian football come from.
The world and football are undergoing rapid change – and First Vienna must move with the times too. But on this evening, we have made the conscious decision to commemorate the good old days and uphold tradition,” Svoboda said.
“First Vienna are a very special club,” said Richard Tims. Tims is not only the chairman of Sheffield FC, but the founder of the “Club of Pioneers” too.
The Club of Pioneers is a worldwide network of the oldest continuing football clubs from each country. The organisation currently has 25 members from all over the world, extending from Europe all the way to India, Chile, Japan and South Africa. Members include FC Genoa (Italy’s oldest football club), St. Gallen (founded in Switzerland in 1879), Royal Antwerp (from Belgium) and even amateur clubs such as Berliner FC Germania 1888. Every club, whether professional or amateur, has its own story.
Tims travelled to Vienna last December to pay a visit to the oldest football club in the country and presented First Vienna with a certificate confirming its place in the Club of Pioneers. The document states: “According to today’s historical evidence, may it be known that the world’s first football club, Sheffield FC, recognises First Vienna FC 1894 as Austria’s oldest existing Football Club.”
The historic award, a kind of Order of Merit, praises First Vienna’s special contribution to football. It highlights the fact that First Vienna has been hosting and promoting football and its values in every possible way for more than a century. In professional football, but also in amateur football at grassroots level – the heart of football and the true soul of the beautiful game.
In the run-up to the match on 1 June, further joint initiatives are planned between the two clubs. They include a visit by a Vienna delegation to Great Britain, during which the travelling contingent will visit Sheffield and the Isle of Man. Additionally, a return fixture in Sheffield has been pencilled in for the spring of 2021.
Tickets for the friendly fixture against Sheffield FC can be found at: www.1894.at/tickets. In keeping with the 125th anniversary, the tickets will cost €12.50. Discounted tickets will cost €8, while children and youths up to the age of 15 go free. Free seating.
The pictures are free of charge.
Photos of the press conference
Source: Vienna / Christian Hofer, www.fotobyhofer.at
Pictures of Hohe Warte:
Source: Vienna / Stephan Doleschal
First Vienna FC 1894
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