December 13 – Age is just a number but for a football club it can also mark a status that no-one else can achieve.
First Vienna FC 1894, more commonly known as plain old Vienna, is currently nearing the end of the celebrations of its 125th year of play. It is the oldest club in Austria.
Formed in the early 1890s by English and Austrian gardeners working on the Rothschilds estates, they were granted use of a field by the landowners to prevent further damage to the flower gardens.
This week the venerable Viennese were visited by another storied team that currently plies its trades at the back of some allotments (public land rented for growing vegetables and flowers) in Sheffield.
Richard Tims (pictured) is chairman of Sheffield FC, the oldest club in the world that was formed in 1857, and was in Vienna to pay his respects to Austria’s eldest. After all, it is Christmas and a special time to visit old folk.
Both Vienna and Sheffield FC have seen better times on the field but their lights have not necessarily been entirely dimmed by age.
Vienna play in Austria’s third tier Wiener Stadtliga, while Sheffield FC play in the Northern Premier League (level 8 of the English pyramid). Both are pushing for promotion.
They are also both members of the Club of Pioneers, a global network of the verifiable oldest clubs in the world’s national federations and which was founded by Sheffield FC with the aim of promoting their histories, and the amateur and grassroots of the game. Other members include Scotland’s Queens Park, FC St Gallen from Switzerland and the ominously named Savages FC from South Africa.
But never mind their current playing levels, age bestows status and true to their roots, there is clearly life in these old dogs yet, though some distance away from the metaphorical allotments and flower beds of governing body vision for growing the global club game.
Or perhaps not? How about a spot for one of the Club of Pioneers teams at the expanded Club World Cup and a return to the top table of the world game they were so instrumental in creating? Come on FIFA, it is the season for giving.
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org