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Sheffield 160: Chris Dolby

12:37 PMAleks Vee

by Aleks V |

2017 marks the 160th anniversary of the world's first football club, Sheffield FC. Sheffield 160 is a bi-weekly series that goes behind the scenes of the historic club through interviews with players and staff.

This week, Sheffield FC Club & Community Manager, Chris Dolby, talks about his work at Sheffield FC, his football career, and what it was like to meet Pelé.

Photos courtesy Sheffield FC.

What are your earliest football memories?
My mum taking me to a local town hall to play football. What we didn't know at the time was the lads were 17-18 years old, and I was six! They still let me play. That was the community spirit back in the late 70's!

How did you first get involved with Sheffield FC?
I signed as a player when I was 32 years old . This was to be my last club as a player. I played for two seasons, then I become player-manager.

You've worn many hats at the club over the years - player, First Team Manager, Club & Community Manager. What has been the most challenging role?
The biggest challenge was developing the [Sheffield FC] Foundation into a global business. Football has become the greatest game in this world.

The core values of the Foundation are Integrity, Respect and Community, which gives our club the foundation to bring people together through football education, inclusion, peace, and friendship.

What are your main duties as Club & Community Manager?
My main duties are to ensure the brand of the World's First Football Club continues to give. Our unique status allows our club the platform to engage people from across the globe. Football is for ALL, regardless of age, race, or religion.

Are there any humorous stories you can share from your years at Sheffield?
During the 150th celebrations, we played Inter Milan in front of 23,000 fans at Bramall Lane. The great Pelé came onto the pitch before the game to meet all the players. As he approached me, I could feel the nerves kick in. Whilst shaking my hand, the great man asked me where I was from. Looking back now, I know he was asking what nationality I was, but as the nerves had kicked in, I responded with Rotherham! He looked at me a little confused.

You were the first Asian footballer of note to play in the UK. What impact do you think you've had as a player, and as a manager at Sheffield when the club traveled to India?
Becoming Britain's first Asian professional footballer was a real honour. I never managed to play at the highest level, so the impact was not as great as it could possibly have been.

I still believe we will eventually see a British Asian player playing in the Premiership, which will change the outlook on the British Asian football community. The trip to India was a real eye opener for all of the team that traveled to India. The passion for the game was incredible from the Indian players and the supporters.

Tell me about a person without whom your career would not be as it is today.
My parents gave me the opportunity to play football from a young age, so I have to say my mum and dad.

What is one thing most people would be surprised to know about your career?
I have played in the Football League, Conference, Conference North, Northern Premier League 2, Norther Premier League 1 and North East Counties. So every league up to the Football League!

Chris Dolby is Club & Community Manager at the World's First Football Club, Sheffield FC.
Read more on Sheffield 160 here.
Join the conversation on Twitter using hashtag #Sheffield160.

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