By Ben East
What’s your favourite football story? Where do you watch – or play – the beautiful game?
These are some of the intriguing questions an exciting new public art project for Cambridge is asking the world to answer, creating a truly global window on how football is experienced and has developed to become the planet’s favourite sport – all from one small part of our city.
Cambridge Rules 1848 has launched a website at http://www.cambridgerules1848.com, on which people can leave their cherished stories of what makes the sport so special to them. Already, football fans from Buenos Aires to Cambridge itself have begun leaving images of their favourite ground, shirt – or even tattoo. The stories don’t necessarily have to be connected with a team – the intention is simply to gather together the world’s first archive of what football means to the masses.
The Cambridge Rules 1848 website is a key part of a new public art commission by Cambridge City Council and supported by the National Football Museum and, shortly, an international partner. It commemorates the seismic moment at which football as we know it had formalised laws. First nailed to the trees surrounding Parker’s Piece in Cambridge by a group of the city’s University students in 1848, from there, the laws of the game spread to encompass every corner of the world. The commission signifies the importance of Parker’s Piece as the birth place of football not only within the City of Cambridge, but both nationally and internationally.
Carina O’Reilly, Executive Councillor for City Centre and Public Places, said: “It’s great for the council to be part of this celebration of football, and that ordinary people will be central to the project. It’s a people’s artwork to celebrate the people’s game.”
Artists Alan Ward and Neville Gabie will also mark this moment in physical form on Parker’s Piece with a large stone cut into nine, engraved with the original 1848 laws of the game in different languages. The four cornerstones, installed this autumn, will stay on Parker’s Piece, the others travel to five football-loving countries across the planet in a cultural exchange.
As the project continues, there will also be the chance for fans to upload their favourite football songs or chants, memorabilia and images of their local pitches. And in 2017, the football stories, images and sounds gathered from around the world will be displayed on Parker’s Piece – celebrating Cambridge’s role in the story of football – and will also be gathered together in a book.
To upload your story or enjoy the early submissions go to www.cambridgerules1848.com