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Birthplace of football sculpture to be unveiled

News release from 04/05/2018

AN EAGERLY-awaited sculpture marking Cambridge as the birthplace of the modern game of football will be unveiled on Saturday 12 May.

“Cambridge Rules 1848” is a public art commission from Cambridge City Council. It celebrates how a simple set of rules written by university students, for a game of football played on Parker’s Piece in Cambridge 170 years ago, has gone on to shape the development of the modern sport as a grown into a worldwide phenomenon embraced by diverse cultures across the globe.

It is inscribed with the original Cambridge Rules in many different languages and while four large etched stone columns will be installed in Cambridge, a further five will travel to Brazil, Kenya, China, India and Egypt as part of a cultural exchange.

The columns will be unveiled by Cllr Anna Smith, Executive Councillor for Streets and Open Spaces, at noon on the corner of Parker’s Piece by Parkside and Mill Road.

The unveiling is part of a day of celebrations on Parker’s Piece which will also include two exhibition ‘town vs gown’ football matches, in association with Cambridge United Football Club.

These will feature women’s teams from Cambridge United and the University of Cambridge and a men’s match between a Cambridgeshire FA Select XI and the University of Cambridge.

There will also be a commemorative newspaper telling the story of the commission and some large scale photography documenting football from around the world.

This will be on Parker’s Piece for one day only and is being supported by Cambridge Rules 1848’s Global Partners Street Child United and Shanghai Greenland Shenhua Football Club.

Cllr Smith said: “I am delighted that we are celebrating this historic anniversary with a piece of art on Parker’s Piece, which has such a close connection with the Cambridge Rules.

“It is also very fitting that the art work represents the international significance of this anniversary and the status of Cambridge as a proudly multicultural and international city. 

“This project has been the result of extensive public consultation and I would like to thank fellow councillors, past and present, who have played a part in helping to shape this project.”

Artists Alan Ward and Neville Gabie were commissioned in 2014 to create the sculpture and to develop an online archive of stories from football fans at to give a unique insight into what football means to people and how it has become the world’s favourite sport.

“Through this commission, we’ve come across everyone from Porto fans in a Portuguese quarry and futsal players based in a Brazilian favela, to Galatasaray fans in a Cambridge school. All of them represent what this fabulous commission has been about – celebrating Cambridge’s crucial role in the global spread of the game”, said artist Neville Gabie.

“The sculptural piece will be a permanent reminder of the importance of Parker’s Piece to football’s story – but we’re also really pleased that people around the world will also be able to understand just how important Cambridge is to the game they love”, said artist Alan Ward.

For a full schedule of the day’s events and to contribute your story to the Cambridge Rules 1848 project go to:  

The public artwork in Cambridge, along with the design concept, local community website and the website about the development of the Cambridge Rules project, has been funded by the council using £115,000 of S106 funding from developers for public art projects in the city.

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