Chiswick Football Clubs To Play At Buckingham Palace
Polytechnic FC and Civil Service chosen for first ever match at royal residence
Two Chiswick amateur football clubs will go head to head in Buckingham Palace's first ever official football match.
Civil Service FC and Polytechnic FC, two of the country's oldest amateur clubs, will play an "away" match like no other when they line up within the grounds of the royal residence next month.
The 40-acre grounds are more used to hosting garden parties and receptions for celebrity and international guests than sporting events.
The match, part of the Southern Amateur League fixtures, will take place on October 7th and has been set up by the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, who is President of the FA, as part of the Football Association's 150th anniversary celebrations.
Neil Ward, Chairman of Civil Service FC's 150th anniversary committee, appeared on BBC Five Live this morning (September 3) alongside Polytechnic FC's Chairman Barry Madigan.
Ward said: "They're bringing the head groundsman from Wembley, he's coming to set up the pitch exactly the same as Wembley. They're bringing in free-standing goalposts because they can't put holes in the lawn, and they're going to lay it on a diagonal because it has to be 100m by 60m.
"The Duke is bringing all his guests from his grassroots reception to watch the game, so, plus if we're allowed any spectators, then I think we'll have the biggest turnout for a sourthern amateur league match."
He added: "99% of footballers are amateurs, so it's all about grassroots football. And the Duke, as I understand it, wanted a competitive game...and it's 120 years ago this year that we first played Polytehnic, they're our local rivals."
Polytechnic FC have just had their best ever season and were the most successful team in the Southern Amateur League, winning six trophies. They are currently recruiting for players of all abilities to join one of their twelve teams, particularly the 1's and 2's squads.
Civil Service, founded in 1863, are the sole surviving club from the eleven which founded the FA, while Polytechnic was founded in 1875.
In their 150-year history, Civil Service FC have beaten the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid, who they played in the early 20th century.Ward said: "It's a big ask for the lads, but if we can beat Real Madrid, then we're going to try our hardest to beat Poly as well on the day."
At the match, Prince William will present 150 volunteers with medals to reward them for their work organising local football.
The Duke said: "In our 150th year, it is hugely important for the FA to honour the efforts of many thousands of volunteers who week in, week out, help to provide the opportunity for millions more people to enjoy football at grassroots level.
"Inviting 150 of these volunteers to Buckingham Palace provides a fitting way for the FA to pay tribute and give thanks."
Greg Dyke, chairman of the FA, said: "These volunteers are the heartbeat of football. Without them, the game simply wouldn't function at a grassroots level and it is only right that the FA honours their tireless and selfless work.
"We are delighted that, in his role as president of the FA, HRH The Duke of Cambridge has given his support to this initiative - even going as far as arranging for the first-ever game of football to be played at Buckingham Palace in honour of our grassroots heroes."
Nearly half a million people act as volunteers at grassroots level around England every year.
September 3, 2013