Two local teams play at Buckingham Palace today to mark 150 years of the FA
As part of its 150th anniversary celebrations, The FA is commemorating the game’s unsung heroes by hosting a unique football match at Buckingham Palace between two of England's oldest clubs.
One of the teams taking part is, Chiswick based Polytechnic FC, and manager Geoff Brown says the feel-good factor around the club is palpable.
“Everybody is thrilled and boasting about it to their mates – it’s amazing,” he said.
“The organisation up to the day has been absolutely manic. We’ve pretty much dotted all the I’s and crossed the T’s – so it’s only now we’re getting the chance to soak it all up and get ready for the experience.
“It’s only been this week that I was able to confirm that everybody in the first and second squads will be able to get to the game as well.
“So there’s been a little bit of trepidation, with people not really knowing if they’re going to be involved or not – but since Thursday everybody is really buzzing about it now.
“They all know they are going to be part of something very special.”
Polytechnic's opponents on the day will be the Civil Service FC - the only surviving member of the original 11 sides that joined The FA at its formation meeting on 26 October 1893.
And although only 12 years its junior, Polytechnic has an equally rich history.
Founded in 1875, they were formally known as Hanover United FC – and were the first club to lay claim to having the word ‘United’ in their name.
After being selected to take part in the game, the Civil Service suggested Polytechnic would be a fitting opponent – and since their recent promotion to the Southern Amateur League Division 1 it was possible for the game to be made into a competitive affair with three points at stake - and the Polytechnic’s manager says it will be an entertaining encounter.
“We first played 120 years ago – so there’s a fair bit of history between the two of us,” he said.
“We literally get off at the same stop in Chiswick – they’re on one side of the tracks and we’re on the other - so it’s a good local rivalry as well.
“My first game for Poly was actually against Civil Service. I remember it was on a terrible pitch and we got changed in a little tin shed. So it’s safe to say my next game against them will be in slightly different surroundings.
“It’s a friendly rivalry though. Everybody in this league is amateur and everyone generally gets on.
“They’re all good lads and there’s no real intense rivalries – we haven’t played them for a couple of years though because we’ve been in different divisions, so that might add a little extra incentive to the boys.”
The match forms of the centerpiece of The FA’s Grassroots Heroes Day, in which 150 of game’s unsung stars are acknowledged at the special event at Buckingham Palace – hosted by FA President, The Duke of Cambridge.
And Geoff is insistent that the day is about these people, not the players.
“That’s the thing you can’t forget,” he added. “It might have been overshadowed slightly because of the football match because obviously it’s captured the imagination of the press and the media, but the day is not about us. It’s about the grassroots heroes being honoured.
“It’s a celebration of grassroots football. We’re all grassroots amateurs in the first place as well so it’s very good that the Palace and The FA are doing something like this and honouring these people, because without them we wouldn’t be able to play.”
October 7, 2013