The smallest league in the world

Manuel Sanchez Gomez

London, November 10 (EFE).- “I ask John.” “I love Stuart.” “You chose Max.” These phrases, with the ball in hand, could be attributed to the playing field of any school in London, Manchester or Birmingham. In fact, changing names could also be Madrid, Barcelona or Seville. However, this ritual is celebrated once a year in the Isles of Scilly, in the south of the United Kingdom, and serves to form the smallest league in the world.

This competition consists of only two teams: Woolpack Wanderers and Garrison Gunners, who play each other 20 times for the league championship, in addition to playing the Super Cup, two cups, one home and away, and a match between adults and youth. And even a pre-season friendly match. The matches are always played at the same stadium, on St Mary’s Island, off the coast of Cornwall, and the players in each team change each season.

“To select the players for each team,” tournament organizer Anthony Gibson, known as “Gibo”, explains to EFE, “the two captains sit together, usually in a pub with a beer, and they have a list of players and ‘what position are they going to play?’ Each player plays. They toss a coin in the air and take turns to see which players they will choose.

William Lethbridge, who played in the league for seven years, adds: “It’s like in a schoolyard, where the captains are responsible for cleaning up and organizing the games.”

What the leaders are looking for is that during the long season – from October to March – there is equality and the league is not decided too quickly.

See also  Guatemalan fighter Chris Gutierrez falls to Pedro Munhoz in the UFC

This is not always easy, and in fact Woolpack Wanderers have won the last three titles, but the inequality is not always down to the quality of each other, but rather to typical life circumstances.

In the Isles of Scilly League there are no contracts, no club connections and no salaries. So, when a team striker is called up to work in another part of the country or abroad, he has to go. There are more unusual situations where the player, whose job is a police officer or a nurse, has to leave in the middle of the game due to an emergency.

On one occasion, a farmer was called because his cows had escaped and were blocking the road.

“Fortunately, the cow incident did not happen again,” Gibson jokes, also aware of the difficulty of organizing this competition, not only because of the setbacks of being made up of workers from the city, but also because of the growing number of workers. The small population of St. Mary’s.

This island, with a population of about 2,000, has been gradually losing population – 7% since 2011 – especially younger ones.

“We have a lot of boys who are 15 years old, and the oldest players who play are around 40. They usually stop playing at 50. There is always a fear that we will not have enough players for the next season, but at the moment we have These players.” “And I hope we have many more seasons ahead of us,” Gibo adds.

To break the monotony of playing the same teams twenty times, at the beginning of the season there is the Lioness Cup, where the Woolpack and Garrison team up against an amateur team called the Dynamo Cougs, known for having won the largest small cup. From the world.

See also  #Ukraine crisis | Wimbledon acknowledges talks with the UK government to prevent the disqualification of Russian tennis players

This small cup, just a centimeter high, resting on a wooden base, was born at the beginning of the century thanks to a player in metallurgy. After FIFA learned of the story, it became interested in the piece and added it to its museum in Zurich.

This was not the first time that the world’s eyes fell on the league, which was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the smallest league. In 2007, Adidas brought David Beckham, Michael Ballack, Patrick Vieira, Steven Gerrard, Anderson and Daniele De Rossi to film. advertisement.

“I remember it well, it was my second year on the island and I was not yet involved in the league like I am today. I played the last match against De Rossi and it was a surreal experience. It’s not all ‘the day you play with the world champion’,” Gibo recalls.

But Gibo’s best memory of that announcement came when information reached the press that Beckham was on the island, so the British media mobilized their resources with helicopters to chase the then Real Madrid player. This caused “Becks” to run out of there and left the production team with a few takes to record, but without the star.

They turned to Gibu.

“It was crazy,” he recalls, “I was David Beckham’s double for a day. I don’t look much alike, but what helped was that the pictures were taken from a helicopter (laughs). That was my biggest moment of fame.”

In addition, Vodafone used this tournament in 2019 to test FAR technology, instead of VAR, through which the fans themselves were the ones who decided whether the referee’s decision was correct or not.

See also  Azim Osobor, of Navarra, is named NCAA Player of the Season

The league season began on October 22 and continues until March 24, and at the present time everything is aimed at the Woolpack Wanderers team winning the fourth title in a row, after three consecutive victories.

Rivalry, though, is not one of the main reasons why this league mobilizes every year to meet in the pub to decide, as if they were schoolchildren, who will have the best player on the island.

“We’re all good friends,” says Lethbridge. “I don’t think there’s much competition, although you want to win when you play. After the game, there’s always a handshake and a few beers in the pub watching the Premier League.” .

“At the end of the season there is a meal together and a cup ceremony, with the Player of the Season award, the Golden Boot, etc. The players of each team have to have a pint as quickly as possible, and there are other games too, and I won’t go into too much.” Of the details (laughs).”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *