The newly formed Yorkshire Independent Football Association played their first game today, hosting Ellan Vannin (Isle of Man) at Hemsworth Miners' Welfare's ground in Fitzwilliam.
Yorkshire IFA (nicknamed the Vikings) have only recently been accepted into the membership of CONIFA (Confederation of Independent Football Associations) - an organisation established to provide some international identity and structure for stateless football teams. The media interest has been high, and there were half a dozen film crews in attendance along with the 5 to 600 spectators. So new is the idea that the players, drawn mainly from the local non-league scene, had only had one training session prior to today's game. Ellann Vannin meanwhile, are ranked fourth in the CONIFA world.
The experience of the Manx team was evident in that they even had a mascot, a Manx cat, which took part in the pre-match line up (extra). Unfortunately the inaugral outing for the Yorkshire anthem (On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at having been selected) was scuppered by a dodgy PA.
Yorkshire started brightly in their blue kits, and won an early penalty, which was saved. Ellan Vannin grew into the match and tested Ed Hall (Bradford Park Avenue) in the Yorkshire goal. Hall made a number of important saves during the match, but couldn't stop the visitors taking the lead shortly after half-time. Yorkshire were soon level though, a nice finish from Penistone Church's Jordan Coduri after being put through by his captain Paddy McGuire (Thackley). Both sides had chances to win the game, but an entertaining match ended 1-1.
I'm sure the fledgling Yorkshire IFA will be delighted at the interest this first match has garnered, and the positive showing from the team. When they start taking on the likes of Tibet and Panjab hopefully some of the young fans that think football support is defined by antagonism towards the opponents, of whom a few were evident today, will start to appreciate CONIFA is a different sort of football world.
For the slightly condescending Guardian match report, see here and for a slightly more knowing regional news item and film, here.