Sunday 22 October 2017

Football match at Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is to host its first official soccer match as part of the Football Association's 150th anniversary
Buckingham Palace is to host its first official soccer match as part of the Football Association's 150th anniversary

Buckingham Palace is to host its first ever official football match as part of The Football Association's 150th anniversary celebrations.

The Duke of Cambridge, president of The FA, helped arrange the game between t wo of England's oldest amateur clubs in the gardens of the famous landmark.

Civil Service FC and Polytechnic FC, both based in Chiswick, west London, are preparing to go head to head in the unique Southern Amateur League fixture at the palace on Monday October 7 .

The Queen gave her permission for the match and Wembley groundsman Tony Stones will work with the royal household gardeners to create a pitch in the 40 acre garden.

William will host the event and also present medals to 150 grassroots volunteers in recognition of their dedication to the sport. The match is being held in tribute to their commitment.

The recipients were chosen for their outstanding contribution to football including helping to develop the women's game, providing opportunities for disabled players and refereeing.

William praised the 400,000 volunteers every year who help run local matches.

The Duke said: "In our 150th year, it is hugely important for The FA to honour the efforts of the 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."

Civil Service FC is the sole surviving club from the 11 clubs who founded The FA in the Freemasons' Tavern, Great Queen Street in London in 1863 and later drafted the 13 original laws of association football. Polytechnic FC was formed in 1875.

The pitch, measuring 328ft (100m) by 197ft (60m), will be located on the main lawn and have to be angled obliquely to the Palace rather than parallel to accommodate its size.

Palace gardeners and the Wembley groundsman will work together to prepare and cut the grass and then mark out the pitch in the days before the match.

A Palace spokesman said: "Buckingham Palace is used to hosting large-scale events in the garden, but this promises to be a little bit different and a lot of fun. Let's hope for a goalfest."

Neil Ward, vice-president and former player-manager of Civil Service FC, said his players would be well behaved on the palace pitch, but the match would be a competitive game between local rivals.

"It's a fantastic opportunity for us. The lads will be proud to be able to play at Buckingham Palace. They're playing in a historic first," he said.

"We start the season this weekend so we're building up their training. They'll be ready. It'll be a fast-paced game. It's not a show game.

"What the Duke wanted was for it to be a competitive match. It's not a friendly."

Mr Ward said Polytechnic FC were the club's local rivals, adding: "We pride ourselves on being as well behaved as possible, but it's competitive."

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