The GFSN National League (often referred to as the GNL) is an amateur league competition for gay football clubs across the United Kingdom. The league is associated with the Gay Football Supporters Network (GFSN) - a football supporters group catering for the LGBT community. The league was formed in 2002 with four founder members, and has steadily grown to ten teams since its inception.
There is a strong feeling of community across the league, born out of the GFSN. Over a match-day weekend, it is likely that both teams will socialise before (and after) the match, which has led to close friendships, friendly rivalries, and even relationships forming. This community-ethos and friendliness of the league is an important factor in its success, although in recent times a very definite competitive edge has started to appear.
In the middle of the 1990s a number of gay football clubs were forming across the United Kingdom, primarily to offer LGBT people in their local region the opportunity to play football in a welcoming and friendly environment. As the teams grew in size, 5-a-side tournaments and 11-a-side friendly fixtures were organised between teams.
Eventually in 2002, a competitive league was formed, founded by four teams; Yorkshire Terriers F.C, Leicester Wildecats F.C, Leftfooters F.C. (based in London), and the now defunct Bristol Panthers F.C. The first GNL fixture kicked-off on Sunday 29th September 2002, with Leicester Wildecats defeating Yorkshire Terriers 5-1.
The Gay National League has no affiliation with the Football Association (FA), and is not linked to the National League System, although the GFSN itself does have a relationship with the FA in its attempts to eradicate discrimination and homophobia from football.
Format And RulesEdit
The GFSN National League does not require teams to "register" players in advance of a season/match. A team can field players of any sexuality or gender, making the league unique in that both woman and men take part together. Players do not have to be pre-registered before they play, unlike normal local amateur leagues.
The competition rules are exactly the same as normal 11-a-side FA rules, with one alteration to Law 3 - The Number of Players. Teams are permitted to make rolling substitutions, and players are permitted to be substituted back on to the field of play even if they have been earlier substituted off the pitch.
Inaugural 2002/2003 SeasonEdit
The season ended in exhilarating (and some say controversial) style with the Bristol Panthers becoming the first GNL Champions, after defeating Leftfooters FC 16-0. Bristol needed to win the match by 13 clear goals to grasp the championship, and rumors consumed the league that Bristol had fielded 'ringers' to ensure the result.
As the league does not register players this rumor was impossible to prove, and the Bristol teamsheet for the Leftfooters match was broadly similar to previous games in the season. However, there is now a strong sense amongst the competing teams that the fielding of "ringers" should be avoided, and all players must subscribe to the ethos of the league. In reality, it's almost impossible to regulate this philosophy and is reliant on the goodwill of the clubs.
|2002/2003||Bristol Panthers FC||Leicester Wildecats FC||Yorkshire Terriers FC|
|2003/2004||Yorkshire Terriers FC||Leicester Wildecats FC||Brighton Bandits FC|
|2004/2005||Bristol Panthers FC||Brighton Bandits FC||Leftfooters FC|
|2005/2006||Brighton Bandits FC||Village Manchester FC||Yorkshire Terriers FC|
|2006/2007||GFC Bournemouth||Yorkshire Terriers FC||Brighton Bandits FC|
|2007/2008||London Falcons FC||Leicester Wildecats FC||GFC Bournemouth|
Since formation, the league initially expanded slowly to include newly formed teams across the country. Brighton Bandits joined for the 2003/2004 season, and Village Manchester FC were accepted into the league in 2005/2006 - replacing the then-champions Bristol Panthers, who dropped out citing lack of players.
More recently, the popularity of gay football across the country has increased. Many new teams have formed, and three were accepted into the league for the 2006/2007 season: Birmingham Blaze FC, London Titans FC, and GFC Bournemouth, doubling the size of the original league. Two further clubs were accepted into the league for 2007/08 season: London Falcons FC and Nottingham Ballbois FC. In 2008/09, Village Manchester have withdrawn from the league and will be replaced by HotScots FC of Edinburgh.
It should be noted that the players in the league are amateurs, and do not receive any fees or subsidies for taking part. Teams only receive funds from local sponsors, fundraisers, or shirt sponsorship. With the increasing number of teams (meaning more travelling and associated costs), this is creating both a financial and time-consuming burden on players to attend all matches and events throughout a season. It is widely felt that if the rate of expansion continues, the league will have to change. One suggested idea is to split the league may into two regions (north/south) to minimise travelling and costs.
A short-term solution to this problem was to reduce the number of fixtures in a season, and the format of the 2006/2007 competition was altered making teams play each other in a Six Nations style format - either home or away.
Current Champions and 2007/2008 Summary Edit
London Falcons are the current league champions, having secured the title on the last day of the season with a 7-1 victory over Yorkshire Terriers. Falcons finished 3 points clear of Leicester Wildecats, who finished the season in strongly by recording six consecutive victories, narrowly beating GFC Bournemouth into second place on goal difference.
There were many surprises throughout the season, most notably the Falcons winning the title in their first year of competing in the league. The good form of Leicester was also surprising, as was the relatively unsuccessful seasons for Manchester & Brighton - who 2 years ago were title-challengers.
2007/08 League SeasonEdit
09 September 2007
London Falcons 4 - 1 London Titans
Leicester Wildecats 3 -0 Nottingham Ballbois
London Leftfooters 0 - 6 Village Manchester
16 September 2007
Birmingham Blaze 0 - 2 GFC Bournemouth
Yorkshire Terriers 3 - 2 Brighton Bandits
14 October 2007
Leicester Wildecats 2 - 3 Birmingham Blaze
London Titans 1 - 0 London Leftfooters
Nottingham Ballbois 1 - 2 London Falcons
GFC Bournemouth 4 - 0 Yorkshire Terriers
Brighton Bandits 3 - 0 Village Manchester 1
1 Game forfeited by the losing team. In accordance with GFSN rules, a 3-0 victory is awarded.
4 November 2007
Birmingham Blaze 4 - 1 London Titans
Village Manchester 0 - 1 London Falcons
Nottingam Ballbois P - P Brighton Bandits
Yorkshire Terriers 6 - 0 London Leftfooters
GFC Bournemouth 4 - 1 Leicester Wildecats
9 December 2007
Brighton Bandits P-P GFC Bournemouth
Village Manchester P-P Yorkshire Terriers
16 December 2007
London Falcons 0-1 Leicester Wildecats
London Titans 3-9 Nottingham Ballbois
London Leftfooters 0-5 Birmingham Blaze
6 January 2008
Village Manchester 5-3 GFC Bournemouth
London Titans 0-5 Yorkshire Terriers
Nottingham Ballbois 2-2 Birmingham Blaze
Leicester Wildecats 7-2 Brighton Bandits
London Leftfooters 0-15 London Falcons
27 January 2008
Bournemouth 2-0 London Titans
Yorkshire Terriers 2-1 Birmingham Blaze
Nottingham Ballbois 7-1 Leftfooters
Brighton Bandits 0-1 London Falcons
Village Manchester 2-5 Leicester Wildecats
10 February 2008
Village Manchester 0-0 Yorkshire Terriers
17 February 2008
Nottingham Ballbois 3-0 Brighton Bandits
2 March 2008
Nottingham Ballbois 3-0 Village Manchester1
Birmingham Blaze 1-2 London Falcons
Leicester Wildecats 2-1 Yorkshire Terriers
London Titans 1-2 Brighton Bandits
London Leftfooters 0-3 GFC Bournemouth1
1 Both games forfeited by the losing teams. In accordance with GFSN rules, a 3-0 victory is awarded.
6 April 2008
Birmingham Blaze 4-0 Village Manchester
London Falcons 3-0 GFC Bournemouth
London Titans P-P Leicester Wildecats
Yorkshire Terriers 3-1 Nottingham Ballbois
13 April 2008
London Titans 0-6 Leicester Wildecats
20 April 2008
Brighton Bandits 1-2 GFC Bournemouth
27 April 2008
Leicester Wildecats 13-0 London Leftfooters
London Falcons 7-1 Yorkshire Terriers
GFC Bournemouth 4-0 Nottingham Ballbois
Brighton Bandits 4-3 Birmingham Blaze
Village Manchester 5-1 London Titans
31 May 2008
Brighton Bandits 8-0 London Leftfooters
- Ian Collins of Yorkshire Terriers is credited with scoring the first ever goal in the GFSN National League.
- Leicester Wildecat's Wayne Carter is the current all-time record goal-scorer with 43 goals (including 2007/08 season)
- Two-times GFSN National League Champions Bristol Panthers F.C. withdrew from the league before the start of the 2005/06 season due to lack of players.
- GFC Bournemouth won the 2006/7 title and the 06/07 GNL cup in their first season in the competition.
- London Falcons FC won the 2007/8 title in their first season in the competition
- Chris Horne of Birmingham Blaze FC is credited as both the youngest player in the league at 17 years old, and the youngest goalscorer in the league (17yo, vs. Nottingham Ballbois FC, January 6th 2008).
- Gareth Miller of Leicester Wildecats is believed to be the oldest goalscorer in the league (56 years old, vs London Titans, November 5th 2006)
- Heather Buxton of Leicester Wildecats is the first female Manager in the league (2007-2008)
- No club has managed to retain the League title, although Bristol Panthers F.C. (now dis-banded) did win twice in three years and Leicester Wildecats have finished 2nd three times.
- Bournemouth GFC became the most successful side in a single season in 2006/2007 season winning the GFSN League, GN Cup, L.U.L and the Annual Leeds 5 a side tournament
Stonewall Football Club, a gay team based in London, do not compete in the Gay National League, preferring to take part in the Middlesex county league - although they do have second and third teams that take part in friendlies and other tournaments. Village Manchester FC also compete in their local FA league.
There are also several teams around the UK & Ireland: Mersey Marauders, (Liverpool); Dublin Devils (Dublin); Romans AFC (London) Cardiff Dragons (Cardiff - also known as Ddraig Caerdydd) and Newcastle Panthers (Newcastle-upon-Tyne & Gateshead). All new clubs are eligible to apply for entry to the league, although each are at varying stages of development and entry into the league is decided at a meeting of managers from the current clubs.
The only other gay football league in Britain is The London Unity League (otherwise known as the L.U.L.) which caters for less-competitive players representing GFSN clubs in the London area (generally), as well as sides not yet accepted into the GFSN League, such as Romans FC.
In the 2006/2007 season Bournmouth GFC won the L.U.L completing a triple for the year, having also won the GFSN league, GN Cup and LUL
In the 2007/2008 season, London Falcons won the L.U.L..
- Gay Football Supporters Network homepage
- GFSN League homepage
- Nottingham Ballbois homepage
- Village Manchester homepage
- Yorkshire Terriers homepage
- Leicester Wildecats homepage
- Stonewall Football Club homepage
- Dublin Devils Football Club homepage
- Mersey Marauders homepage
- HotScots FC homepage
- London Falcons homepage
- Leftfooters FC homepage
- Birmingham Blaze homepage
- Brighton Bandits homepage
- London Titans homepage
- GFC Bournemouth homepage
- Edinburgh Hotscots F.C.