Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which operates Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express, is supporting a new amateur football league which will see railway teams from across the network playing for the inaugural title.
The Railway Friendly Football League has been created with the support of Hertfordshire Football Association after Peterborough-based Great Northern train driver Michael D’Santos, and Test and Commissioning driver Mark Webb, who is based at Three Bridges depot, approached the local governing body for help and advice in getting a new league up and running.
Michael, who is also coaching the Great Northern squad, said, “This is a tradition that our depot teams used to really enjoy taking part in so I was really keen to see if we could bring it back. The Hertfordshire FA has been a fantastic support in helping to set up the league and fixtures.
“We’re excited to see how we can build on the league in the future and involve more people, including walking football for those with reduced mobility, 5-a-side mixed charity tournaments and gender-balanced teams,” he added.
The new league is made up of train crews and staff across the rail network, with three GTR teams and one from South Western Railway. The four teams are: Great Northern Traincrews Football Club, Thameslink and Southern, Brighton Train Crew and South Western Railway Train Crew Football Club, with each team playing one fixture a month.
The league’s first season kicked off at the beginning of March and will run until the last fixture in November, when the victorious team will raise the winner’s trophy after the final whistle at the game between Great Northern TCFC and South Western Railway TCFC.
Hertfordshire FA Football Development Officer Kieran Fox said, “We were delighted to hear that rail staff wanted to organise regular competitive football matches and were happy to support them in getting everything set up.
“We know there are many adults who want to be involved in football but struggle to find a team or fit games around work commitments, so combining the two like this a great way to get them playing again. It’s easier than you’d think to set up and run a league, particularly with the online services we can offer, so we’d encourage anyone considering something similar to get in touch,” said Fox.
The first game of the season took place between Brighton Train Crew and South Western Railway TCFC, with an entertaining encounter that finished 6-6 at the Falmer Stadium in Brighton. The second league game saw Great Northern face Thameslink and Southern, finishing 3-2 and raising funds in support of a Great Northern trainee driver, who recently had to retire for medical reasons.
This latest boost to this fundraising comes after a group of train drivers undertook two gruelling weighted marches in the Brecon Beacons, the home of UK Special Forces. In sub-zero temperatures the team covered over 30 miles carrying 35Ilbs plus bags.
Steve White, Chief Operating Officer at GTR, said, “I am pleased to see this new league created and to see railway colleagues enjoying healthy competition. May the best team win!”
Jacqui Dey, Operations Director for South Western Railway, said: “I’m delighted that our drivers and guards are working together as a team on the football pitch. They clearly have a lot of pride in representing SWR which is great to see. We wish them all the best for the season ahead!”
Notes to editors:
A full list of league fixtures and standings can be found here: http://fulltime-league.thefa.com/ListPublicFixture.do?divisionseason=219188440&league=926873014
For more information on the Great Northern drivers’ fundraising efforts, go to: https://www.gofundme.com/fan-dance-2019-gn-train-crew?sharetype=teams&member=1618280&pc=ot_co_dashboard_a&rcid=a40ce4b9237344d8b5f0582945bde0c1
Images by James Richardson - James Richardson Photography.
Govia Thameslink Railway
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:
- Thameslink – cross-London services between Bedford/Peterborough/Cambridge and Brighton/Horsham/Littlehampton/East Grinstead, and between Luton/St Albans and Sutton/Wimbledon/Rainham; plus services between London and Sevenoaks
- Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
- Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
- Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria