Thursday 16th December 2021 ko 16:00
London Underground League Division Two
WATERLOO & CITY 5 (Mohamed 37 59 69 James 43 Jarvis 70)
Att 9 at Pitch 1, Market Road Pitches, Caledonian Road, London
There is something iconic about the London Underground. Whether its Harry Beck’s topological tube map, or Frank Pick’s Charles Holden designed Art Deco stations on the Piccadilly Line there is so much that is quintessentially English. Perhaps that’s why the London Underground League has developed something of a cult following amongst groundhoppers.
Let’s start with a few ground rules. The league is FA affiliated and the teams are formed from the Underground Lines, together with the Overground Line (s), Tube Lines (Maintenance) and BTP (British Transport Police) and all players must work for TFL (Transport for London) and the referees do carry out ID Badge checks! Players, as long as they’re qualified can play for any team, otherwise a team like Waterloo and City would struggle to raise a side- the line consists of just two stations, Waterloo and Bank and both of those stations are interchanges with other lines!
Teams do have a rather charming habit of wearing kits based on either the moquette pattern (the seating cloth on the trains) or the colour of the line on the tube map. See if you can find the Piccadilly Line’s kit online- it’s quite something!
There are two divisions of six teams each and games all take place at Market Road Pitches 1 and 2 near Caledonian Road Tube Station on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Kickoffs are at 4pm to fit in with shift patterns. Unfortunately the league no longer is on Full-Time but is very active on Twitter; I’ve also included a fixture matrix at the end of the photos.
This is a league that captures the imagination. Even my workmates are well used to my jaunts to watch obscure football matches but a football league for the London Underground gets people thinking, and the questions soon followed,
“Do individual stations play?”
“Which team are you following?” and my favourite,
“Do they play underground?”
Well I do have an idea for the third question- The Westway Stadium runs underneath the A40 in Shepherd’s Bush which is about as close to a game being underground as you’re likely to get. Any chance gents?
As for which team to follow well that’s the great beauty of the league. Just everyone has a personal connection with the tube, or you could like the name of a station, or just pick a line’s colour. As for me, well I lived closed to Manor House Station while at University and took the Piccadilly Line from Hillingdon to Caledonian Road for this game, so my colours are well and truly nailed to the mast!
There are all kinds of memories for me here. This is just south of where I spent my student days, in fact I’m a little surprised I never played here. I trained with University of North London FC at Whittington Park, on the Holloway Road, and no I haven’t watched a game there- yet!
Then there’s the Clock Tower the other side of Market Road once the centre piece of the former Metropolitan Cattle Market which opened in 1855 as London’s first dedicated live meat market. And if you walk a little further down Caledonian Road, there’s the site of the former Pentonville Prison, that once housed the likes of Oscar Wilde, Dr Crippen, Pete Doherty, and with a more footballing theme George Best, Robin Friday and Nile Ranger.
I suspect Market Road Pitches wouldn’t be that interesting if it wasn’t for the LU League. Put simply it’s two caged 3G pitches with a changing room block in the middle, albeit with the claim to fame that it was the first artificial pitch in the country. You could quite easily visit here for a game in the Islington Midweek League. But the LU League is the draw, and above all else it it’s fun too! The players and fans all seem to know each other and there was a convivial atmosphere as Waterloo & City cruised to an easy victory.
I’m sure Robyn and I will see more competitive and more skillful games than this, but will seldom enjoy ourselves more. And if watching and playing amateur is about anything at all, surely its about enjoyment.