Rainbow Coloured Wembley Hosts Its First Ever Non-League Fixture
December 4, 2018
It was a big weekend in the sporting world, Fury vs Wilder gave us controversy, Arsenal and Tottenham gave us one of the most exciting North London Derbies in recent years and the late drama in the Merseyside Derby almost gave Jurgen Klopp a heart attack and a touchline ban.
But preceding all of this headline-dominating chaos was a sporting event that was big for its own reasons, and certainly more important in regards to sport as a means of social change and inclusion.
Stonewall FC, the world’s most successful LGBT+ football team, usually play their home ties at Barn Elms Playing Fields, London, but thanks to their newly formed partnership with the FA, their Middlesex County League Division One fixture against Wilberforce Wanderers AFC came at a slightly more distinguished venue – Wembley.
This was the first ever non-league fixture to be played at Wembley, and the landmark occasion took place beneath a rainbow-lit arch, setting the theme for the Premier League fixtures of the weekend, as players across the country sported rainbow-laces and armbands in support of the LGBT community.
Stonewall, who were founded in 1991, play in the 12th tier of English football and have championed equality within football ever since. They aim to provide an environment in which anyone can play football, regardless of age, race, gender, religion or sexuality.
The impact that the club has had in this country is phenomenal, and they were a driving force behind the Rainbow Laces campaign, which was started in 2013 and is now held annually in an attempt to help raise awareness of LGBT+ issues and allow for people to show their support for equality and inclusivity.
Stonewall came from a goal down to win 3-1 on the night, aided by Wilberforce missing a pen at 1-0. Nasar Nakhali took the credit when a penalty-box scramble ended up in the back of the Wilberforce net on the half-hour mark, and Stonewall’s number 7 seized the moment by celebrating in a Ronaldo-esque fashion.
It wasn’t until the 80th minute that Stonewall took the lead however, when Mike Sholly emphatically buried a volley from just inside the area. The technique on his shot would have been worthy of winning any football game, let alone a landmark fixture at the national stadium. New-boy Olli Rabie rounded off the scoring in injury time with a cool finish after going through on goal.
Despite only a tiny percentage of Wembley’s 90,000 seats being filled, both sets of fans were still in full voice throughout the game, and the event had a particularly feel-good atmosphere surrounding it.
The win moves Stonewall up to third in the league, as they continue their impressive run of form, losing just once all season. However the significance of this game was far greater than just the three points, and the effects of the match will hopefully be felt by more than just those who were involved on the night, as Stonewall FC’s message of acceptance was preached in one of the world’s most iconic stadiums.
Author: Dan Grimes
Dan is a Sports Journalism student and Spurs fan in the final year of his degree at the University of East London. He has a particular interest in writing about football and futsal and has produced content for a variety of sites and blogs. He also plays in goal for his University's futsal team.