As a result of the all-inclusive ethos instilled within the Woolwich and Eltham Sunday Football League (WESFA), one of the league’s teams had the opportunity to take on a side comprising of the league’s referees last month.
Taking place on Sunday 11 August, the WESFA Sportsmanship Trophy – sponsored by A&H International – saw AFC Sporting Greenwich take on the WESFA Referees, after the club was recognised as the best for sportsmanship throughout the 2018/19 season.
Now in its seventh season, the WESFA Sportsmanship Trophy commenced at the start of the 2013/14 campaign and, following an enjoyable inaugural event, became an annual contest thereafter.
The WESFA Sportsmanship Trophy also became incorporated into the annual Pat Tansley Memorial Cup event, which added to a day of celebration and fundraising for the Greenwich & Bexley Hospice.
This season’s fixture saw the WESFA Referees field a strong side, which included former semi-professional player and Turks & Caicos international. In an end-to-end 90 minutes, nothing could separate the two sides, with the score level at 3-3.
Falling to a penalty shootout, it was AFC Sporting Greenwich that would emerge victorious, thanks to some heroic goalkeeping from the WESFA stopper, Sam Riley.
The result means that only one Sportsmanship Trophy clash has been won by the referees’ side in the game’s history.
As an added mark of goodwill, all players’ match feed and spectator donations were also donated to the hospice.
“The day was a tasty affair with high-flying tackles and petulance that you might not expect from a group of officials,” joked Sam McIntyre of AFC Sporting Greenwich. “The day was ours to seize”.
“All of these memories, moments and incredible experiences would not have been possible without the help and support of the FA Charter Standard scheme, which helped us maintain the club in a healthy way and ensured that we could continue our project.”
Dave Hooker, of the WESFA Referees side, added: “Referees are, generally, all frustrated footballers. We either used to play or wanted to play. Having the opportunity to play a sporting team (where we’re not going to get thrashed) is a great sporting occasion and a chance to enjoy the game from the other side.”
The fixture is a fantastic example of a London FA-affiliated league putting strong value on The FA’s Respect campaign. From its foundation in 2006, the WESFA became an accredited FA Respect League quickly and is currently in the process of achieving FA Charter Standard status.
For more information about the WESFA, please visit www.wesfa.co