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Any Given Sunday. Any Blessed Derby

A journey into the strangest football rivalry of the world: the Isles of Scilly derby

Barcelona-Real Madrid, Partizan-Crvena Zvezda, Boca Juniors-River Plate, Celtic-Rangers, AC Milan-Inter. Undoubtedly these are the biggest derbies in the football world. Just like the fierce rivalry between Garrison Gunners and Woolpack Wanderers, even if most football fans have never heard of it.

Both teams come from The Isles of Scilly which comprises some 55 islands and over 90 rocks. It is situated 25 miles off the southwestern tip of Cornwall, England. The Gunners and the Wanderers compete in The Isles of Scilly Football League, which is by far the smallest in the world, with only these two clubs (the Football League attempted to make its way into the Guinness World Records, but their bid was rejected for some reason).

The Gunners and the Wanderers face each other on Sundays, around twenty times (!) a year. The teams share the same field, the Garrison Field on the largest island, St. Mary’s.

The referee is also the same for the whole season. How do the teams transfer a player in this tiny, isolated archipelago? Well, it’s simple and fair. A couple of weeks before the start of the season, the captains meet in a pub and pick their teams, as in the good old PE classes in primary schools…

The players are good friends, and usually meet, chat and drink after the games in a local pub. Otherwise the Scillonian Club is not your average English pub: if you ask a team member, he would show you the smallest football trophy in the world, kept in the pub’s locker.

The Lyonesse Cup is competed for annually by the combined island team and the Dynamo Choughs. Handle with care though: the trophy is only 6mm’s tall…

PH István Fekete

IG @p.e.n.a.l.t.y
WEB www.istvanfekete.com

Jan 3, 2021

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