The Isles of Scilly Football League may be the smallest in the world, but it offers a unique and exciting experience for football fans. With only two teams, the Woolpack Wanderers and the Garrison Gunners, there is a 50-50 chance of winning the league title. The teams play each other a staggering 17 times, often on Sundays, and also compete in the Wholesalers Cup and the Foredeck Cup.
The league has remained unchanged since 1920, with no relegation or promotion. Originally called Rangers and Rovers, the teams were rebranded in 1984 to their current names. The Woolpack Wanderers are the current champions and have won the league the most times.
The teams are selected each season in a unique way. The two captains and vice-captains write all the names down on a sheet of paper, in positions, and flip a coin to take turns picking the better players. The worst player is not told they were picked last, which is a nice touch. The selection process takes place in a pub, where players can enjoy a few beers and socialize.
The league has even attracted footballing royalty. In 2008, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Patrick Vieira, Michael Ballack, and Jose Mourinho flew into St Mary’s to film an ad for Adidas called “Dream Big.” The Scillonian referee David Grottick said that David Beckham was “absolutely superb,” and the kids had a great time. The advert was expected to have a knock-on effect on tourism in the area.
In 2019, the Scilly football league trialed video technology using Vodafone’s 5G network. Fan-Assistant Refereeing was used for one of the games, allowing fans to review incidents on their phones and have their say on decisions. A quick online vote was then relayed to the referee, who would enforce the decision.
Despite the lack of teams and fans, the games are fiercely contested. In the 12th game of the season between the Woolpack Wanderers and the Garrison Gunners, only eight people watched. However, this did not stop the excitement as boat builder Andrew Hicks gave the Gunners an early lead, but goals from Jack Stone and Rob Greenlaw moved Wanderers 12 points ahead with just five games to play.
In conclusion, the Isles of Scilly Football League may be small, but it offers a unique and exciting experience for football fans. With only two teams, there is a 50-50 chance of winning the league title, and fans have every chance of seeing their heroes lifting some silverware. The league has remained unchanged since 1920, with no relegation or promotion. The teams are selected each season in a unique way, and the league has even attracted footballing royalty. Despite the lack of teams and fans, the games are fiercely contested, making it an exciting experience for all involved.