An inaugural football league for railway workers has come to a sizzling end with an entertaining 4-0 encounter.
Thameslink and Southern Traincrews (TC) romped to victory over South Western Railway TC in what was a pivotal game on October 20.
With league rivals Brighton TC getting a bye on the same day after Great Northern TC were unable to field a team, it left Thameslink and Southern TC needing at least a draw to clinch the GTR Corporate Flexi Football League title.
The team’s manager Mark Webb (pictured above, centre), who is a testing and commissioning driver at Thameslink, said: “With us drawing with South West Railway earlier on in the season we knew it was going to be a tight game but I managed to get a good, strong team together and we won 4-0.”
Thameslink Southern TC drew on a pool of around 40 players during the season. Of those, Mark pulled out Southern train driver and midfielder Sean Lewis, who was the players’ player of the year, and Thameslink train driver and striker Mark Wardell, who bagged 11 goals, as key players.
The 4-0 result brought a close to an entertaining first season for the four-team league, which averaged almost six goals a game.
Over the last few years it had become traditional for a football team from Great Northern to play two or three games a year against a team from Southern. When a number of other train crews started joining in with a series of friendly matches being played each year, Mark and train driver Michael D’Santos, who are both based at Three Bridges depot, decided to set up something more official.
With the support of Govia Thameslink Railway, Michael and Mark approached the local football association for help in getting a league up and running for “a good bit of exercise, a social and a good laugh”.
What was important to them was having flexibility to move the monthly fixtures around because of the nature of the players’ shift work. Aside from that, the fixtures have been standard 11-a-side games played across 90 minutes, with each team playing each other twice in the league.
Mark said that next year the league is set to get “even bigger and better” as eight teams join the league – including corporate non-rail industry teams – as it takes on a new three-group format with play-offs at the end of the season. New rail industry sides include: Southern Engineers, Gatwick Express, Piccadilly Line, Northern Line and Thameslink East.
He added: “It’s been really, really well-attended and we’ve all obviously travelled to Peterborough to play Great Northern, to Brighton, we’ve been all over playing and there’s been spectators and everything – it’s had interest and it’s only the inaugural season.”