This season, a new club joined the London Unity League. Stokey FC only formed a few months ago, but made an immediate impact in their opening fixture on 1 September, with a 3-1 victory. LUL News caught up with club founder, Paul Francis, to find out more about Stokey FC.
LUL News: How did Stokey FC come about and what made you decide to start up a new football team?
Paul: Stokey FC was formed because I know a lot of people love playing 11 a-side football but can’t necessarily commit to training and matches every week and all the costs that go with it. So, I wanted to strip it back to the bare essentials of just turning up and enjoying playing football on a Sunday amongst friends in a fun and welcoming environment.
How did you decide on the name and the kit colours?
Quite simply, it’s where I’m from and grew up. Stoke Newington has always had a diverse community and reflects the values that I want the team to have. Nearly all the team live in Stokey or the surrounding area.
The kit colours go back to me being one of the founding members of Romans Manor House FC. We originally chose white because, when we first formed, we knew that more or less everyone had a white t-shirt or football shirt of some description and it has stuck ever since. We introduced a bit of gold to add a some flare and, along with the dark navy, it is a classic kit colour combination.
The kit colours go back to me being one of the founding members of Romans Manor House FC. We originally chose white because when we first formed we knew that more or less everyone had a white t-shirt or football shirt of some description & It has stuck ever since. We introduced a bit of gold to add a some flare, and along with the dark navy it is a classic kit colour combination.
What was it like starting and building up a club? Any highlights?
I have always been involved with football and have a long history of organising teams whether that be at school, work, for the local pub or just groups of mates. It’s something that I have a lot of experience doing. However, it is always daunting taking on a new project or a new team. In general, getting new players is not difficult. The hard part is getting players with the right characteristics and personality. It’s like building a new friendship circle instantly. You have to get like-minded people who you’re happy to go out and enjoy playing football with and not have to worry that you are going to get any narrow / closed-minded, or egocentric personalities.
I guess the highlight was the trepidation we felt playing our first friendly as Stokey FC, but then winning it 10-0 and coming to the realisation that you’ve put something together that, although is at its very earliest beginnings, has the potential to grow into something really special and worthwhile.
Could you tell LUL News about your first game in the LUL, versus Phoenix FC. How did you and the players feel going into that match and what was the feeling afterwards?
It was a lot like playing our first friendly, but this time for real. This is where it all starts for Stokey FC. Getting our first win and three points were at stake. Doing it in a friendly is one thing but could we do it when it matters, especially playing Phoenix, who we knew were a good side having come off the back of a good season last year? We knew it would be a real test.
To be honest, the feeling afterwards firstly was a little bit humbling at the fact that we had won, but the over-riding feeling was pride that a group of guys that hadn’t all known each other for that long had come together and worked hard, playing with a good spirit and determination to win.
What are your plans over the coming months?
I guess it’s just to try and grow as a team and continue to get to know each other better and the other teams in the LUL. And if we can win some games along the way, then that’s all the better.
Ending the year, we have been invited to Christmas dinner with London Romans after our match in December. This is quite fitting for me personally because in many ways Stokey FC started back in the summer of 2012 and the root’s of Romans Manor house when we first met and played against Romans in a friendly and was first introduced to the London Unity League.
If there was one reason for people to get involved in Stokey FC, what would it be?
We’re open to anyone who has a passion for the sport: A great bunch of lads and it’s a fun, friendly and inclusive team.
Is there anything else you want to say about Stokey FC?
I’d just like to say a big thank you to all the teams in the LUL. We are very grateful that we have been included in the league in this first season and we hope that Stokey FC will be a good addition and help it to grow in the future. Thanks also to our sponsors, Columbus Assicurazioni and Fab Little Bag. Their support has been invaluable to the formation for Stokey FC.