CONIFA Stadiums – Queen Elizabeth II Stadium
Queen Elizabeth II Stadium – Enfield Town FC
It’s the 2018 CONIFA World Football Cup Final between Northern Cyprus and Karpatalja. The venue, at the beautifully named Donkey Lane, is the QEII Stadium. The man in the middle? Well that’s Champions League final ref Mark Clattenburg. Unconventional? Unorthodox? Unprecedented? It certainly wasn’t your run-of-the-mill footballing occasion…
The QEII stadium was built for athletics and was completed a few years after the 2nd world war. As the tumbleweeds began planning their approach, Enfield Town FC, working with the local council, took up residence. The athletics track was improved and 2 stands placed behind the goals (but inside the perimeter of the track) providing the intimate views that football needs. A third stand runs along the far touchline on the outside of the track, but the main attraction around here is the grandstand. Is there a stand more grand? The wonderful art deco building provides covered seating, toilets, changing rooms, and the clubhouse (Butler’s Bar).
The stand is a grade two listed building. It’s said to be one of only two senior football clubs in the UK to have a graded heritage building operating every match day (Fulham are the other). From your arrival to your departure you won’t stop snatching views and taking one more photo.
Enfield Town FC were born in 2001 after a fans breakaway from Enfield FC. Town became the first supporter-owned club in the country and shared a ground with Brimsdown Rovers. The move to Donkey Lane was completed for a first match v Tottenham Hotspur in 2011. Since their inception, Enfield Town have climbed from the Essex Senior League to the Bostik Premier League, the third highest tier in English Football.
ETFC Director Ram Ismail commented:
“Our first 10 years since our formation in 2001 were spent groundsharing at Brimsdown Rovers. This deprived us of our commercial potential the vast majority of ground owning clubs enjoy such as bar takings and venue hiring. Having our own ground allows us to plan, develop and grow at a controlled pace and vision.”
Undoubtedly that development has taken huge steps this summer as the club hosted 10 CONIFA matches. The club attendance record was beaten on the tournament’s second day as over 1,500 were in attendance watching Abkhazia v Karpatalya and Northern Cyprus v Tibet. Then the final itself saw over 2,500 pack the ground providing a spectacular, colourful and pyrotechnic-filled atmosphere.
“Hosting the CONIFA games is an exact example of grabbing a commercial opportunity. Additionally, the CONIFA ethos of bringing people together from all over the world and the many diverse cultures that live in Enfield has helped our community to interact with their local Non League Club.”
The Donkey Lane final unsurprisingly gave us two stubborn defences and it was 0-0 after 90 minutes. Sanctuary was then found, as the rain began to fall, in the lottery that is a penalty shoot out. Karpatalja (A Hungarian community living in Western Ukraine) were victors thanks to their talented goalkeeper, but for once the cliche is an accurate one, “football was the winner.”
QEII Stadium was chosen to host 10 matches during CONIFA Football World Cup 2018 – visit the website for more information http://www.conifa.org/en/
Photos can be found here https://flic.kr/s/aHskCNvENb
CONIFA, the Confederation of Independent Football Associations, is the football federation for all associations outside FIFA. It’s a global acting non-profit organization that supports representatives of international football teams from nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples and sports isolated territories.
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