How many teams is needed for the smallest league in the world? The Isles of Scilly answer that question. Small spoiler: there are not many.
A number of football personalities have already secured their place in the Guinness Book of Records. In 2018, for example, Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson set the record for longest hand shot at 75.35 meters.
Rio world champion Jerome Boateng is included in a record 56 undefeated Bundesliga matches, former Bayern colleague Robert Lewandowski has scored the fastest hat-trick, four-pack and five-pack records, and Welsh goalkeeper Tom King signed on name in 2021 when he scored the goal from the longest distance of 96.01 meters.
There are many other well-known names, but it is also worth looking at applications that were originally ignored or rejected. This included a proposal from a small group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean.
Isles of Scilly Football League, a football league based on the Isles of Scilly, located off the southwestern tip of England and has a population of just over 2000, saw itself as the smallest league in the world and as such sought to be included in the record book . Failed in the beginning.
Scilly Football League: Two teams left
The league was formed in the 1920s when teams from the islands of St Mary’s, Tresco, St Martins, Bryher and St Agnes competed against each other. 30 years later there were only two teams left – and they are still the only participants in the league today. They call themselves Garrison Gunners and Woolpack Wanderers and play against each other 18 times (!) Per season (from mid-November to the end of March)). The game is usually played on Sunday mornings.
In addition, the two teams compete in two cup tournaments – based on the League Cup and the FA Cup in English football. Christmas Day (December 26) is also celebrated in the spirit of football with a game “old against young”.
The conditions on site are adventurous, the atmosphere unique. Surrounded by manicured flower beds, shrubbery, chimneys and decadent homes, Garrison Football Field is the only existing football field that, played in the winter, requires special attention. However, the clubs are often powerless in the face of the large number of free-ranging rabbits that regularly make themselves comfortable on the green.
Scilly Football League: “Games are always competitive”
“We once had to stop a game after someone sprained their ankle into a rabbit hole,” recalled Anthony Gibbons, who has been involved with the organization for many years. “We play in fog, hail, thunderstorms, snow, almost all kinds of weather. Conditions.”
But a legitimate question now arises: How can one make a league with only two teams exciting and varied? The cup tournaments and matches to mark a special occasion like Boxing Day have already been mentioned, but the league uses a different trick. The teams’ players are exchanged for each season. Two captains then select their new team for the upcoming season.
“The games are always competitive,” said Will Leathbridge, an active player CornwallLive. “By mixing the teams before each season, it keeps the matches interesting and you don’t always play the same players.”
The average age of the teams is between 30 and 40 years
One looks in vain for great rivalry. For them, it is a hobby and thus a distraction from the daily work. There is no room for hostilities on the small island, which after all should not stand in the way of going together at the pub after the games.
And yet, everything is not perfect around the Isles of Scilly Football League. With more and more young people leaving the island early for the mainland to get an education or work, the number of existing players is getting smaller and smaller. The average age of both teams is between 30 and 40 years.
While no one can be sure how long the game can be maintained at the current level, it was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records in 2016. The Isles of Scilly Football League is – not surprisingly – the smallest affiliated football league in the world with two teams.