Younger readers should be aware of offensive terms in the following piece which have not been redacted.
Will Oster and his London Falcons teammates want to be seen as a success. They don’t trump – indeed, they actively discourage – the go-to line of football’s hostility to its LGBT+ members, or how a shared story of abuse and discrimination has moulded thick-skinned communities.
Those realities are very much experienced by LGBT+ supporters and players across the country. But they’re not what Oster wants to dwell on. Instead, he focuses on the club he chairs which was promoted in the 2019 Wimbledon and District League and holds three Gay Football Supporters Network National League and four London Unity League titles.
He discusses a team of players and friends who are both LGBT+ and not, but all who have a passion for football, and he explains the history of a side which provided its members a safe and enjoyable place to play without discrimination.
“We launched in 2006 as a team for mainly gay and bisexual men who perhaps felt they had fallen out of love with the game,” says Will, a teacher who today lives in Wandsworth. “They couldn’t maybe get as involved in football as they once wanted to due to a variety of reasons.
“It could be a sense that they’d gone to football games and had experienced things that put them off watching. It could have been playing in matches where they saw homophobic behaviour on the pitch and maybe seen people on their team not stand up.