2008 OutNorthWest - interviewing Ant
Simon Pearson chats to Antony Lockley of Village Manchester FC and gets the lowdown on the highly successful gay men’s football club.
How long have you been part of VMFC?
I have been part of the team for 5 years now, it makes me almost a veteran I guess! – I have been managing the first team for the past twelve months and I also managed the team for a couple of games when I first started before work commitments got in the way – I am not good enough to play so I try and make myself useful in other areas!
If someone wanted to join up with VMFC is it easy to get involved?
It is very easy. We welcome anyone form any level of ability. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t played for ages or you don’t think you are very good! We also have a very active social scene for new people to get involved with the team. Look at the website for details (vmfc.co.uk) where you can get further contact information and there is training every Wednesday evening at Trinity Sports Centre so come get involved!
[NB training is now every Thursday evening at Albert Park in Salford]
What is the age range at VMFC?
Anything from 18 to mid 40s – there are a couple of guys in their 40’s still in the first team for example, but it shouldn’t stop you getting involved whatever your age range.
The team went to Gay World Cup a couple of years ago in Copenhagen – how was the event received over there?
Very well. It was well attended, very well organised and the final was in a major stadium in the city. The facilities were excellent. One of the great things being involved in a gay football team is that you get far more opportunities to be involved and go to events like this – a lot more than if you were involved in an amateur club at a similar level.
What have been the best moments in your opinion at VMFC so far?
There have been quite a few – we won the domestic cup and league (a regular league in Manchester a year or two ago), we also got to the final of the Gay World Cup in Copenhagen a couple of years ago which was televised and although we eventually lost on penalties it was a terrific achievement.
More recently, we also competed in the Euro games in Barcelona, again losing on penalties to a very good French side from Paris in the quarter finals but it was amazing being part of the team and the experience out there was fantastic.
(Simon: Not again losing on penalties!) (Anthony: Yes the English we are hopeless aren’t we).
We did win a penalty shoot out (The Umbro Cup) when we got to the semi final so the standing joke of penalty misses within the club came to an end in style! We had all convinced ourselves beforehand that we were going to miss so a bit of reverse psychology obviously helped!
Do you get any homophobic abuse during a game with other ‘straight’ players?
It is very rare to be honest. We are good bunch of lads and we feel engagement with main stream sports is very important. Yes I know some similar gay sport teams don’t do this but we feel this is the most proactive way of tackling stereotypes head on.
Where do you see the club going from here?
Our ambition has always been to develop and progress and for people to enjoy it, we have recovered in terms of a laps in membership. A lot more players have joined the club of late and many of them are quality football players. As a result our fortunes have turned on the pitch. Our second team (GFSN league) were 2-0 down in a cup competition and we scored two goals late in the game to win the game 3-2 earlier in the year.
Although the GFSN league is taken a lot less seriously than the other competitions, when the guys are putting on the shirt, there is still a very competitive edge to them.