Here’s what you need to know about one of CONIFA’s newest members, all set to play their next friendly against Panjab on 18th November!

-by Shaun Underhay

Yorkshire. Home of household favourites such as TV show Emmerdale and Tetley Tea; birthplace of bands such as Def Leppard, Kaiser Chiefs and Arctic Monkeys; where beautiful countryside (the Dales and the Moors) and exciting industrial cities (Leeds and Sheffield) can all be discovered in close proximity.

As a region and historic county within the United Kingdom – and more specifically, the FIFA nation of England – Yorkshire is, of course, ineligible to compete within FIFA. But one of the criteria for CONIFA membership is having a strong sense of cultural identity which, as anyone with roots or links to Yorkshire will tell you, is something the natives have no shortage of. With friendly people who always provide a warm welcome to visitors, the CONIFA family was more than happy to return the courtesy by welcoming Yorkshire as warmly to the fold.

Flying the flag of the famous white rose on a blue background, Yorkshire calls on locally based players from the region’s non-league teams. The team’s captain is experienced midfielder Paddy McGuire, who plays in his hometown of Bradford with Thackley AFC, and the current top scorer is Jordan Coduri of Penistone Church. Head coach Ryan Farrell has played in the USA and coached in Mexico, but is currently based much closer to home, with Bradford City’s youth academy, having previously completed his degree at the University of Huddersfield, and played for numerous local non-league teams.

Yorkshire could call on the nucleus of England’s 2018 FIFA World Cup squad, including Harry Maguire, John Stones and Kyle Walker, and older heads including Fabian Delph, James Milner and Jamie Vardy, but that would be against CONIFA rules, which only allow part-time or amateur players to compete in games. Plus, it would kind of give Yorkshire an unfair advantage… All joking aside, it’s just one example of the region’s fine sporting heritage, particularly in football.

Less than a year after their induction into the CONIFA family, Yorkshire made their debut in January 2018 against Ellan Vannin, which saw them gain a hard-fought 1-1 draw. Even better was to follow two months later, in a thumping 6-0 victory over the Chagos Islands. Both games were friendlies, played in the village of Fitzwilliam, near Wakefield. In April, they played their first fixture outside of the region – also a friendly – in London, where they recorded another emphatic victory over Barawa, host state of the 2018 CONIFA Paddy Power World Football Cup. And in October 2018, the lads travelled to Parishes of Jersey, for their first friendly international, narrowly losing 2-1.

It seems likely that the team will continue to progress within CONIFA, and with an abundance of glorious grounds and stadiums, it would come as little surprise if the family were to be making its way to Yorkshire for the World Football Cup or European Football Cup at some point in the future!