A crusading football team have made history by becoming the first heterosexual side to play – in a GAY league.
Trowbridge Tigers have been accepted into the Gay Football Supporter’s Network league despite consisting mainly of straight players.
Officials agreed to relax their normal admission rules in a bid to ”break down barriers” between the gay and straight footballing communities.
The Tigers’ straight players are quickly adapting to life in the new league – swapping post-match drinks in the pub for wild nights at gay bars.
Club captain Tim Brown, 32, who is straight, said: ”We chose to join the league because some of our players had played in the gay league and said how good it was.
”The games are often more friendlier and less macho.
”We see it as introducing players to something they may not have experienced before – most of them have not been into a gay environment.
”The lads are fine with it. Many, especially the younger ones, don’t bat an eyelid, which shows how attitudes have changed.”
The Gay Football Supporters Network (GFSN) national league is the world’s only 11-a-side league for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people (LBGT).
Tim founded the Trowbridge Tigers in July after playing in a local gay team with his homosexual cousin Nick Pitcher.
The squad now has a pool of 40 players, five of whom are gay.
Tim said: ”I was accepted into a local gay football team that my friends were a part of and it seems there was quite a bit of interest locally, so we formed a new team.
”We only take on people who are open-minded.
”All the teams are really friendly and there’s a more social aspect about the games. We all go for drinks together and socialise.
”You get the odd comment about being the only mixed team but everyone gets on really well and that is a great testament to the times we are in now.”
The Tigers got off to a shakey start but are now performing well in Division Two of the GFSN, winning their most recent match against London-based Leftfooters 3-2.
Tim’s cousin Nick, 55, said: ”This team is really breaking down barriers.
”Things are very different nowadays and young guys these days don’t care whether you are straight or gay. They just want to play football.”
Straight Luke Potter, 17, said: ”When they first asked me to play they didn’t tell me that it was a gay league until I was about to go on in the first game.
”I didn’t mind at all. It’s no different from any other football game.”
The Tigers recently competed in the Gay Games in Germany where they were the second highest placed UK team and took part in both the opening and closing ceremonies.
The team also has aspirations to play in the Euro Cup in Manchester and in the Euro Games in Holland.
But despite having 40 players signed up for the season, both gay and straight, the team is always on the look out for more gay friendly players.
”It’s not just about skill,” said Nick, ”people are accepted with the right attitude. Macho men are not acceptable.”