RAF Croughton has a registered "Football Club"

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Chrissy Best
  • 501st Combat Support Wing
The wet grass glistened as bright lights overhead illuminated a path for the RAF Croughton Football Club as they took to their home field to challenge the Banbury Galaxy Football Club at RAF Croughton, England, Dec. 10.

This game was one of the first opportunities for the RAF Croughton FC to play as a newly-recognized football club with the Royal Air Force Football Association.

"Our team is a fully registered football club under the RAF Football Association, which makes it "legal" to play other teams in the area, "said Col. Douglas Mellars, 422nd Air Base Group commander. "I believe that this is a very good outreach program that helps to build good relations with not only the local towns and villages, and their players, but also RAF personnel."

The RAF Football Association was formed in 1920 as a means to provide structured opportunities for organizations, like the RAF Croughton FC, to participate in matches against various teams throughout the area. The idea for Croughton to have a team was born during a celebration at the base.

"During the annual 4th of July picnic, this summer, I watched the amazing skill of some guys playing football, and thought, maybe we should have a team," said Chaplain, Maj., Jack Stanley, 422nd ABG head chaplain. Stanley, in a joint effort with Mark Kosobucki, an official soccer referee, who recently had his credentials recognized in England - enabling him to referee football, kicked around some ideas of how to care for their young Airmen and create a team.

Word of the flagship team spread quickly. Upon learning of the team, Kevin Webb, 422nd Air Base Squadron vehicle management supervisor, immediately joined.  During the first few practices he noticed a few fundamental flaws in their set-up and approach. Kosobucki and Stanley sought his advice and, as a result, offered him the position as coach.

Under the leadership of Kosobucki, Stanley, and recently appointed coach, the team has already played many local teams, such as Croughton FC, Brill FC, Brackley FC, RAF Brize Norton and Banbury Galaxy.

"I love playing with the team," said Webb "Seeing how everyone develops and gets stronger from week to week is amazing."

Webb said he enjoys coaching the team and selecting the players and formations, but remembers that RAF Croughton only has a small talent pool to select from. However, he is continually impressed how far they have come.

"We are a member of the RAF League now, but are in "club status", meaning any games that we play are 'friendlies,' and that a win or loss doesn't go against us or the team that we play for the official record," said Stanley. "We are 'training,' or practicing with the other teams, and have held our own."

The latest training match against the Banbury Galaxy FC, was met with high praise from their coach.

"We heard you just threw a team together," said the Banbury Galaxy FC head coach. "This doesn't seem to be the case, we are impressed with your skills."

The Banbury Galaxy FC, has been playing together for roughly seven years and have never played an American team before. After the game the Banbury coach said it was a great experience and would do it again.

Kosobucki agreed and continued, "Our level of play has improved over the last few months, we compete against teams that have be together for years, win or lose we are always able to take something away from each game we play."

The RAF Croughton FC players said they enjoyed engaging with the local community, through something they love and look forward to continuing to build relationships, improving skills and hopefully joining a division next season.