150 grassroots football volunteers received the royal treatment this month when they were honoured in a special service at Buckingham Palace.
The ceremony to recognise the game’s unsung heroes was put in place by Football Association President HRH the Duke of Cambridge as part of the FA’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
It was followed by the first ever official match held on the Buckingham Palace lawn – a Southern Amateur League fixture that saw Polytechnic defeat Civil Service FC 2-1 in a game overseen by World Cup Final referee Howard Webb.
Earlier the Duke addressed the 150 volunteers, thanking them for their vital hard work towards “the most loved game in the country” before welcoming them to one of the more unusual football venues.
“I cannot tell you how excited I am that later today we will be playing football on my grandmother’s lawn. One warning, though: if anyone breaks a window, you can answer to her.”
FA Chairman Greg Dyke also paid tribute to the army of volunteers that keep the grassroots game thriving.
“From coaches to kit men, grounds men to bus drivers, referees to tea-ladies; grassroots football brings out a true sense of community. Everyone who has ever played the game has benefited from the support of a volunteer,” he said.
“The game survives and thrives on the contribution of 400,000 volunteers, whom week in and week out give of their time, in every County, club and league in the land .They are the lifeblood of the game and I am so pleased we are able to celebrate their immeasurable contribution here today in this our 150th year.”