More normally associated with exclusive garden parties, Buckingham Palace is set to host a one-off football match to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the English Football Association’s formation. The game has been arranged by Prince William, in recognition of his role as the president of the FA.
Buckingham Palace is surrounded by 40 acres of land, providing ample space for a temporary football pitch within its gardens. Head gardener Tony Stones has just under a month to prepare for the first-ever match to be played at Buckingham Palace, pitting Civil Service FC against Polytechnic FC.
The match is also being held in celebration of the 400,000 grassroots volunteers who help stage non-league football matches across the country. 150 of these volunteers will receive medals at a ceremony run alongside the game.
Creating the pitch itself is unlikely to trouble Tony Stones and his team, but the aftermath may be more problematic. The playing surface is likely to be damaged by the 22 players during the match, needing care and attention to restore the turf before next year’s party season restarts in Buckingham Palace Gardens. But with a team of eight full-time gardeners and three part time helpers, Tony should have the resources he needs to get Buckingham Palace Gardens and grass back to normality.
As yet there is no word on whether the Queen will accompany Prince William to the match. Whether she does make it or not, the day is sure to memorable for the players and volunteers participating in this memorable event.