Tractorville Football Part 1 – The Early Years, by Boroman

First Punt
Captain Clough’s idea to set up a Football League in Tractorville was an instant success especially with the local guttersnipes, tavern trash and wharf rats who all fancied giving the new game a go and getting a chance to “put the boot in”. Some order was needed so the first six teams were aligned to local Taverns in the area of Boroman Circus. This gave them an instant allegiance that would quickly become an obsession nay religion. Each team nominated a Captain and chose a badge and kit colours. They were:

Celtic Cross Corinthians (Celtic Cross)
Captain Francisco Benitez. A draconian taskmaster, whose commitment to the game was total. Once had a player keel-hauled for a misplaced back pass. Their rugged playing style was a reflection of their Celtic roots as were their drunken celebrations after the game. No sheep was safe when the Celtics won a match I can tell you. True to their roots they also included many a bard and philosopher in their ranks, the most famous of this period being Michael O’Barja, who on most nights would regale the Celtic Cross patrons with wild tales and intellectual conundrums until he fell over pissed. Shirt: Sky Blue, Badge: Bagpipes on a Celtic Cross.

Hand of Crom Casuals (The Invisible Hand)
Captain Martin Striker. He was know as the Gaol Machine as he was always getting arrested, spending many a post match in the drunk tank. In their first match a deliberate handball by their opponents resulted in the offending hand being cut off and pinned to the ball. Martin himself then curled the resultant free kick into to top corner thus earning them their badge. The team’s approach echoed their Captains name and they often played with four men up front, which made their matches something of a goal feast, though their notoriously weak defence, made up of ex-jockeys, meant goals flew in at both ends. The team was known as the “Beast with no-backs” Shirt: Black and White stripes. Badge: Bloody hand with index finger rampant.

The Horny Devil’s (Devil’s Hornpipe)
Captain Serge Pantaloon. It was rumoured he sold his soul to Satan in return for his many talents. A landlord, who owned the Devil’s Hornpipe, he was also an accomplished raconteur, culinary expert, troubadour and master of the lute. His only weakness was the inability to score on the pitch or as the local Sports Paper “Tractors for Goalposts” quoted “He couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo”. They played in Blood Red and were very successful early on helped by the fact that many close decisions seemed to favour them and extra time was consistently played until they secured a winner. This tempted many punters to suggest they had the referees family held to ransom but the team’s owner and Head of Referees, Jock McGlasgow, begged to differ. Shirt: Red. Badge: Naughty Devil

The Intellectual Strollers (The Furious Debate)
Captain Xurxo Van Damned – Known as the Flying Dutchman for his penchant for driving the team coach and horses at breakneck speed. It took the Intellectuals months of discussion before they finally agreed on a Black Kit though many think it has a purple hue undetectable in normal light. Their early games suffered from an overly strategic approach involving tight possession football but little in the way of goalmouth action. The phrase “Fucking get on with it” was often heard from the sidelines. Plus the decision to pick players on their IQ rather than footballing ability and publish their play book in Latin led to a few early heavy defeats before the practice waned. Shirt: Black. Badge: Open book with legend FGOWI.

Steal City Cutlass’s (Sportsman’s Tavern)
Lord Shabbington of Bramall. A disinherited English Lord who had landed in Galizalbion in search of the legendary City of Gold, Middleboro or Elborado. Boy was he disappointed. The Tavern was in the middle of Boroman Circus, a haven for pick-pocket’s, cut purses and n’er do wells, know to locals as Steal City. Lord Brammall’s ship’s flag was a Skull and Cutlass so he named the team thus. The ships cook had invented a sandwich which was 90% fat and 10% pig’s toes which had proved vital in keeping the crew warm during harsh winter voyages. They were so popular the sailors invented “The Greasy Ship Buttie” song which then became the anthem of the Cutlass team. They were also known for the wide girth of many of its players, who enjoyed a drink or two before after and sometimes during a game. They were the first team to use the Fat Back Four formation. Shirt: Red and White Hoops. Badge: Skull and Cutlass

Shawfield Thursday (City Barracks Tavern)
Captain Tom Davesson. A man whose capacity for drinking was legendary in the Five Kingdoms. After a night on the ale he was also wont to leave the teams kit in the pub meaning the Thursday often turned out in skins. Named for their first owner, a Mr Shawfield Henderson-Relish. He had his first pint of Ale on a Thursday and made his fortune from chicken farming. The clubs badge was a chicken but they soon became known as the “Fowls”. For some unknown reason they developed an intense rivalry with the Cutlass’s with both teams referring to each other as “Swine”. Their most famous player of the period was a barely literate Northern sailor called Christopher Wadlington who, despite his hang dog demeanour, had magic in his feet. He could also make a damn fine sausage but he couldn’t take a penalty to save his life. He lead the team to perhaps their finest triumphs and to this day the team’s fans seem to instantly fall into a pit of despair when mentioning the glory years of the “Waddler”. Shirt: Blue and White Hoops. Badge: a Blue Chicken

The Captains put together a kitty, from stolen booty, to fund the building of a football ground, next to a crossing in the bakery district known as the Bridge of Pies. The Stadium was named The Ponte. It had a capacity of 1,000 and a well stocked bar, run by Captain Serge called the Cat’s Whiskers. The post match crowd could get more than a little boisterous so the good Captain hired buxom wenches to stand guard at the pubs entrance on the premise that even the foulest of black-guard wouldn’t hit a woman. The locals soon referred to the practice as having “a couple of bouncers” on the door.

The league proved a popular diversion for the inhabitants of Tractorville, giving respite from the time’s usual vagaries, like invasion, occasional rioting and the plague. The six teams would expand and their histories develop as time went on. Football was here to stay.

Next: Part 2. The League expands and the shorts get shorter.