With a constitution that commits to serve the LGBT+ community providing an opportunity for anyone to play football in a supportive and sociable environment, and to allow people to reach their potential in the sport, London Titans Football Club was born 13 years ago in October 2005, and passionately believe that football – the beautiful game – should be accepting and welcoming regardless of sexuality, age, race, religion or ability.
Special report: Words and photos by Chris Jepson
Initial progress was rapid and within 12 months the club would play numerous 11-a-side friendly fixtures, win their first trophy, and enter the GFSN (Gay Football Supporters Network) National League tackling homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in football.
True to their ethos of being seriously competitive, seriously inclusive and seriously fun, London Titans offer a range of footballing options for all abilities. Whether you’re brand new to the sport, or a seasoned pro looking to get back into football, there is something for you.
In fact, what first attracted Terry Connolly, the current Chair, to the club was an “obvious ethos that clearly demonstrated they placed harmony, friendship and community at its heart – rather than medals, trophies and a ruthless desire to win.”
Terry goes on to say, “We firmly believe in community; we’ve raised thousands of pounds for local and national charities. Whilst this money we raise could easily be put back into our club itself (we are, after all, a self-funded local sports team with pitch bills, referees insurance etc), we really do feel it’s important to support our allies, brothers and sisters, and charities – particularly within the LGBT community.”
Kev, a regular player and member for three years, values the eclectic and sociable mix of people that makes it really easy to make friends, and says, “I think its size shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s a pretty big club, and so there’s no pressure to be everywhere at all times. Obviously, getting involved is encouraged and appreciated, but if you just fancy the odd kickabout and night out, Titans can accommodate that. Equally, if you’re set on diving headfirst into LGBTQ football and attending every event, match and committee meeting, you can do that, too.”
Dean, a regular member of just 18 months, met the team on a night out at The Two Brewers and now, in addition to the social side, enjoys playing football with the team, training and occasionally travelling for away games and tournaments. He goes on to say, “There is a more relaxed atmosphere at the Titans and they open their doors to everyone – regardless of their football skill. I can’t speak for the culture of other London LGBTQ clubs, but everyone is really friendly and, even though there are a lot of us, we’re a tight knit group.”
First Team Player Elliot has been playing for almost 3 years and “instantly fell in love with the vibe,” and before he knew it, “had made a whole load of like-minded friends.”
“There’s always a birthday, a club social, or huge events like marching in London Pride where you really do realise what a special bunch of teammates you have. People have best friends, housemates, even fiancés and husbands within the squad, so we really are one big family.”
Much of this has come about because of the support and close links with their two sponsors The Two Brewers and XXL. Jimmy Smith has been wonderfully supportive for many years, and through him and the Brewers team, Titans have really come to appreciate the meaning and value of that support.
Titans also work with Championship club Queens Park Rangers’ Football in the Community Trust, a brilliant initiative where QPR work in partnership with communities, to develop an inclusive range of sporting, educational, cultural and social opportunities, improving the quality of life for individuals and neighbourhoods. The move by such a high profile club to support grassroots LGBT football has been described by the Titans as “virtually unprecedented”.
On the pitch, Titans are now one of the biggest LGBT football teams in the country. They consistently field three, even four, teams over a weekend, and because of their GFSN National League commitments, those teams can be dotted about all over the country at the same time.
“Playing for the Titans first team has provided me with the competitive edge I’ve been seeking from a football team,” says centre half and Loving Life Ambassador Richard. “The commitment from such a large group of players has been commendable; not many LGBT teams can carry a contingent of 30+ players to competitions all around the globe,” he says.
Manager Phil adds, “Personally for me, it’s the bonds I’ve formed with some incredible people that is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced at another club.”
Training with the Titans
Titans weekly Tuesday evening training sessions, led by FA-qualified coaches, could be just the thing to get your dribbling back on par. The sessions are fun, friendly and hard work – but the post-session drink afterwards will make it all worth it!
London Titans FC play in three leagues, with the First Team playing in the FA-affiliated Middlesex County Football League on Saturdays. There is also the opportunity to play against other national and London-based LGBT teams in the GFSN and London Unity League, and with weekly training, friendly matches, tours, international competitions and five-a-side sessions, there really is football for everyone.