Republica Internationale prides itself on being a socialist Sunday League football club and has recently marked its thirtieth anniversary. But what does it mean to be a socialist club? And how does Sunday league football foster left wing politics and culture?
The club was not always called Republica Internationale. Like that great punk band Spizz (Oil, Energy, Athletico 80 and Spizzles), the club name changed regularly over the years, but it started in 1983 as Woodhouse Wanderers; a combination of the park where they would train and a reflection of the transient nature of the membership. Club lore recalls that “a bunch of footballing lefty radicals (Anarchists, Marxists, Neo-Marxists, Communists and Socialists) met in a smoke filled pub (not unlike Marx and Engels prior to the publication of Das Kapital) called The Pack Horse in Leeds and decided to form a football team (rather than emancipate the proletariat and seize control of the means of production!)”(see Republica Internationale 2013b).
Collectively, and many long in the tooth, the original founder members had each played under and become disillusioned by the ethos and values of typical men’s Sunday league clubs. A win at all costs philosophy and hyper masculine violence were the norm, and right wing prejudices, sexism and racism, were endemic.
The originals were socialists who played football and wanted a club of likeminded people which would counter these traditional values and prejudices and foster an egalitarian approach; a lefty alternative. In order to try and attract the right sort of people an advert was placed in the then lefty independent Leeds Other Paper insisting recruits needed to be a card carrying member of the Labour Party (!) whose socialist disposition was more credible in 1983, unlike now. But even then many members were far more left wing than the Labour Party and no one bothered to check party affiliation although some recruits did volunteer their affiliation. So they began training, located themselves from The Chemic pub, and re-joined the Sunday League as an “alternative football club” in 1984.
For more information, please feel free to read a more detailed article on Republica’s history here.
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