By Jon Stephens: They called themselves Red Star Bedminster – after Red Star Belgrade – not the Post Office.
It all started in October 1987 when myself and Mark Newman – we were friends who had recently moved to Bristol from Durham – met up to think about having a kick-about on a new artificial 5-a-side pitch at Windmill Hill City Farm.
We managed to amass six people for that first game – nobody really new each other very well.
Over the first few month’s connections were made through various social contacts and also cajoling kids form the local park and anyone else who was passing.
Slowly the attendances increased to a regular 15 and had a record turnout of 35.
The Eighties were a time of the “new man” and non-competitive sports. The first game played on the Windmill Hill pitch were parachute games. Jonny was slightly surprised at how all these new guys were so into football and he coined the team BAFC – Born Again Footballers Club.
Over the years a full record was kept of all the players and in 1994 the core of these formed a 11-a-side team called Red Star Bedminster. Teacher Chris Carter from Bedminster and the news editor of this paper Harry Mottram of Henleaze Corinthians had discussed the possibility of forming a “casual league” to play friendlies. There were about six or seven teams in those early days – Easton Monday, Redland Ramblers , Poetic Champions, Cunning Stunts and Snow Hill (who had women players). This ramshackle bunch of teams became the now famous Bristol Corinthian League which now has over ten leagues and over fifty teams of over 35s over 45s and over 50s.
Red Star Bedminster went from strength to strength and over the years boasted over 250 players, 25 different nationalities including South African, Benin, Japan, USA, India, Peru, Brazil, French, Kosovan, Georgian, Welsh, Scottish, Gibraltar, a host of Germans, Spanish, Ethiopia, Portugal, and more recently Hungarian. There were also asylum seekers from Zimbabwe, Senegal, Iran and Russia. And guys who were recently homeless and a young street kid from Columbia brought over and adopted by one of our German players.
Also, there were at least ten fathers and sons who played together. The oldest player 67 youngest 8.
Tours were made to Belgium, Berlin, Poland, Stuggart, Porto, France, Hamburg and Devon joining the international “Alternative World Cup|” which another Bristol Team – Easton Cowboys were involved in. And often hosted by the infamous “Lunatics” from Belgium.
The famous Red Star Badge which its five points became to represent.
CROSSING THE FIVE DIVIDES
- ABILITY – accept anyone regardless of how good they are
- BACKGROUND – accept anyone from any ethnic or class
- INTERNATIONAL – connections and players from many different nationalities
- YOUTH – crossing the age gap. Fathers and sons old and young
- GENDER – support woman’s football
In about 2016 circumstances saw the attendance at the farm dwindle as older players stopped playing. Red Star struggled to raise eleven players and had to rely on Easton Cowboys’ recruits.
It was about to fold but in 2018 joined up with another Red Star team – Red Star Republic – who had similar beliefs. This is called Red Star and now has a 35s 45s and 50s team who play in the Corinthians League.
Jonny and Mark still play on in the 50s team and joined the Bristol Casuals over 60s team which play teams around the country – such as Oxford over 60s, Wales over 60s and 65s, and England over 65s.
December’s issue is out on December 1st, 2021 – free to thousands of homes plus in shops in south Bristol.
Harry Mottram is the news editor of South Bristol Voice monthly magazine and a freelance journalist. Visit http://www.harrymottram.co.uk/