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'Don't smash windows' warning to players at Buckingham Palace

Updated: 2013-10-09 07:46
By Reuters in London ( China Daily)

A goal was celebrated with a bow and the halftime drinks were served on silver platters when two of England's oldest amateur soccer teams played in Queen Elizabeth's back garden on Monday in the first match ever staged at Buckingham Palace.

The game between Polytechnic and Civil Service, part of the FA's 150th anniversary celebrations, began with a stern warning from Prince William that anyone breaking a window would have to answer to his grandmother.

Polytechnic won 2-1 in what was a competitive fixture in the Southern Amateur League's first division that was officiated by 2010 World Cup final referee Howard Webb on lawns more accustomed to garden parties.

The first goal was scored by Bojan Jelovac, a part-time tennis coach and model who escaped war-torn Bosnia when he was six. He shunned traditional goal celebrations for a more regal approach.

'Don't smash windows' warning to players at Buckingham Palace 

Britain's Prince William trains on the lawn at Buckingham Palace in London on Monday. William, president of the Football Association, hosted a reception and match between Polytechnic FC and Civil Service FC to celebrate the contribution of FA volunteers. Shaun Botterill / Reuters / Pool

"I kind of pre-planned my celebration if I scored," said the 28-year-old. "I worked out I was going to bow to the prince if I scored, but I couldn't see him. So I bowed anyway."

The first, and most likely last, match to be staged at the palace since it was built more than 300 years ago was the brainchild of William, in his role as FA president.

The full-sized pitch was about the only conventional aspect of the match, watched by about 750 people, with palace footmen serving refreshments in style at the break.

"We are very lucky to have the Duke of Cambridge as the president of the FA and one who could persuade his granny to let us use her back lawn. I think she agreed as long as none of the windows were broken," FA chairman Greg Dyke said.

"I don't think there will ever be another match here like this one, but who knows what might happen when we are 200 years old."

Civil Service was chosen to take part as, like the FA, it is celebrating a 150th anniversary and is the only surviving club of the 11 that founded the organization in 1863.

It turned out to be a more successful afternoon for Polytechnic, one of the oldest clubs in the country, having been formed in 1875.

Jelovac cracked home an unstoppable shot to give Polytechnic the lead before Sandy Smith made it 2-0 in the 70th minute. Dan Huxley pulled one back for Civil Service three minutes later.

"The standard was decent and I was impressed with a lot of play from both sides," said Webb, who is more used to being in charge of top Premier League and international matches.

"I've been lucky enough to referee in some of the great cathedrals of the game around the world, but never in a setting like this.

"Of course Buckingham Palace is one of the great venues of its kind in the world and not a football stadium, but it was a rare honor to be given the chance to play football here," said Webb, whose next game is a World Cup qualifier between Croatia and Belgium in Zagreb on Friday.

"It was quite remarkable and something I never expected and never will forget."

The match followed a ceremony at the palace when the prince presented 150 people with medals for their voluntary work.

"What we are celebrating today is the work done by some 400,000 people who give up their spare time to make football what it is in this country - still keeping the game alive from the roots laid down all those years ago by the men who formed the clubs playing here today," FA general secretary Alex Horne said.

(China Daily 10/09/2013 page22)