Disused ground at Barvas, Isle of Lewis.

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With the World Cup heading towards it’s climax I though I’d blog a bit about football on the island.

The Lewis and Harris Football League is the island’s annual football league.

Lewis contributes eight clubs to the league and Harris contributes one. The league is fully licensed with the SFA and the nine teams are Back FCCarloway FC, Harris FC, Lochs FCNess FC, Point, Stornoway Athletic, Stornoway United and West Side FC.

Football in Lewis and Harris is played at breath-taking pace throughout the summer months, the season running from April to September each year as not even the most foolhardy would attempt to play during the harsh Hebridean winter. With up to 3 games a week to fit in the league and several cups (including the Acres Boys Club Cup, Jock Stein Cup, Lewis Cup and Co-op Cup), even local derbies can occur more than 6 times a season giving the fans enough chances to savour the sweet success of a win over their deadliest rivals.

Each club also competes in the Highland Amateur Cup annually, with member clubs winning the cup three times in the last four years, with Lochs winning it twice and Back winning it once.

Teams also compete in the The Eilean Fhraoich Cup which is unique to Lewis and Harris Football. The cup is played annually when every player returns to the team that represents the village where they were born or where their parents were born and on some occasions where their grand-parents where born. If you are not an islander you can play for the team that represents where you live. This creates a unique team spirit that cannot be compared elsewhere in domestic football.

There have been instances of players trawling through their family tree to play in the Eilean Fhraoich Cup. Either they have fallen out with their local team or they were born in Stornoway. If you were born in Stornoway and have no relations outside the town then you cannot play in the cup as it is a village cup and no-one from the big city is allowed to play.

Despite my Grandad being an Aths (Stornoway Athletic) player during the 50’s, I’ll admit to being a Ness fan having watched the green and blacks at my first game as a kid at Goathill Park in Stornoway and have seen them play since at the mighty Fivepenny Park in Eoropie.

I’ve also had the honour of stepping out onto the pitch at Back’s ground when playing for Millburn Academy Under 18’s against the Nicholson Institute in the quarter finals of the North of Scotland Schools Cup. I seem to recall we lost that leg, due in no small part to a seven hour journey to Stornoway, a sleepless night in the Niccie’s gym hall and a hostile home crowd (who also greeted us with jeers at the ferry the day before). However we won the next game at home and went on to eventually win the cup.

If you’d like to keep track of the scores and games then tune into Skid13’s Youtube channel for match highlights. Meantime here’s Aths thrashing West Side 6-0 in the Jock Stein Cup at Goathill.