terriers in the media

Football vs Homophobia, February 2016

In March 2013 I was asked to take a quick photograph of the Yorkshire Terriers, a gay- friendly football team who were attending a game at Huddersfield Town (I am the club photographer). I had always been aware that there were no openly gay professional footballers but I did not really understand why.

I decided to start a long term photographic project to understand and portray the different experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who play football. The footballers in these images are all amateur players who have had very different experiences of football in the north of England. Their stories suggest how important it is for everyone who wants to play to be given the opportunity.

Homophobia and transphobia can have serious effects on individuals and no one should have to hide their identity to play the game."

Gay Leeds, August 2015

We sat down to tackle the sexy Yorkshire Terrier gay footballer Stuart Allaway, we did a bit of dribbling too...
GL: Tell us a little about the Yorkshire Terriers and the league that they play in? SA: The Yorkshire Terriers were established around 20 years ago now and it was one of the first gay teams in the UK. We play in three leagues GFSN league which is the gay national league, the M.U.L league which is the four Midlands teams and the Yorkshire Leeds Flexi league (Straight league). We have also won a few trophies, we were GFSN champions at one point and league cup champions plus we've won a few tournaments here and there.

GL: How long have you been playing with the Terriers? SA: I've been playing with the Terriers for about 4 years now, I was made very welcome by the club. I don't feel that I'm part of a club though, it's more of a family.

GL: In sport you've got Tom Daley and Gareth Thomas plus a few others who have "come out" as gay and bi, but why do you think professional footballers are still so reluctant to reveal their sexualities? SA: I think sports stars will always find it hard to come out, they still think it's unacceptable. I feel they may think that they would be treated differently, that they they won't be seen as one of the lads if they reveal that they're LGB or T.

GL: How do you believe we can change the stigma that being gay or bi in sport makes you a worst player? SA: I honestly don't think it's gonna change for a long time unless a big profile name comes out before retirement it will show you can be the best in the world whatever your sexuality is...please let it be Eden hazard he is so fit!

GL: Which football side do you support? SA: I support the best team in world Peterborough United (come on posh).

GL: Our readers will be eager to know if you're single and available? SA: That's lies lies lies, but just in case you're not lying; yes lads I'm single and very much ready to mingle!

GL: You've been out on the gayleeds scene, but what is your favourite LGB&T venue in Leeds? SA: To be fair it depends what night I'm wanting to have. If I wanna go play rock and roll bingo then I'll go Queens Court (QC) or if I want a mad night out I'll go Mission 2 or if I fancy a sing song I will go to the Bridge. I spend most of my time in Bridge LGBT Bar these days as they are now our new club sponsor but let's be honest we'll all probably end up in the New Penny.

GL: Who is your number one celebrity crush? SA: I'm gay but I'm gonna have to say there is something about Ruby Rose from Orange is the New Black (she's testing my sexuality big style).

GL: What song really gets you going pre match? SA: I don't listen to a song before match maybe that's where I'm going wrong, you got any recommendations? I will say however that when England's on TV I will be screaming the national anthem.

GL: If someone wanted to join the terriers then how could they? SA: anyone is welcome to join the Yorkshire Terriers, whatever you ability is. You can find us on on Facebook Instagram or just Google Yorkshire Terriers FC. We do get some people emailing us, with what's shower time like? I will tell you now it's like any other football team we shower that's it! If your are interested In playing or making new friends or maybe you just wanna come down and support us, the get in contact.

GL: What about the Lesbians? Are there any Lesbian football teams to your knowledge in the UK and what do you think of they way women's football is progressing? SA: I don't know if there is a lesbian league, I do know we have lesbians in the GFSN league though some of them girls are really good too.

GL: There's a Leeds gay Rugby team called the Leeds Hornets, do you think the terriers would be up for a half and half charity match with them? SA: We tried to arrange this before but it's just never happened. If you wanna arrange it and bring supporters down the Terriers will be there to give a good show.

GL: On a night out what is your favourite beverage? SA: My favourite drink is a good pint, a Morgan's spiced and coke or make that a double if anyone wants to buy me one?

GL: What are your predictions for the current premiership season? SA: I wanna say Peterborough (starts crying) but it's gonna be very close this year but I'm gonna say Chelsea.

Pulse1, August 2015

Yorkshire's only gay football side are looking for new members, to raise awareness and acceptance in sport. Yorkshire's only gay football team are looking to recruit new members from West Yorkshire as they try to end prejudice in the sport.

The Yorkshire Terriers have been playing together for 21 years- and though based in Leeds they play other teams - gay and straight - from all over, including London, Glasgow, Cardiff and Dublin. They’re hoping to make the team visible to a wider audience, to attract new players for the new season and kick homophobia out of the game. They also try and support young people struggling with their sexuality, and raise money for charity through the team too.

Jack McLean from the team says "I was struggling for quite a while to come to terms with my sexuality- as I was brought up in a very laddy culture. On the flipside of that I often felt I didn't identify with the camp stereotype of a gay man so didn't know what to do. But when I joined the terriers I realised that neither stereotype is particularly true.

"We do have a laugh and banter with other teams, as long as it doesn't go too personal- we play in a straight league as well as a gay league to continue to promote inclusion and for the most part we don’t get abuse- though a couple of our members who play in straight teams as well have suffered abuse at some points."

"We don’t want people to think we're trying to exclude straight people- far from it- we're not isolating ourselves, we play against straight teams and have good friendships with some- we're just trying to make it easier to combat homophobia by being a team."

"I think a lot of people think the terraces give a lot of pressure from fans- but I don't think they are as bad as people make out. I do think it would help younger gay men if some top level professional footballers were to come out though."

Pink News, December 2014

Meet the Yorkshire Terriers, a gay football team to become the latest to strip off in a bid to raise funds for charity.

Players of the Terriers have launched their 2015 calendar in a bid to raise funds for the community team to play on and a portion to go towards tackling prostate cancer.

The Yorkshire Terriers FC 2015 Calendar is available for £10 (postage – £2 UK, £4 Europe, £5 America). Those interested should contact yorkshireterriers@hotmail.co.uk.

The Terriers play at the top tier of the Gay Football Supporters' Network League, and play in a number of local fixture lists.

Leeds Beckett University, April 2014

Leeds Metropolitan University and Yorkshire Terriers Football Club have joined forces to tackle homophobia in sport to raise awareness of equality and diversity.

Leeds Met hosted the game between Leeds Met Carnegie FC v Yorkshire Terriers FC on Saturday 5 April which took place at the University's Headingley Campus. Leeds Metropolitan University is currently ranked 168th in the Stonewall definitive list of Britain's most gay-friendly workplaces leaping 61 places since 2013. The rankings showcase the achievements of employers submitting to the Workplace Equality Index with Leeds Metropolitan University's plan to rank in the top 100 UK employers by 2015.

BSc (Hons) Sport Coaching students were tasked with planning, coordinating and delivering a fixture as part of their course. Student Laurie Griffin, who has been coaching the team, commented: "Football is a universal game and no matter where you come from, your beliefs or the language you speak it is a game that can bring people together without prejudice. Leeds Metropolitan University football team is honored to have supported an event which promotes equality within sport and the local community."

Leeds Metropolitan University Senior Football Coach, John Hall, added: "Having met with Jim Hearson from Yorkshire Terriers, we both agreed that we primarily wanted to play a game. Our student club was really keen to go ahead with a fixture and show their support for and raise awareness of the Terriers as a club, whilst promoting the Football Against Homophobia campaign. The game also provided an opportunity for our students to get involved in organisational side of things too and I see no reason for the fixture not to become a permanent one in the calendar."

Yorkshire Terriers were one of the first gay-friendly teams to be founded in the UK in 1997 and play in the national Gay Football Supporters' Network (GFSN) league, the only one of its kind in the world. The club has been working with West Riding FA and a number of professional teams to help battle homophobia.

Yorkshire Times, April 2014

It took a while for football to overcome racism and sexism, and while both still exist, the work that the likes of the FA have done to help end the issue has been impressive. In the case of the Yorkshire Terriers, it is the evil, often forgotten, of homophobia that the Yorkshire side help combat.

Unable to affiliate with the FA, the Terriers rely on local revenue such as a sponsorship deal with the Viaduct Bar in Leeds.

The team, founded in 1997, play in the GFSN, which is the only national LGB&T football league of its type in the world.

Jim Hearson, the Yorkshire Terriers' Club Secretary feels there is a need for this separate league for now: "It gives people a safer place to play. When we don't play here on Wednesday, we play in a local league. While this is generally okay, there was a homophobic comment made. Obviously we have that to contend with. I know there are teams in London, who play in leagues and I know at least one of them had absolute dog's abuse with all sorts of comments and general aggression because they are gay. There's clearly still a problem there. The homophobia is getting better, but it is nice not to worry about it."

While they cannot affiliate with the FA, the organisation did get them involved in a local league on a Thursday night. There are multiple benefits to this. As Jim explains, the Terries are the only local team, leaving them as the sole representatives of Yorkshire.

This is in stark contrast to the Midlands and London, who have enough teams to play in a mini league of their own. The Terriers play in the national league, which leaves them with limited games and a logistical nightmare. Travelling the length of the country means transport costs, hotel bookings, and for some players, it is too costly an option.

Still, the club would rather have this headache than the issues they had last year.

Sitting comfortably with a squad last summer, Hearson admits: "we were complacent, and did not do any recruitment or promotion. The nadir of which was when the old guard left and retired. Me and two others were here training, it was hardly a session. More should have been there and didn't turn up. Me and the manager knuckled down and have been promoting on social media, the radio and any other opportunities."

The club are reaping the rewards after the realisation of the secretary and manager: " We've had lots of enquiries this season, and plenty have come along. Friends of friends help too. Lots of things this season have helped loads of players join. We could easily have thirty come along these days rather than three now."

The improvement has created a squad full of players from various backgrounds. Whether they are a friend of a friend, a casual player, a former player, they are free to come along and play casually or join the team.

It might all sound rosy, but the team still has issues. Promotion can still be difficult, as Hearson, often at pride events, still has people stunned to hear there is a gay football club in Yorkshire. It is an issue which is found in the whole sport.

As it stands, there is only one openly gay, current player. Robbie Rogers, strained under the pressure of keeping it secret, revealed his secret in a frank, open, blog post one late night and instantly retired. MLS, the American top division soccer league, along with one of its team, the L.A. Galaxy, coaxed him out of retirement.

After a brief training stint, and a deal with the Chicago Fire, Rogers is now playing in MLS for the Galaxy, and hasn't suffered homophobic abuse. This is a fact that pleases Hearson, but also acknowledges that improvement will be gradual: "It took years to get rid of racism, it will probably be the same for homophobia, as the movement started later."

A surprising role model in Joey Barton, who has supported anti-homophobia in the past, represents what Jim Hearson feels gay football needs: "We need a gay player to be a role model really. Barton does well, but isn't gay. If we could have an equivalent without the baggage, that's perfect. We don't want a repeat of the Fashanu tragedy."

While football is yet to have that model, the work of the GFSN and Yorkshire Terriers fills that void more than capably.

Huddersfield Town, March 2013

Huddersfield Town is supporting an international campaign to combat homophobia. The campaign, entitled 'Football v Homophobia' (FvH) aims to unite fans, players, communities, grassroots teams, professional clubs and the Football Authorities in opposing homophobia and prejudice against LGB&T (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans) people in football.

FvH is endorsed and supported by The Football Association, Premier League, Football League, Professional Footballers' Association, League Managers' Association, and Kick It Out. FvH enables people to take action against prejudice and discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity in football, and to celebrate and welcome diversity in the game.

This culminates in an international show of support in February and March to raise awareness of the issue and to showcase new and existing work, in which tonight's npower Championship game against Middlesbrough falls.

Yorkshire Terriers FC, a gay and lesbian football team based in Yorkshire, is attending tonight's game to show support for the FvH campaign and the Club’s backing of it.

Andrew Johnson, Manager of Yorkshire Terriers FC, said: "I respect and applaud any football team that makes a stand and supports the Football v Homophobia campaign. As a player that has been playing in a gay/gay friendly league, I am proud to represent the Yorkshire Terriers in such a campaign."

Town's Chief Executive Nigel Clibbens added: "Huddersfield Town is proud to offer its support for this initiative. Homophobia, transphobia and discrimination against LGB&T people in football is unacceptable and Huddersfield Town is committed to creating safe and inclusive football environments for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Together with FvH we will work to improve football for our LGBT supporters, players and fans and to protect the right of everyone to participate and enjoy football."

As with all forms of abuse or unacceptable behaviour, Huddersfield Town encourages fans to report any incidents in the stands that make our fans uncomfortable.

Radio Leeds, January 2014

New year and time for new hope in football's battle against homophobia with former Aston Villa, West Ham and Everton midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger deciding that now is the time to admit to the world that he's gay.

With the best will in the world, not many fans had heard of Robbie Rogers before he came out - even many Leeds fans didn't know much about him - but Der Hammer has been something of a household name for anyone who has watched the Premier League or Bundesliga over the past decade.

Once again, we were invited onto Radio Leeds to discuss why this is still news in this day and age. Hear the audio here.

The fact is, we're still a long way off equality, but this is another terrific step towards the normalisation of the issue. There appears to be some traction as the negativity towards Hitzlsperger's announcement has been at an absolute minimum and more people are taking the matter seriously, rather than just saying so what? The momentum towards an active player coming out is building - it may not be this year, it may not be next, but what a role model he'll be when it happens.

Kick It Out, February 2013

Yorkshire Terriers, one of the first gay clubs to be established in the late 90s and a member of the Gay Football Supporters' Network (GFSN) league since its inception, have shown their support for Robbie Rogers.

A statement read: "As the region's gay football team, Yorkshire Terriers FC feel immense pride that Leeds United alumni Robbie Rogers has decided to come out as gay and would like to let him know that he'll always have friends in Yorkshire and not just from the people who supported him from the stands at Elland Road."

"Whilst in some ways it's sad that a player's sexuality should garner so much press coverage, unfortunately this is the case for trailblazers, regardless of their field. It's also a shame that Robbie felt that he either had to choose being honest to himself and his those close to him, or having a career as a footballer - the two shouldn't be mutually exclusive."

February is Football v Homophobia month and earlier in the season, Kick It Out held its annual weeks of action - it's heartening that the fight against homophobia in the sport that we love is at the top of many organisations' agendas, but the fight is far from won - that will only be the case when players continue playing after coming out and the majority of people think "so what?".

"We're still a long way from that, but people like Robbie help the cause immeasurably so as a club, we should like to thank him and point out that he - or anyone else who feels that they are in a similar position - is more than welcome to contact us at any time."

Examiner, November 2012

YORKSHIRE'S only gay football team have set out on a campaign to kick homophobia out of football. The Yorkshire Terriers headed north of the border to play a match and support Kick It Out's week of action.

The team, which included Richard Sheard, from Brighouse, were in Edinburgh to play HotScots in the top division of the Gay Football Supporters Network (GFSN) national league.

The match ended as a hard fought 0-0 draw, with both teams lining up together before the game with the Kick It Out One Game One Community banner as well as holding show racism the red card placards.

The team also included Rob Graham, a former University of Huddersfield student and Huddersfield Town fan. Ian James, captain of the Terriers said the league is vital to supporting the kick homophobia out campaign. He said: "We fully support kicking homophobia out of football. Part of the reason the GFSN league exists is so that anyone can enjoy their football without sexuality being an issue."

HotShots chairman Kev Rowe added that professional clubs are giving Kick It Out and Show Racism the Red Card their support. He said: "It is just as important at grass routes level that we send out a clear message that all forms of discrimination in football are unwelcome."

Yorkshire Terriers were one of the first gay-friendly football teams to be established in the UK in 1997. The club are the current holders of the GFSN National cup. The club has also played in a number of international tournaments and the GFSN league since it was formed in 2002, winning once and coming in the top three on a further five occasions.

The GFSN national league includes teams from Brighton, Leicester, Edinburgh and Yorkshire. Yorkshire Terriers play out of division one and currently sit in third place after winning one of their opening three games. The league has grown over the last 10 seasons, expanding from four competing teams to a total of 20 teams in the current season.

The club isn’t just about competitive football though, with kick about sessions held throughout the year at the John Charles centre for sport. The sessions are open to any players regardless of ability or orientation.

Jim Hearson, media officer at the Yorkshire Terriers said: "The Yorkshire Terriers is about more than football, it is all about the social side of things too. "The club has around 30 members at the moment, these include players and none players. Some of the members are partners of players who come to watch the games and can enjoy the benefits provided by the club."

He added: "Some of the teams in the league do play in local leagues as well as the GFSN league. But the GFSN is all about fun and enjoyment, where players can play without worrying about issues like homophobia. "Players feel more included because they can be social and talk about things like which men they fancy, whereas even if a local team isn’t been homophobic they may still feel left out."

BBC, November 2011

Attitudes to homosexuality in sport have changed a lot in recent years.

The public coming-out of stars like rugby player Gareth Thomas or cyclist Graham Obree has helped others to feel they are not alone.

While UK football has not had a gay public figure since the tragic case of Justin Fashanu, many hope that the beautiful game has become more accepting.

One Leeds-based team hopes that they are part of a new era of tolerance.

Yorkshire Terriers play in the Gay Football Supporters Network (GFSN) League against sides from all around the UK. They are made up of gay and gay-friendly players and the age ranges from 18 to over 60.

Chairman Robert Graham explained: "We formed in 1997 off the back of the founding of the GFSN, earlier that decade. We were a group of friends who wanted to get together for a kickabout initially before becoming a bit more serious and forming a proper 11-a-side team."

"I think some gay footballers feel intimidated by what can be a bit of a laddish atmosphere in a lot of Sunday league teams and I don't think that will change soon unless we get more professional players to come out."

"Sweden has just had a professional footballer come out (Anton Hysen, son of former Liverpool defender, Glenn) and the response has been very positive but it may be a while before fan and player culture in this country are such that gay men feel like declaring their sexuality."

"The tabloid press, I'm sure, would be all over anyone brave enough to come out and my guess is that if a high-profile player comes out soon, it will more than likely be a retired player, with nothing much to lose."

"On a local level we've had no problems. As well as playing in the GFSN league we play 'straight' teams and they've all been very accepting and very friendly. If there's one thing football fans can bond together on, it's arguing about football with a pint in your hand."

"We're always open to new players, regardless of age, ability or sexual orientation. We have a constitution which everyone signs to make sure that we remain a tolerant club."