The foundation of Mersey Marauders F.C, an LGBT+ friendly football team on Merseyside in 2005 was the idea of Steve Hess. Having previously played for London’s Stonewall FC, Steve used the GFSN as a vehicle to gauge interest in a team from the football Mecca of Liverpool. His initial premise was for ‘Fairies across the Mersey’ to gather together and join in the national 5-a-side tournaments, promoting health and fitness and providing a social group for gay and bisexual football supporters and players in and around the Liverpool area.
A fledgling ‘Fairies across the Mersey FC’ team, consisting of Steve, 2 other guys and 2 ladies loaned from the Leicester Wildecats entered Manchester’s Pride games in Autumn 2005. The team continued to grow thanks to the regional information in the GFSN newsletter and soon, regular Friday evening kickabouts were taking place.
Further development continued in 2006 with two teams entering the GFSN National 5-a-side get together in Newcastle. Names were carefully selected to differentiate the two teams: “The Marauders” were the more competitive side, with the more social players forming the “Mersey Beats”, a play on B–Team and a reference to the stylish 60’s pop group, the Merseybeats!
This initial foray into competition for the players of Merseyside was more successful than imagined losing only in the final after a penalty shoot-out. Damien Mooney was awarded the Player of the Tournament trophy for his haul of 11 goals! The foundations had been set and Mersey Marauders had issued their intent to be a serious challenger in the GFSN tournaments.
2007 brought growth and further recognition within the world of LGBT football on Merseyside. In March, a small band of players braved the snow to compete in the Leeds 5-a-side tournament, producing a respectable performance to finish 4th in their group. Mersey Marauders also took the step to enter their first major national competition, the FA Umbro 5’s. This was a step too far at this fledgling stage against teams that, even at 5-a-side level had sponsorship and coaching staff.
Dublin hosted the 2007 GFSN 5-a-side tournament, again the Marauders providing a strong team, keeping clean sheets in every game until the final. Following on from the national tournament, a Marauders team entered the Leicester Wildecats 6-a-side tournament and returned with a respectable 2 wins and 2 draws and 3 defeats from their matches. One unfortunate incident was our first serious injury, Eduardo Gil de Gomez breaking his arm.
2008 began with the annual Leeds 5-a-side tournament where Merseyside again entered 2 teams. The Marauders continued to fly the flag for Merseyside, finishing runners up to Birmingham Blaze in their group and eventually losing out to Nottingham Ballbois 1-0 in the semi final. The Beats starting off well with a win and a draw but injuries meant that the team was stretched and there was no more success in their group.
Mersey Marauders took their first step into 11-a-side football at the 2nd annual Nottingham tournament. Marauders won their first ever 11-a-side match 1-0 against Birmingham Blaze with Ali Ozturk scoring the deciding historic goal. Marauders then faced Yorkshire Terriers and won 4-2, with Ali grabbing a hat-trick in the game. In the final game of the day the toll of playing 3 matches on one day showed and the Marauders lost out 1-0 to a combined London Titans/Falcons team. The following day the Marauders faced Hot Scots in the semi-final, eventually winning 2-0. The final brought them back face to face with the combined London team. Marauders had to defend for long periods of the game and went down 1-0 from a looping free kick in the dying minutes.
Merseyside had had designs to host the national GFSN 5-a-side tournament since Dublin and canvassed at every available opportunity. The GFSN’s members voted and Liverpool was indeed voted to host the 2008 competition, an apt setting in the year the city was also the European Capital of Culture. Players from around the country were greeted at the Town Hall with a lavish reception hosted by the City’s Mayor. Merseyside fielded 3 teams, introducing the “Pirates” and the Skull & Crossbones as the Club’s logo. The draw pitched the Marauders and the Pirates in the same group, The Pirates took a shock lead but were eventually overcome by the strength and skill of the Marauders by 2-1. The Marauders progressed comfortably through the group stage but lost out to Village Manchester in the Quarter Final 2-1. The Pirates started off with a 0-0 draw with Leicester Wildecats and eventually won their penultimate group match 3-0 against the HotScots, Chris Wright bagging a the hat-trick. The Beats and the Pirates finished 4th in their group. The Club was awarded the Tournament’s Fair Play Trophy.
Sunday June 29th 2008 was a historic day for the Mersey Marauders. There was a meeting of players at Puccino’s on Matthew Street where the club constitution was created and Mersey Marauders FC was formed. Paul Amman was elected to be the club Chairman.
After reaching the final in all four national tournaments in 2011 and winning two, the Marauders’ application to join the GFSN National League was approved in March 2012 and they stormed to a League and Cup double.
If winning Division 3 was a sign of intent the cup final was arguably the milestone occasion in Marauders history with John Appleton at the helm. After a thrilling 3-3 draw Marauders beat London Falcons on penalties at Hyde FC.
The side included Captain and Mersey top scorer Craig Wilson, Chairman Chris Wright at the back and soon to be manager Bernie Gibson patrolling midfield. A look left will show the host of other double winners.
With Bernie Gibson at the helm 2013/14 continued success ensued as Marauders dominated Division 2 and became eventual champions gaining promotion to Division 1. Further penalty success against Village Manchester also ensured a GFSN summer tournament victory.
In the same season Mersey expanded its reach into local 5 aside Football as Peter Lloyd set up a Marauder's second team in the Liverpool Goals North competition. Mersey acquitted themselves well in a tough league and weekly competitive football become a great addition to the Mersey calendar.
Mersey now promoted to the top division for the 2014/15 season endured an injury plagued and difficult season failing to win a game. John Appleton back in charge lost central defender Andy Kent for the season as he pulled up in the first game away to Nottingham setting the scene for a difficult time ahead. With few highlights Mersey finished the season with a 5-0 away defeat away to league and cup winners Saltire Thistle.
Mersey started the 2015-2016 season in the 2nd of a new look 2 division format with new Manager Paul Williams. The Marauders season started with 10 year anniversary party and whilst the league campaign was largely uneventful finishing in mid table they finished with a another celebration winning their second GFSN cup after another victory over London Falcons. Neftali Velidos strike on half time enough to clinch the trophy.
The Marauders start the 2016-2017 with renewed vigour having received a grant from the football foundation to develop a second team. The Marauders plan to continue in the GFSN but seek other friendlies and competition to meet the needs of their diverse squad.