Charlton Invicta reach GFSN Cup final for the first time!


On Saturday May 18th, our LGBTQ+ affiliated team Charlton Invicta FC will make their inaugural appearance in the Gay Football Supporters Network (GFSN) National Cup Final. The team head to Birkenhead to face Village Manchester FC at Prenton Park Stadium - the home of EFL Club Tranmere Rovers.

The game promises to be Invicta’s biggest test against a strong Village Manchester who hold the record for the most cup wins including wins in 2018, 2021 and 2022.

The GFSN was formed in 1989 by a small group of gay football fans as a social network and community for gay football fans from all over the UK. The organisation has evolved over 3 decades to become the prominent source for LGBTQ+ visibility and representation in football encompassing both socialising, playing and campaigning across the UK and Ireland.

The GFSN National League was established annually from the 2002/03 season and in 2006 a cup competition was added to the calendar. This season saw the league enter its 21st year with a record 19 teams competing and the cup competition enter its 16th competition with 22 teams competing.

Club Chair Gary Ginnaw spoke of the pride the club have in making a first cup GFSN final appearance: “As a club this is huge achievement and we should all be very proud to make it to our first ever GFSN Cup final. 

“I remember our GFSN cup debut, which was my first game as manager, back in 2015. It was a difficult afternoon as we lost 6-1 lost away to Birmingham Blaze. We have endured some tough results down the years including 6-1 and 7-1 defeats away to Saltire Thistle. And our two best seasons came with quarter final defeats to Village Manchester in 2018 and Dublin Devils in 2022. For the club to make the final this season as a mixed group with some spirited real team performances along the way is credit to everyone involved. And we have done it all with a smile on our faces in every game.

“The final will be a huge test for us as a group. Village Manchester are a strong team with a rich history in this competition. They are role models for all LGBTQ+ clubs and we have a lot of respect for them. When we walk out at Prenton Park on Saturday it will be one of the club's proudest moments – win or lose we will do this together.”

Invicta’s journey to the cup final has seen some battling performances and lots of goals. In round one a strong Nottingham Lions team travelled to SE9 with Invicta running out 3-1 winners in a very competitive game. The quarterfinal draw through up a match away against quarterfinal hosts Birmingham Blaze. Invicta led 4-0 at half time before a second half comeback from the hosts saw Invicta hanging on for a narrow 4-3 win.

When the semi-finals arrived in mid-April it was South-East London rivals Millwall Romans making the trip to New Eltham for a mouth-watering clash. It was another game of two halves as Invicta saw their 2-0 half time lead wiped out late on. After a thrilling end to end 2-2 draw the teams lined up for a dramatic penalty shootout with Lee Holland making the all-important save as the Reds won 5-4 in the shootout. 

Co-Manager’s Lee Holland and Daniel Crump talked of the cup run and their pride in the spirit of the players. Lee said: “It's been a rollercoaster of a season for me personally. I score in both the first round game and the quarter final game and then save a penalty in the shootout against Millwall Romans in the semi-final.

“On the management side this team is something else. The players never know when they are beaten and  the commitment to the games and football has been unbelievable. 

This team is so special in so many ways and I’m so proud of everyone at the club.” 

Daniel Crump said: “Making the final of any competition is special for our club. Next Saturday is going to be a wonderful occasion for the players. And to make the final for the first time after a huge South East London derby win just makes it even more sweeter.

“We will go out and give our all and leave everything on the pitch. Hopefully we can return back to South East London with the GFSN Cup!”

Charlton Athletic’s Co-Owner, Charlie Methven, said: “Here’s hoping that Charlton Invicta follow the lead of our U16s by bringing back some national silverware to The Valley on Saturday. Good luck on Merseyside!”

Dr Michael Seeraj, Head of Equality Diversity and Inclusion at Charlton Athletic FC and CACT said: “Charlton Athletic were the first professional football club in the UK to formally affiliate a LGBTQ+ team and they have come such a long way. Regardless of the result, reaching the final is a massive achievement. Very best of luck!”

Fans are welcome to attend the match at Prenton Park on Saturday and can purchase tickets online at GFSN Cup Final 23/24 Tickets, Sat, May 18, 2024 at 3:00 PM | Eventbrite

On behalf of Charlton Athletic Community Trust, Charlton Athletic FC and the Charlton supporters we would like to wish the team the best of luck for the final. Come on you Reds!

Read Time: 5 mins