Stonewall FC’s Mike Sholly lived out a childhood dream on Friday evening, by running out and scoring at Wembley Stadium.
Sholly hit the pick of the evening’s goals, as Stonewall beat Wilberforce Wanderers by 3-1 on what was a historic occasion in the Middlesex County Football League.
- Middlesex County Football League
- Friday 30 November 2018
- Wembley Stadium connected by EE
With Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign in full flow throughout November, it was fitting that the country’s leading LGBT club capped off a memorable month by picking up the three points in front of over 1000 fans.
And they had to show their character too, after falling behind early on to Stuart Gardner's ninth minute goal.
Nasar Nakhli levelled things up before the break before Stonewall competed the turnaround in the later stages of the game thanks to strikes from Sholly and Ollie Rabie.
“It was an incredible experience, to say it was beyond my expectations is an understatement,” said Sholly, after the game.
“What an occasion, to make this possible, it will mean so much to so many people and I know it does to us.
“For us, even walking up to the stadium before the game and seeing the Arch in rainbow colours and our name on the screen outside, that was amazing for us.
“We realised then what an occasion and spectacle had been put on for us.
“Once we got in the dressing room and we were sitting where so many legends and players we’ve grown up watching as kids with posters on the wall, that’s when it set in and we realised the gravitas of what tonight represented for so many people.”
For Sholly, the moment arrived in the 77th minute when his volley put Stonewall ahead for the first time in the game and it’s something he admits he’ll be talking about for a long time.
“I had no expectations to score so it was 100 per cent a dream come true,” he added.
“It just popped up after the keeper parried it out and I managed to get inside the defender and catch it on the volley.
“I’m going to say it went top bins. Yes, it definitely went top bins
“I thought we struggled to settle in the first half, whether it was the occasion or the atmosphere, as that was a big thing.
“But having a crowd there made a difference to the players.
“I had my grandmother who came all the way from my hometown and my uncle, who brought my nine-year-old cousin and I could see in his eyes the disbelief that he was at Wembley watching me here.
“It was a big thing for the LGBT community and ourselves and I think for football, to know you can play and be yourself on the pitch, without facing any negative comments, it was incredible.
“Tonight was much bigger than Stonewall FC, it was an incredible platform for the LGBT community to say, we can play football at a good level.
“So I hope that if you’re a young kid or a slightly older adult who is playing within a straight team and identifies as LGBTQ but doesn’t feel comfortable coming out, spectacles like this give you hope that you can come out, be yourself and play at a good level.”