JORDAN CODURI wrote himself into White Rose folklore on Sunday by scoring Yorkshire’s first goal on their international football debut against the Isle of Man.
The match, watched by a crowd of around 500 at the home of Hemsworth Miners’ Welfare FC, and recognised by CONIFA, a federation for teams from “nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples and sports-isolated territories”, ended 1-1 after Furo Davies had scored earlier for the visitors.
While some had mocked the ambitions of Yorkshire to enter the international stage, there was no doubting the enthusiasm of the boisterous crowd nor the unpaid players, plucked entirely from local non-league outfits, including Coduri, who admitted the chance to claim the history-making opener had played on his mind.
“When the opportunity to play for Yorkshire came up I jumped at the chance,” said Coduri, a 25-year-old midfielder with non-league Penistone Church. “The lads had all been talking about who might get that first goal, and nothing has made me prouder than to take that opportunity.”
White Rose flags and a couple of desultory light-blue flares blended with the billowing smoke from a burn-up on an adjacent allotment as Yorkshire’s unlikely odyssey began, albeit without the promised pre-match anthem of ‘Ilkley Moor Bah’t Tat’; the anthems cancelled due to a double-booking of the expected brass band.
Pie and peas were doing a roaring trade in the clubhouse and a tight-fisted raffle prize which seemed oddly suited to the occasion - “10 Stella, four John Smith’s and a box of Yorkshire tea” - was hawked by enthusiastic club officials around the touchlines.
Collectors clamoured for the historic match programme, of which only 200 were printed, and in which Yorkshire chairman Phil Hegarty wrote: “I always knew we’d reach the destination - Yorkshire has a powerful brand - but just never dreamed it would happen so soon.”
Seon Ripley had missed the first chance to make an historic mark for Yorkshire when his early first-half penalty was saved by Isle of Man goalkeeper Dean Kearns.
Davies’ crashing opener early in the second period looked set to earn the Manxmen - one of the founding members of the burgeoning CONIFA movement - victory until Coduri raced onto a fine through-ball from Yorkshire captain Pat McGuire.
As the players milked the applause of a genuinely enthusiastic crowd afterwards, Hegarty promised it was just the start. Yorkshire will host a six-team tournament in May, including the likes of Tibet and the Chagos Islands, while Hegarty is already looking at expanding the squad’s player pool.
We are going to keep playing games and get ourselves high enough up the CONIFA rankings to hopefully get us into the European Championships next year, and the World Cup the year after that.Phil Hegarty
He added: “We are going to keep playing games and get ourselves high enough up the CONIFA rankings to hopefully get us into the European Championships next year, and the World Cup the year after that.
“At the moment our squad consists of players who have been born in Yorkshire but we are looking at a grandfather clause, as well as a clause that allows people who have been here for a certain period of time to also be considered.”