If you live in my part of Bristol, you will probably have heard about the Easton Cowboys and Cowgirls. Starting years ago as a mates’ football kick-around, this Sunday league team has grown to a sports club with a difference – it’s the way they do it.
Now including football, netball and cricket, with their own pub HQ (The Plough), the Cowboys are a campaigning force to be reckoned with, as well as a social club and much more. They are internationalist in focus, as well as local – the Easton Cowgirls, for instance, toured the Occupied Palestinian Territories a few years back, playing women-only teams. The club has played a leading role in world anti-racism cup, the alternative World Cup and many missions of peace and understanding through football – to Mexico, to Palestine and across Europe as well as the UK.
As a new MP, I was contacted by some of the Cowboys as they had been befriending and supporting a young man who was at risk of deportation back to a country where he would have faced violence because of his sexuality – my office was able to help get the deportation stopped, but it was the Cowboys who supported him, helped welcome him to the city and campaigned for him.
My nephew and several friends play with the Cowboys, so I guess I am a bit partial – so apologies to all other Sunday league teams! But I wanted to highlight the value of football as a social activity which brings people together across the world, as well as the campaigning zeal of this Easton institution. They demonstrate everything which is great about Bristol.
Featured on TV programmes and in the social life of East Bristol, they are an infamous bunch, who bring joy to many via the hook of sport.
After I spoke in the Chamber, I went up to the Hansard clerks – who type up every single word we say every day (poor them!) for the official record – to make sure they spelled the name Easton not Eastern, and even the Hansard clerk there said ‘no, it’s fine, I know who they are!’
So, at this time of the official World Cup (and good luck England for Tuesday!) I salute all amateur sports clubs, but I’m particularly proud to be able to put on the official Hansard record for the House of Commons my celebration of the Easton Cowboys and Cowgirls. I love you guys!