Hadley Football Club -- the oldest playing in Barnet -- has a surprise away fixture playing a friendly match in the tiny European state of San Marino on Sunday 9 June when they take on a well-placed local team AC Juvenes Dogana.


This first-ever European fixture for Hadley, whose ground is at Brickfield Lane, Arkley, has been organised by dedicated Hadley fan Chris Nash – see above with a commemorative flag that says, “We are the Bricks”.

“Come on You Bricks” is the regular chant at Arkley and will now be heard at the Stadio Ezio Conte in the scenic suburb of Dogana. (kick off 18.00)

A chance to be a football spectator in San Marino has been a long-term ambition of Chris who says it will allow him to “complete the 55” – to watch a match in all 55 UEFA member countries.

A squad of 20 from Hadley FC, plus 30 to 40 supporters, are flying out for the fixture which Chris arranged with the help of a local contact Adrian Eacock, who played for AC Juvenes Dogana and who maintains closed links with the club’s president Massimo Zavatta.

Juvenes Dogana are currently 8th in the San Marino top-flight known as the Campionato Sammarinese di Calcio and they are currently competing for a place in the UEFA Conference League.

In their history they have won nine Coppa Titanos, the national cup of San Marino, and competed in the UEFA Cup and Europa League qualifiers four times, having most recently been knocked out by Brøndby IF in the first round in the 15/16 season.

Chris’s journey to “complete the 55” started back in 2006 when he watched his first game abroad in Germany, and it has spanned some of Europe’s most unique destinations including Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Kazakhstan, Kosovo and, finally after this match, San Marino.

He got the bug after watching England at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He returned to Germany a few months later to watch Alemannia Aachen take on Jurgen Klopp’s Mainz and from there was hooked.

“It is incredible to have the opportunity to complete the 55 by flying a Hadley team to play in our first ever European fixture,” said Chris.

“Over the years I have had tremendous fun watching football across the continent, which has allowed me to take in some of the most beautiful and rustic parts of Europe.

“Sadly, Hadley’s chances of qualifying for one of the UEFA competitions is quite limited, so this trip was the perfect way to combine my love of travel to quirky countries, with my love for Hadley.

“San Marino, which is one of the smallest and interesting countries in Europe, seems like a fitting place to finish this journey.

 “Whatever happens, it will be a fantastic occasion, and I want to thank everyone at AC Juvenes Dogana and Hadley for making it happen. With our opponents harbouring European ambitions we are probably the underdogs, but I am confident that we can cause an upset.”

Hadley FC, which was established in 1882, is currently playing in the Southern League Division One Central, the eighth tier of English football. Managed by Anthony Clark, the Bricks finished 8th this season, their highest-ever finish.

Club chairman Steve Gray said that subject to a footballing miracle – or a Hollywood takeover – this could be their only opportunity to see the Bricks play on the continent.

“It will be a tough match, but after a fine season in the Southern League, I am confident we can do the job.”