Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised there’s a team called FC Romania in the Essex Senior League. With the rising number of Romanians in Britain, it is understandable that football-loving immigrants might like to set-up a team and talk about the old country.
They are not the first of their kind, by any means, and they won’t be the last. Remember, in many different corners of the world, the establishment of football was down to Britons wanting to bring their national pastime to pastures new, including South America, Asia and Africa.
FC Romania have started the new season well. They have won all three of their league games, the most recent a 3-1 victory against Takeley, and they are playing in the FA Cup this season for the first time.
The exiled Romanians drew 0-0 with Haverhill Rovers in the Extra Preliminary Round of the competition at Cheshunt, the adopted home ground of FC Romania. The club’s followers are renowned for being quite colourful and there was a party atmosphere for the cup tie. Anyone who has seen Steaua Bucharest play in London will know that Romanian fans are nothing if not passionate about their football.
The game ended 0-0, but in the replay, goals from Petru Budean, Claudiu Vilcu and an own goal gave FC Romania a 3-0 win. On August 30, FC Romania will play host to Ryman Division One North Heybridge Swifts in the Preliminary Round.
FC Romania were only formed in 2006 by a group of friends. The club only turned semi-professional in 2014 and in 2014-15 entered both the FA Cup and FA Vase. The driving force behind the club is Ionut Vintile, who comes from Targoviste. When he formed FC Romania, he had a dream for the club to play in the FA Cup. In 2014, that dream came true. Vintile inherited a love of football from his father and went on to play for his local team in Targoviste. He also played for some other lower level teams.
Most of the club’s players work in the construction industry, like many of their compatriots who have arrived in Britain over the past few years. Interestingly, one of the people who helps the club behind the scenes is a Brit – John Adams. Another backroom boy is Florin Dumitrache – it would be nice to think he might just be related to the late Florea Dumitrache, who played for his country in the 1960s and 1970s, including the Mexico World Cup.
In the past, FC Romania have featured Claudiu Raducanu, the former Romanian international, in their line-up. Raducanu was capped twice by his country and played for Steaua Bucharest and Espanyol, among other clubs. But not all the club’s players are Romanian, other nationalities have found their way onto the teamsheet in the past year or so, we are told.
But on August 30, Cheshunt’s Theobalds Lane ground will echo to the sound of “Haidi lupe, Haidi”, which loosely translated means, “Go Wolves Go” (the club’s nickname). Game of the People wishes FC Romania the best of luck in their big FA Cup tie!