The first Yorkshire International Football Match

On 6th January this year, the world's eyes and ears turned to Yorkshire when it was revealed that an international football team for the region, established only six months prior, had been given official recognition by, and membership of, CONIFA.

An umbrella organisation for non-FIFA states and regions, the CONfederation of Independent Football Associations welcomed Yorkshire into its membership by a unanimous decision. Yorkshire could now boast the world's newest international football team.

An amazing story in its own right, the most remarkable aspect regarding these events, at least for those involved, was the unanimity of the decision. Becoming a member of CONIFA is no easy task. With a series of strict criteria that must be met, and with international perception of the region largely mistaking it for a purely “English” entity, it is a testament to the strength of the bid that success in acquiring membership of CONIFA was so complete.

Although we are unable to share the finer details of that bid, we are able to release a few excerpts from the materials included therein. Punctuated with a few facts, figures and frivolities along the way, we hope you enjoy this snapshot of Yorkshire history and culture, and maybe even learn something new about this great land of ours.

***

For those unfamiliar with the region, Yorkshire lies at a very central point upon the British  mainland. Using 1901 records as a guide (the most accurate for our purposes) it is a region spanning nearly 16,000 km2 and divided into sub-divisions known as Ridings. Such is its size, that Yorkshire can boast a greater landmass than nations such as Montenegro, Gambia and the Bahamas. The population of the Ridings is greater than that of either Wales or Scotland.

Our Viking heritage:

Although the outside world may only know of Yorkshire as an English County, within the British Isles its reputation as a place of stubbornly independent outlook is well established. And much of this is due to the inception of the ancient Kingdom of York. This ancient ancestor of modern day Yorkshire, in terms both geographical and cultural, was established by Danish Vikings – the sons of semi-legendary king, Ragnar Lothbrok – on November 1st , 866. Although in itself a story not much  different to many other parts of Britain at that time, Yorkshire is notable in that it became a Viking  settlement rather than a state in thrall. In essence, Yorkshire became home. When the Danelaw failed, and the influence of the Nordic people waned, this one region remained a native stronghold. Indeed, Yorkshire is the only region to have retained independence as a non Anglo-Saxon nation within the confines of what we now call England, throughout the Early Middle Ages. And it was  this period in history that initiated Yorkshire's cultural divergence from the rest of the Shires.

Centuries later, when its political independence came to an end, Yorkshire was notable by the presence and perseverance of its Norse customs, habits and language – much of which is evident today. But this perseverance has not been without significant cost. From the Harrying of the North (the attempted genocide of the Yorkshire people in 1069) to the various physical and economic oppressions which occurred in the following centuries, the  region's resistance to external overtures of power has resulted in the loss of both livelihood and life. And yet, united by the same deep cultural ties, the 5 million of Yorkshire remain in the same  formidable state of cultural strength as they ever have. Even modern day attempts to divide the region, through the unwanted imposition of border reforms, has failed. Yorkshire, as a unique  cultural entity, continues.

Yorkshire has a unique linguistic heritage which owes much to the tongue of its ancient Danish
ancestry. The region has, for example, more place names of Old Norse origin than any other British
county. Those geographical peculiarities of ancient Yorkshire governance, Ridings and Wapentaks,
are directly attributable to the ancient Dane. Its dialect, often referred to as Broad Yorkshire, owes
far more to Old Norse than it does modern English. Indeed, there are more differences between
Yorkshire dialect and modern English regarding elementary lexical units than there are, for instance,
between Spanish and Italian. Although the numbers of people speaking solely in dialect are limited
to specific demographics, it is estimated that the vast majority of the region's inhabitants use at least
some Broad Yorkshire on a daily basis.

Fun facts

•    Yorkshire is also sometimes known as “The Land of Broad Acres”, or even, “God's Own Country”. 
•    There are more acres in Yorkshire than there are letters in the bible.
•    Malham Cove, one of Yorkshire's most renowned tourist attractions, used to be a waterfall (and occasionally still is) with a drop twice the height of Niagara Falls.
•    Yorkshire Day is not just a celebration of the region, but was originally established to challenge the Westminster-imposed border changes of 1974. An authentic Yorkshire Day celebration should include the “Declaration of Integrity”, thereby asserting the inviolability of the its ancient boundaries.
•    A survey carried out by the Head of Politics and Sociology at Huddersfield University, discovered that only around six percent of the region's population considered itself more English than Yorkshire.
•    Yorkshire is the official home of both the world's oldest football club and the world's oldest football ground.
•    “Origin Day”, which falls on 1st November, has been proposed as an additional day of celebration in the Yorkshire calendar by the Ridings of Jorvik Society – a date which recalls the taking of York by the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok, and the beginning of Yorkshire's unique Viking heritage.
•    Middlesbrough is, and always will be, part of Yorkshire.
•    The Yorkshire Terrier was originally a Scottish breed. If you want a proper Yorkshire dog, get an Airedale: the largest of all the British terriers.
•    Yorkshire is better than anywhere else ;-)