Hashtag United, the seventh-tier team that began competing in matches in an imaginary league uploaded to YouTube, lay claim to one of the players named in England’s squad for the Under-17 World Cup this month.
The goalkeeper Ted Curd, who is on loan at Hashtag from Chelsea, is an eye-catching call-up in a squad that consists of youngsters playing across elite academies, with Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and West Ham among those represented. Curd, who joined Chelsea before he turned nine, signed on loan for the Isthmian League Premier Division side in September.
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Hashtag, an Essex-based club who play in Pitsea near Basildon, have a hashtag as their club crest and a mass following. They have gained 637,000 subscribers on YouTube and 507,000 on Instagram since being founded by Spencer Owen, whose real surname is Carmichael-Brown, in 2016 and have won three promotions in the past four years.
England’s Under-17s face New Caledonia, Iran and Brazil in Group C, with the tournament in Indonesia starting on 10 November. England will be led by the highly regarded head coach, Ryan Garry, the former Arsenal and Bournemouth defender who joined the Football Association two years ago.
Curd is Hashtag men’s first Premier League loanee and continues to train with Chelsea’s first team alongside his time at Hashtag. “What makes it even better is that he actually asked to come to us,” Carmichael-Brown said. “He was being sent out to another team at the equivalent level and he said: ‘Well, if I’m being sent out to that level, I’d rather go to Hashtag’ because he’s grown up watching the [YouTube] videos.
“It is amazing. We very much targeted getting to this level over the last few years in non-league because we believed that we would be able to get loanees like this. It is a massive thanks to Chelsea for giving us a vote of confidence that we can take their future talent and hopefully help him learn what he needs to learn to kick on and have a fantastic career.
“He has been fantastic so far. He has come into men’s 11-a-side football for the first time with us and he has done brilliantly. You would never know that he is 17, the way that he carries himself.”
In September the winger Sakariya Hassan became the first Hashtag men’s player to be called up for international duty with Somalia while at the club. The Hashtag squad also includes the former Portsmouth and Nottingham Forest defender Greg Halford and the former Yeovil Town defender Nathan Smith.