Going Green

Combined Counties Football League Division 1 – Staines Lammas FC v Guernsey FC
Wednesday, 26th October 2011, 7.45pm
Robert Parker Stadium (Ashford Town FC)
Distance 10 miles, Attendance 275
A strange thing is happening near the bottom of the pyramid. Green Lions. Of course such a name brings to mind ADHD-inducing sweets bartered over in playgrounds countrywide. But this green invasion is neither that nor vegans tying themselves to the nearest tree. This green belongs to the shirts of Guernsey, one of the country’s newest league teams.
I’m not going to pretend I know too much about the team or the place. Yes my Grandfather (the conscientious objector) assisted winning the liberation of the Channel Islands from his German cousins many years ago… I’ve even been there twice and returned with sports trophies, but now I think the tide is turning. This time Guernsey has come to the mainland and is running away with the league. Less than a year old, this team, for those who love football (as opposed to big TV screens with flashing-swooshing graphics and SHOUTY PUNDITS) this team really IS a big deal. The club is a registered charity and will remain a non-profit organisation with any financial surpluses being re-invested for the future viability of the club and hence the benefit of the local community.” says their website. Now there is a sentence you’ll never find in the premier league handbook.  The players, in the traditions of a bygone era, are all locals, born and bred. With players you can identify with, it’s no surprise that they get 1500 fans each home game. Not sure if this counts as glory-hunting but when they came to town* I had to go and see them for myself. Interestingly so did hundreds of others.

In a league where the average attendance is around 100, getting 1500 is a huge achievement. Staines Lammas average attendance in 52 but for one night only nearly 300 came to watch. And that’s it, that’s the effect Guernsey are having. Forget the fact they are clearly a well run club, with good skill fitness and skill levels, this club is bringing in much needed gate money to every club it plays. The game itself was quite one-sided on the pitch and completely green in the stands, with the Green Lions giving their rain-sodden fans a 3-1 win to celebrate. Who scored means little it was a fine team performance, and I can’t wait to see them again. Given the opportunity, and my lovely wife’s approval, I’ll be ground-hopping to The Footes Lane Stadium this season… Fingers crossed.
(* near my home)
A proper match report, from GuernseyFC.com
Information on The Combined Counties League
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2 Responses to Going Green

  1. drbillyo says:

    There’s little doubt Guernsey will win the Combined Counties Division One title this season, and probably the Premier Division next season. The really interesting bit will come, when it remains to be seen if the Southern/Isthmian Leagues will accept them.

    I hope so, but the system Guernsey currently run – where the players are selected from the 7 clubs sides in Guernsey, are squad rotated so they can still play for their clubs (and all are Guernsey nationals) means the club is effectively run as a national side.

    I don’t think this funding/selection arrangement will cut it with leagues further up the pyramid who’s clubs don’t need the fan injection as much as those in the Combined Counties. It might also not cut it with the FA, who will have to sanction the model to allow entry into the Vase next season and the FA Cup the subsequent season. But perhaps, given the success of the experiment so far the club will break away slightly from the Guernsey FA to become more independent.

    I wish them every success though, and like you, look forward to trip to Footes lane. Home crowds of 5000, should in theory support Conference National football at the very least, if they open their team up to non-nationals to get the require footballing quality (if it’s not already there).

  2. drbillyo says:

    Sorry, home crowds of 1500 should support Conference. Mixed my average gates and capacity.

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