On Saturday 17th September a Guernsey Representative XI played the first of a proposed five competitive games this season at Blanche Pierre Lane, the home of St Martins AC. The opposition on this occasion was ICARUS the Officers XI of the Royal Air Force who used the fixture as the culmination of a four day training camp designed to prepare their squad for the forthcoming season.
The Guernsey Rep. XI was drawn from five local Clubs, Rovers AC, St Martins AC, Vale Recreation, Belgrave Wanderers and Guernsey FC. The respective coaches of each local Club was asked to recommend players and in the absence of any from Sylvans and Rangers and with Northerners AC being unavailable due to competing in the Hampshire Cup the following individuals had the honour of wearing the green and white shirt.
Damian Larkin ©
Ryan Zico Black
Chris Le Noury
It should be noted that six further players made themselves unavailable due to injury or being off island.
For the Guernsey Football Association, the aim of these fixtures is many fold but developing partnerships within all of Guernsey football lies at the heart of the project. Two of the most important aims though are:
- To offer local players a challenge in terms of opposition but also experience a different environment created by coaches that offers a new approach and focus. There is a clear objective of instilling a work ethic and pride in those selected to wear the Guernsey shirt and in developing competition for Muratti and Island Games places. On this point, Guernsey Senior Men’s Manager, Steve Sharman commented that;
“In this sense last night’s game was stripped back to basics. There was not the opportunity to work with the group prior to the game so key messages had to be taken on and a simple game plan followed. At the heart of this and something that was non-negotiable was work ethic, the attitude that without this trait teams are rarely successful. The players arrived in their Club tracksuits to highlight the diversity of the group but also to ensure they realised that they had a duty to represent their Clubs as well as their Island”.
- To engage fully with local senior coaches from the selection of the group to offering opportunities for these coaches to be part of the game and be there on the night. As such, John Peace (Head Coach) and Ben Hunter (Ass. Coach) of St Martins AC accepted the opportunity and fully contributed in defined roles and with their general thoughts and input. The GFA recognises that it is imperative that the next generation of senior coaches are enthused and feel confident enough to put themselves forward so that succession planning can take place and the game moves forward. The GFA intends that these Representative games are played around the local GFA Clubs and that respective coaches are offered the chance to work alongside the appointed GFA staff. Jon Peace commented on the experience when saying;
“Being able to assist Steve and Fal in a Guernsey representative game was a great experience for myself. This is something that any coach or player representing a Priaulx team must experience if given the opportunity.”
For this match, Sharman was again supported by Colin Fallaize (GFA) and they assumed overall responsibility for the Guernsey Representative XI. Fallaize commented;
“this project provides a good communication vehicle between Clubs and Representative football and allows the GFA to be positive in the way it can communicate and facilitate to those GFA Clubs. St Martins AC were outstanding hosts and should be formally thanked.”
Guernsey Representative XI 1 Icarus (RAF Officers XI) 3
If ever the result of a game failed to fully capture the performance of the losing team then this was that game. In a 3-5-2 formation that utilised the large Blanche Pierre pitch and the electrifying pace and energy of the Guernsey forward six players it is no exaggeration to say that six clear goal scoring opportunities were missed in the first half and the game itself should have over as a contest. As it was the half time whistle went with the score at 1-1; the Guernsey goal coming from the outstanding Paris Perreira who latched onto one of numerous pin point passes and dispatched the ball into the top corner with a finish of sublime beauty; the equaliser from one of the rare forays by the RAF into the Guernsey half came from a set piece; a glancing header from a corner.
On the resumption of play the second half was a more equal affair in terms of possession but the Guernsey XI spurned numerous chances created through excellent interplay regardless of the four outfield changes made at half time. Such is the nature of football failure to capitalise on those opportunities can come back to haunt you and this was indeed the case as the RAF found the net with a break away lob and a header at the far post.
The game itself was competitive and afforded exactly the right opportunity for the Guernsey players.
The opposition coach was magnanimous in victory commenting this was his Team’s hardest game in five years and that with better finishing the result would have been considerably different.
Steve Sharman was delighted with the performance even if the result wasn’t the right one.
“You deserve nothing in football if you don’t turn up, show pride and honour in the shirt and a desire to win the game. On all of those areas the Guernsey players were outstanding tonight and created numerous chances with some exciting and free flowing football. This group has been put together for this match, has not trained as a team and has had to take on key messages and a style of play trusting each other and the staff. Anyone that was here tonight could not be other than impressed with their technical ability and attitude. Every one of the players deserved to wear the shirt and did so with aplomb. As a Coach I could not ask them to have done anymore except be clinical in front of goal. I wanted them to go away from tonight having enjoyed being in this environment and to make my job that little bit harder when thinking about future team selection. There were players out there tonight who are the future and others who the sands of time are running out in their football careers but they all should have the opportunity to play for their Island if we can deliver a games programme. We (all of Guernsey football) has that responsibility to move the game forward and this is one way of doing that for players and coaches.
”A great benefit of these Representative games is the opportunity to assess players suitability for the Island Games in Gotland 2017. The requirement for players to be able to play and recover in incredibly short time scales is paramount to success. It was the depth of the squad that allowed players to be rotated in the successful gold medal winning campaign in Jersey in 2015. There has to be greater competition for places in the Guernsey Senior Group something that in recent years hasn't been present."
This and other upcoming fixtures will be used to support preparations as Guernsey look to regain the Muratti in May 2017 and then travel to Gotland in June to defend the Island Games title.