Guernsey FA - The History - Part 9

1990’s - Supreme Sylvans

Whilst many locals may have expected Northerners to continue the club’s winning run at the beginning of the 1990’s, this decade would be remembered for being the time when Sylvans conquered all before them by matching St Martins’ record of nine consecutive Priaulx titles, whilst also winning three consecutive Upton trophy matches in what was the most successful period for the club.

The 1990’s started with the GFA once again looking for its own home, with the Secretary stating at the 1990 AGM that;

“As an Association we are 97 years old and as yet we do not have a roof of our own. As most of you are aware, a decision in principle has been taken to build a GFA headquarters at the Track.”

After numerous meetings and discussions, the clubs finally gave the GFA approval to proceed towards submitting a planning application, with the IDC giving permission to build a headquarters in July 1991. Despite this positive progress, the GFA and the Amalgamated Committee were subsequently unable to secure agreeable terms for a lease, particularly as the clubs thought the terms were too financially onerous on the GFA and the headquarters was never built.

The GFA first entered a team into the Island Games in 1991 when sending an Under 21 team to Aaland, with that young team finishing sixth. It was decided after that first experience to send the Senior Island team to future tournaments, but despite this, Guernsey could not finish higher than fourth in the three other tournaments it attended in the 1990’s.

The 1991/92 season saw the Alderney Nomads claim the club’s first league title when winning the Railway league, whilst Northerners claimed the Priaulx league for a third consecutive season and Sylvans won 5 trophies, which was a glimpse into the future for the club.

The 1992/93 season was the GFA’s Centenary, but unfortunately the season was marred not only by a referees strike but also with the suspension of a minis players for three matches, which caused some controversy for the draconian manner in which the referee had officiated the game.

1993/94 saw the promise of previous seasons realised for Sylvans as the Priaulx trophy went to the west of the island for the first time. Consecutive titles were secured the following season, which is notable for being when Rovers were given permission to build a new clubhouse at Port Soif.

During the 1994/95 season, Matthew Le Tissier won his first cap for England, but this great achievement created much debate back in Guernsey after it was proposed that he be given Honorary Life Membership of the Association. The matter was debated for several months before the Minutes from a Council meeting in November 1994 record that after a vote:

“The President therefore declared the proposition carried and Council confirmed Matthew Le Tissier as an Honorary Life Member of the Guernsey Football Association.”

Having again retained the Priaulx trophy at the end of the 1994/95 season, Sylvans caused some tension with the GFA when breaching protocol by involving players selected to represent Guernsey in an inter-club friendly only seven days before the Muratti. It was this situation, which led to the ‘seven day’ rule being introduced formally.

The 1995/96 season was another landmark in the history of Sylvans when winning its first Upton trophy. It was in this same season that the concept of a Channel Islands league became a focal point of the GFA, with the Secretary preparing a proposal that would be discussed over many months between the Guernsey and Jersey Associations until by the end of the 1996/97 season the proposal was withdrawn after an impasse between the Association’s had been reached.

The 1996/97 season is recognised for including the introduction of the Women’s Muratti to the inter-insular programme, with Guernsey proceeding to win the first five matches. Inter-insular football caused some controversy that same season when Guernsey won the Under 21 Muratti after a penalty shoot-out. A short time after the match had been played, the Jersey manager claimed that:

“the rules of the Under 21 competition had not ben adhered to – this meant that Guernsey had accepted the trophy by default. If the Inter Insular Committee was not prepared to act as per the constitution, he wished to request an independent inquiry into the whole affair.”

Despite this protest, the result was to remain, being one of the Guernsey’s eighteen victories in this annual fixture.

The 1996/97 season was particularly memorable for Sylvans, when winning all seven first team trophies available to the club – the Priaulx league and six cup finals – with the GFA producing a special commemorative medal for the first team squad.

The remainder of the 1990’s was dominated by Sylvans, with the club continuing this run at the turn of the century whilst for the GFA, the end of the 20th century had a positive outlook after an agreement had been reached with Vale Recreation in 1998 to move the GFA headquarters to the Corbet Field.