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Guernsey v Dover Athletic (played at Lancing)

Guernsey 2 Dover Athletic 3

Why do we go to watch games of other clubs?  Why travel 250 miles in a day to watch a game where the crowd is just a few hundred?

Why, when two of us are Arsenal season ticket holders, and the third comes along to Arsenal when work and other commitments allow, do travel elsewhere?

The answer is because it is enjoyable – and because it is a reminder that the vast majority of football in this country is not played in glorious stadia with crowds of 60,000 watching the best footballers on the planet.  The journey – even long journeys in the car like this one, which involved getting stuck in an awful traffic jam on the M25 – pass easily with chat, stories, insights, exchange of ideas, and we return to the real world.

And in the case of Guernsey there’s something special that’s an extra.

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Emma, one of our little band of three, is a Guernsey woman.  My association with the island (its a Crown Territory in the Atlantic off the coast of western France, part of the Channel Islands, in case you don’t know it) comes from my mother’s side of the family.  She was evacuated in 1939 just prior to the invasion.  I feel an affinity.

As for Drew, well he’s a historian, and he likes football – although unfortunately work commitments meant he couldn’t make this game.  But he’s joined in supporting Guernsey as well.

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So we drove, we got stuck in traffic, we arrived late, and found that Guernsey were 2-0 down to a team that is some 70 odd places higher up the league pyramid that Guernsey.  And still we didn’t fuss or fret or stamp feet or moan.   This whole thing gives a new perspective on life.

They were also a much, much bigger team than Guernsey, and I mean that physically.  But then given that the island has a population of 65,000, some of whom are old and about half of whom are female, makes it hard to pick a competitive team at all.

But until about three years ago, they didn’t pick one team, they had about half a dozen, all playing each other.  Then Guernsey FC was created, and now, at games like this one, the visiting support who have had to travel by plane or ferry, greatly outnumbers the home support.

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Indeed the game should have been played on the island, but the match clashed with a rugby fixture in the same stadium, Hastings refused a change of time (citing difficulty in getting a plane (which Guernsey FC have to pay for) back, and so the match was played on neutral territory.  Lancing.  In Sussex.  It’s near the sea.

As I say, Guernsey were 2-0 down when we got there, but in the second half pulled two goals back, only to let in a third near the end, and so exit the FA Cup.

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But we cheered the penalty they scored with aplomb and the counter attacking breakaways, which were they main tactic.  At the end, the players came across to the Guernsey support and applauded.

In fact I suspect they all know each other.

There was even one amusing incident.  There was netting behind the goal in order to stop footballs flying into the gardens of the houses behind.  Unfortunately the netting was a bit torn so one off target shot did get stopped by the netting, but then got caught therein.

 

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Repeated attempts by valiant Guernsey men failed to dislodge it.

One of the more bizarre things that you find with a Guernsey fixture is that everyone does know everyone.  We stood next to a guy who knew everyone that Emma knew, down to details of who went to work where and when, who had left the island and so on.

It is, as I say, a different kind of experience.

 

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And so to the journey home.   The car, parked across the road in the local shopping centre (the GP practice car park being full by the time we arrived) was all safe and sound, and we drove back, listening (naturally) to Arsenal at Swansea – my commentary on the way Talk Sprot treated the incident with our keeper has already been published.

I think I got back about 9pm, in time to watch the Arsenal game on Sky, and that was a pleasure too.

I’m sad Guernsey lost, but I am glad that after so many years Guernsey is able to enter the FA Cup and look forward to next year.   Meanwhile this year we have been to Corby Town, Grantham, Cambridge and now Lancing.  On the menu for future trips will be some other local clubs (Wellingborough, Kettering and Northampton) plus I really would like to take in Coventry (now playing at Northampton’s ground).

As something to do on a saturday afternoon, I’d recommend it.  Believe me, its better than sitting at home and it does serve to remind us what football is about at all its levels.

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11 comments to Guernsey v Dover Athletic (played at Lancing)

  • top Goooner

    Tony any where i can have tweets for our youth game with napoli.

  • nicky

    To avoid the possibility of people trying to find Guernsey by boat or air (and searching the Atlantic fruitlessly) I should explain that the Island is in fact in the English Channel, just west of the Cherbourg peninsula.
    It is a Crown Dependency.
    If Emma left the Island in 1939 to escape the German Occupation, she would have been psychic indeed. The Evacuation took place in June 1940.

  • blacksheep63

    Nicky, if you read what Tony wrote he said his mother (not Emma) left the Island in 1939, BEFORE the invasion. Funnily enough some people can think ahead

  • WalterBroeckx

    I was just wondering the person with the flag around his body was that a Guernsey flag? Or Dover?

    Thanks for the write up.

    Just went to see my local team the other night. They had a new light installation and played the first floodlight game for …well… I think it must have been 20 years or so. We won 5-1. Having won last saturday with 0-5 away from home. So 10 goals in 2 games. In the 7 games before we scored…2 (yes two) goals. So we have seen the light one could say 😉

  • nicky

    Walter,
    It was indeed the Guernsey Flag.
    For many years the Island flag was identical to that of England, i.e. St George’s Cross on a white background.
    In 1985, with permission of Her Maj. a gold cross was added in the centre of the St George’s cross, in order to provide the Island with a separate flag of its own.
    This “inner” cross originated, as depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry, on the masthead of William the Conqueror’s command ship en route to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. At that time, the Islands were part of William’s Normandy so
    the adaptation of the cross was therefore considered to be a simple but relevant act to create a separate identity.
    I hope, Walter, you have absorbed all this info because I will be asking questions later.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Oh Nicky, please give me enough time to study then 😉

    The only connection I have with the Channels islands is that when I was a kid I grew up next to Antwerp Airport. A rather small airport but it had a few daily flights to London. Living 300 meters from the runway I have heard a few Boeing 737 take off and land as a kid. When the wind came from the airport you could even smell the kerosene once they had taken off. I loved it.
    Back to the Channel islands because apart from some daily flights to London they also had regular flights to the Channels Islands for a long period in time. And as a kid the name Channels Islands made me dream of pirates who attacked other ships and stormed the castle on the islands. So whenever I hear the name mention…I remember those childish thoughts.

    Funny now but I don’t remember to which island they actually flew….

  • Mandy Dodd

    Great place is Guernsey, some of the most stunning beaches and walks I have encountered. Herm pretty amazing as well. And a bit of recent footballing history – any Le Tissiers in the current team?

  • nicky

    @ Walter,
    Boeings would only have been able to land at our noisy, southern neighbour, Jersey.

    @ Mandy Dodd,
    Having supported dear old Arsenal since the mid 1930’s, I cannot create any interest in local football. Tony would know more about the current team!
    You pay a true tribute to the beauty of the islands of the Bailiwick of Guernsey.
    Nearly six years away from the Island during WW2 was enough for me.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Can see how such an absence would be Nicky. Really is a beautiful place, Petit Port in the first half of the day, Cobo as you get to sunset, a perfect day! Was there only a month and a bit ago!

  • nicky

    @Mandy Dodd,
    On your next visit, go to my old stamping ground Delancey Park, on a clear day (with binoculars). Stand on an old German Bunker and enjoy a panoramic view of Alderney, France, Herm, Jethou, Sark and Jersey and all points in between….all free!

  • Mandy Dodd

    Thanks Nicky, have never been to that park, will certainly pay a visit