Rovers need act of kindness
Saturday 25th August 2012, 2:30PM BST.
LIKE many things in sport, it just does not add up. How can a football club be so good at attracting and developing young footballers up to the age of 16, and at the same time be so consistently and miserably average at first-team level?
This is how we again find things down Port Soif way and, with the start of the Priaulx League campaign but nine days away, I find myself fearing the worst for my old club.
It was 38 years ago on 31 August that John Brehaut, Dave Le Jean, me and eight others, trotted out from the old corrugated clubhouse on the north-west corner of Port Soif to play Rangers in the club’s debut Priaulx match.
Harold Allen’s Rangers were kind enough to provide a guard of honour to the league’s eighth and newest side only a few weeks after the GFA had bent over and kindly allowed an average-to-good Jackson League team to play in the top flight without winning the ‘second team’ league.
As now, Rovers had the respect of its peers for years of solid service within the GFA, a decent junior set-up and, crucially, its own ground.
‘Let them in’ was the verdict and I don’t recall anyone moaning.
Nearly four full decades on it hurts to say this, but would the League Management Committee, now responsible for the operation of the GFA leagues, be equally kind as the GFA were in 1974 and usher Rovers out of the top flight and back into the Jackson – for their own temporary good,
There have been periods, long ones at that, over the club’s Priaulx League history, when the ‘blues’ have been poor, but never can they have been as weak as they were in losing 2-0 to Centrals in the Rawlinson Cup last weekend.
I feel I am not exaggerating in saying that Media United, largely made up by colleagues at the Guernsey Press, would have beaten Rovers last Sunday, a side clearly not worthy of playing in Guernsey’s top flight – nowhere near it in fact.
This should not only be a concern to those running the show at Port Soif, but also to everyone involved in the game because, on the evidence of last weekend Rovers could very quickly become an embarrassment to themselves, but also the Priaulx League as a whole this coming winter.
From this chair, Rovers may have made the wrong decision to answer a shortage of senior players by dropping their Jackson side. It posisbly should have been the Priaulx, and at least one GFA club president bent my ear this week to make just that point.
From what I hear I very much doubt whether the LMC will act for the benefit of football and Rovers’ long-term good, by asking the club to review its decision, but unless someone with magical gifts arrives to transform Rovers in the next few weeks, we could be in for a messy campaign in which a good deal of damage could be done to the lasting image of the basement team and the old league.
The crazy fact that Priaulx clubs will now be playing each other four times this winter just adds to my concerns for my old team.
Asking Rovers to stand down for one season or until they guarantee being a competitive outfit once again, should not be seen as vindictive and opportunistic, but as an act of kindness to all.
ROVERS are not the only side in for a tough time this winter. Seeing Rangers swept aside by Bels a week ago suggests to me that sixth place and a long, long winter beckons for Paul Ockleford’s men too.
But before anyone posts a blog ridiculously blaming the combined plight of Rovers and Rangers on the presence of Guernsey FC, let me suggest that the damage is being self-inflicted by an association which simply is getting no nearer to answering the riddle of how to stop the drain of unchallenged players slipping out of the game altogether at 18, or into the social leagues.
I hear the LMC have made no progress in their quest to bring the social leagues back under the wing of the GFA and it seems to me that never before has there been such a dispiriting two-tier, them and us, situation in island football.
In 2012, it’s wonderful to be a Priaulx player with as much football as you could possibly want and the added carrot of a possible breakthrough into the Green Lions set-up, but if you are out of the juniors and not good enough for your first team you might get a game once in a blue moon.
It’s a depressing landscape that is shoving GFA footballers, young and not so old, towards the exit door.
AFTER the above and weeks of critique over the current domestic cricket scene, you might be wondering ‘is there nothing in island sport that makes this bloke happy?’
Well, there is actually.
Here are just 10 reasons to be cheerful this week.
1 – The Guernsey FC juggernaut rolls on.
2 – Guernsey rugby have made big signings ahead of its new campaign.
3 – A 17-year-old Guernsey batsman, Olly Nightingale, made a superb century against visiting Sussex this week.
4 – Some brilliant bowls were played by Lucy Beere, Anne Simon, Matt Le Ber and Gary Pitschou last weekend.
5 – The Horse of the Year Show boasts record entries and highlights just how far competitive showjumping and its facilities have come in recent times.
6 – Two very talented girl golfers – Aimee Ponte and Abi Howard – are lining up for the island juniors team against Jersey this weekend.
7 – Guernsey has three cricket teams out of four in the CI Championship semi-finals and my money is on an all-Sarnian final between ORs and Cobo Tigers.
8 – Guernsey athletics has unearthed a highly-promising girl javelin thrower in Zoe Fitch who just missed out on a medal at last weekend’s England Championships.
9 – Dear Wally Chick – Mr Rovers – got the send-off he and his surviving family, so deserved.
And 10 – Mick King, 71, has discovered the secret of eternal golfing life.