Old Mickey Mouse is now the one laughing
Saturday 8th September 2012, 2:30PM BST.
IF EVER there was a time to shut the main administrative players in Guernsey football in one room and tell them they aren’t coming out again until they have concocted a satisfactory blueprint for the island game, it is now.
Beneath the innovative, expertly run and so far rampant Guernsey FC, our football is stumbling around in a bit of a daze, not knowing which way to go.
The GFA is losing senior players, it seems, at an alarming rate, and while there are approximately 300-plus of them kicking about in the social leagues who could markedly improve the Priaulx and Jackson League product, the player-starved senior GFA clubs cannot touch them.
The current situation serves nobody well, especially the GFA, whose attempt to take a grip on the social leagues five years ago, has unfortunately and spectacularly backfired.
In 2007, it was a well-meaning attempt by the GFA to put the main umbrella body firmly back in pole position by insisting that no person could play for more than one club.
The GFA did not know exactly how many players were available, so opted to find out by the one-player, one-club rule.
I supported the tactic. It would put in place the ‘Mickey Mouse’ leagues, I argued.
Well. The GFA were wrong. I was wrong and Mickey Mouse is laughing, happy with his lot and seemingly intent to stay free and easy away from the clutches of the umbrella body and, now, the League Management Committee which now runs the senior leagues.
In an island becoming more carefree and free-spirited by the school generation, a large proportion of the players have simply turned their back on the GFA to whom they feel no obligation.
Well, it seems, the GFA/LMC now have little choice but for the short and long term good of the game, do everything possible to get those social players back in their fold.
It’s either that or reduce the Priaulx League by a couple of clubs and perhaps see other clubs join Rovers on the Jackson League sidelines, as there are plainly not enough senior players to go around.
There is a solution, of course.
But for a solution to be reached there needs to be real goodwill on all sides and absolute persistence to get to an agreement which will allow all aspects of the game to move on.
Hence, the suggestion of a weekend summit where nobody is released until agreement is reached.
This week’s sports correspondence included a desperate call from an island footballing stalwart who, in his own words, has ‘grave concerns for the game locally’.
‘Can you let me know the following,’ he requested:
1. The number of senior players registered with the GFA over the past five years. On a year-by-year basis?
2. The number of junior players registered with the GFA at under 16 and 18 over the past five years. On a year-by-year basis?
3. Number of players registered in the social leagues over the same period?
4. What ‘carrot’ was dangled in front of the social leagues to get them into the fold of Guernsey Football?
5. What concerns have the social league with the GFA?
6. How does Jersey manage to get their players involved in social leagues and JFA – e.g. do they have to pay subs to play in both competitions?
Well, the sports department have tried to get some of those answers over the past few days and won’t give up until it does.
COMMITMENT, or lack of it, may be a problem in the big team sports.
But you won’t find much evidence of it lacking around the pits of Le Val des Terres or, like today at Vazon, that stages the final sprint meeting of the summer.
Our motorsport has been brilliant this year, culminating in a wonderful final hillclimb which saw seven drivers go sub-30sec., new all-time local men’s and women’s records, and the fastest bike performance ever.
These are sports people who really DO take their sport seriously.
They are prepared virtually to bankrupt themselves to lop a split-second off their PBs.
They spend days under bonnets tweaking this, switching that, risking not only their livelihoods but also their very lives.
I silently cheered when one unnamed driver who had spend £800 on a new set of rubber last Saturday, broke his class record.
Long before the end of a meeting which yielded records every half hour on average, I was thinking to myself, just how much money the combined entry of 143 competitors had forked out to sustain their 2012 season?
It probably ranks at somewhere around the £500,000 mark, perhaps much more.
My only hope now is that the sustained excellence of our top racers is highlighted when the end of the year sports awards are handed out.
LOSING last weekend’s Marlborough Trophy cricket inter-insular was no great surprise in the sports room here.
Only the humiliating margin of defeat raised eyebrows.
But it’s gone. Done and dusted. Time to move on.
It’s what’s next that is important and part of that process will, I expect, be the hiring of a full-time senior island coach to get the best out of our senior players.
The Guernsey Cricket Board are in the thick of a thorough review of its workings, competitions and representative structure, and in so doing they have to impose a new set of standards, ones which befit an international team and, which demands the sort of commitment we are getting from our leading footballers and rugby men.
There may be casualties, i.e. players who don’t want to commit the time, but for the long-term good of the sport it will be worth it.
What we can’t continue to have is a now half-baked evening league, soft weekend cricket and an under-prepared senior team which, for a variety of reasons, Guernsey were as they rocked up at Grainville.