GFC: It’s time for some payback
Saturday 31st August 2013, 11:45AM BST.
TO HEAR some of them, you would have thought it was the end of the world.
Their team, heavily depleted by injuries and players who have temporarily retired themselves for whatever reason, were being run ragged by a decent UK side who will have headed home with probably every player a £100-plus better off for his day out on a holiday isle, plus three handy points in the bag.
But, sadly, too many GFC fans can’t see through it. They cannot see past a bare scoreline.
The start to the Ryman South season has been an eye-opener for everyone, not least because of the odd set of results.
Three superb away performances and as many home horror shows well it’s X-rated in the eyes of those who have got used a diet of goal sprees.
On the very day the club run out for their historic first FA Cup match, it seems sad to be highlighting this first notable stumble by the Green Lions, especially when there will be a small element of islanders who will be rubbing their hands with glee as they read it.
But, it is as appropriate time as any to review matters, because the situation GFC suddenly find themselves in playing hotter opposition with diminishing numbers on a less than satisfactory pitch is, if not a touch worrying, a big nudge as to the pitfalls of developing a club in the horrible world of professionalism and money talks.
On the face of it, there seems no easy answer other than for all of us who want to see the team to succeed short-, mid- and long-term, to discover new levels of patience and understanding.
And why do we have to be patient?
For a start, the playing field GFC now finds itself positioned at, is not particularly even.
GFC are wholly amateur and stuck on an island 80 miles from the mainland, their opposition picking up anything up to £300 a week.
The extent of the GFC fixture list is punishing, to say the least, and the level of commitment is huge and goes far beyond just staying fit and available for selection.
You will need to forego, perhaps, more than a fortnight’s holiday and forsake a good slice of earnings.
For a few, the latter is simply too big a burden to bear, especially when it is no longer one non-stop glory trail as it was for the first two seasons.
‘The supporters need to be patient,’ said Tony Vance this week as he looked down on paper as to what team he would like to pick if injuries and side-commitments were not the issue they are.
‘They [the supporters] have had two years of fun, but this year is going to be a challenging one,’ he added.
‘I am not being negative, just realistic.’ And so he is.
But what to do?
He argues that the only chance of being able to call on the ’6 players he would like on a weekly basis, is if they were not being hammered in the pocket, which is particularly the case for the self-employed.
‘Give us the best 16 and we will get promoted,’ is the theme of his argument and it is one I would not argue with.
It is clear that for the bandwagon to keep rolling forward and up another league or two, the club income cannot go solely on travel and the expenses of the opposition, where most of it currently goes.
If they are playing at a semi-professional level then they must be recognised as such themselves.
Of course, the mere thought of that will send shudders down the spine of many and will not sit well.
But, think about it, and it is the only way to ensure our very best are fully committed and not, as some I fancy are, toying with, playing only when it suits them, not the cause.
This need not mean that each time they step off the plane, every member of the squad, and coaching team, physio et al, is handed a brown envelope stuffed with tenners, but some recognition of their commitment, which is above the norm of their Ryman South peers, is required.
If that means covering £100 for the loss of a day’s work, then so be it.
Inside Sport understands GFC players already receive a number of perks, mainly substantial discounts at stores/restaurants, but it will not be enough to keep everyone happy, and while the player may be content enough, their partner may not be.
That semi-professional approach, quite obviously, will probably not be welcomed by the club treasurer and, perhaps, by some of its sponsors.
But, unless the island can suddenly pull in exciting new talent at a rate never previously experienced, is there an alternative?
Plainly, GFC needs its best players to be available to flourish at this level.
And if they don’t flourish…?
For now, the crowds are holding well.
The Redhill game pulled in another 1,200-plus, but another three or four losses on the bounce and no goals, will leave many a season-ticket holder opting to find something else to do with his/her Saturday afternoon.
An exciting home win or two in the coming weeks, and a Ross Allen special every now and then, will I fancy be comfortably enough to keep the customers satisfied for now.
But, longer term, you sense that some sort of momentum needs to be maintained and that may well only be achieved by going semi-professional.
Nobody at GFC ever imagined that it would always be plain-sailing. Steve Dewsnip, Mark Le Tissier and co., are too shrewd to have been sucked into the sort of thinking some regular followers clearly have.
But the current situation will be a concern to them for sure and if they have not given it serious thought yet, they need to soon consider all their options.
I, for one, wish them luck, and I am sure the vast majority of islanders do too. Patience is the order of the day for now and we should all remember that merely surviving at this level will make our footballers better players and too good for Jersey. The Priaulx League won’t.