Tag Archives: Guernsey FC

News Round Up 17/7/11 – Sutton, Guernsey

No match report for the Sutton game, as it falls into the category of Games I Attempted To Get To But Bailed En-Route, joining that time we got a puncture on the way to Coventry, that time signal faults just outside Waterloo prevented me reaching Luton, that time I got soaked by a freak shower between my house and Kingston station causing me to miss Wallingford (it really was a downpour…), and a Ryman game lost to the mists of an alcohol heavy period of my life when I decided I was just having too much of a good time in the Kingston Tup so stayed all afternoon.

This time round it was a minor plumbing emergency (so minor in fact, I managed to fix it myself, which really is saying something…), but it sounds as though I didn’t miss much… Still, in this years contracted pre-season every minute on the field counts. I know this is a constant moan of mine but the crowd yesterday of 772 was pretty poor for a game in our backyard, and can £10 for a PSF really be justified for what is in effect a training exercise?

This isn’t a moan targeted at Sutton (or even Staines…), we charge the same… the thing is people are always looking for local games at this time of year, if we set entry for Watford at £6/£7 for terraces we would attract many more through the turnstiles and benefit commercially from a larger crowd? Of course, on arranging these games any profit share agreement would mean we would have had some kind of input on yesterday’s admission, as Watford will next Saturday, so it’s probably not that simple…

As one door closes another opens, and I have found now that I can make it to Bedfont on Thursday after all, so I won’t be missing anything after all (hopefully I’ll see a few more goals, although Bedfont might have something to say about that…). Talking about goals, the development squad were involved in a goalsome encounter in Guernsey… winning out 6-5 in the Channel Islanders first fixture. It sounds as though there was a decent attendance in four figures, which shows the potential of the club, although you would expect once the initial novelty wears off attendances will settle down, more people will turn up given a couple of promotions and better standard of football.

While at least one Dons squad have travelled overseas for a game, I find myself looking enviously across the pond as Oxford are currently on tour in New England, including a couple of games in New Hampshire itself. Naturally with my in-laws in the area seeing the Dons embark on such a trip would be pretty much a dream for me. I’m not sure where the finances for that sort of trip would come from though… even if a sponsor of benefactor came in, you have to wonder whether costs would be better off spent elsewhere. I’ll put that idea on hold until I have made my personal fortune…

Finally, the captaincy poll… I kind of bodged that big time by not including either Brett Johnson or Gareth Gwillim, two contenders mentioned by TB at MTM. For what its worth Jamie Stuart ran away with it with 48% of the voting, with those looking for BJ or GG presumably voting for ‘Someone Else’ (28%), yet with numbers down on previous polls there is always the possibility those not seeing their preferred choice simply didn’t vote. Not that it really matters, as there is only one man whose vote really counts, and that is TB, I’m sure we’ll find out in the build up to Crawley and Bristol Rovers who he has decided to go for.

The poll is now closed by the way, but there’ll be another one in the build up to the Bristol Rovers game. Next week the Dons travel to Beckenham on Tuesday and Bedfont on Thursday, presumably we will see a mixture of first team and development at both, before the Watford game on Saturday signals the start of the run in to competitive football…

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Back To Where It All Began

If someone had suggested to me back on that glorious night, 10th July 2002 at Gander Green Lane, as our new Dons played out a 0-4 defeat to Sutton United that we would go on and gain promotion to the Football League within nine years… well if asked two days before or a couple of weeks later I might have suggested this sort of timescale as overambitious, but on that glorious night anything seemed possible for AFC Wimbledon. In fact I might have been a bit disappointed we couldn’t do it in seven. Or even five…

Maybe your memories have faded nine years on, but AFC Wimbledon kicking a ball in anger for the first time was perhaps the most euphoric occasion I’ve ever experienced as a football supporter. Eastlands might just have trumped it, but for entirely different reasons… simply watching our new side take the field seemed pretty miraculous at the time, like having taken this one leap of faith everything else would fall into place without too much effort.

We quickly found out how hard it would be, the sheer effort required to propel us up the pyramid, but that night will live long in the memory of all of us there that night (and hundreds more around the world who weren’t…), and it seems apt we revisit Sutton in preparation for our first season back in the League. I can’t imagine what they must have been expecting on the night, by all accounts they needed a little convincing until agreeing to host the fixture, and thankful they did… the occasion wouldn’t have been quite the same had it been hosted by Leatherhead or Windsor, no disrespect intended.

I think back then the presumption was we would face Sutton some point down the line in a competitive League fixture, but like Kingstonian and Woking we somehow avoided each other as our promotions coincided with relegation for the U’s. Of course, we did defeat them in a memorable Surrey Senior Cup semi-final, a competition that for one season only was elevated well beyond its natural level of interest by success hungry Dons fans. Sutton have become something of a Home For Unwanted Dons of late, with the likes of Goodliffe, Davis, Adjei and Jay Conroy finding themselves in a Sutton shirt.

From a Dons perspective, each game this pre-season has felt a lot more valuable as there aren’t as many of them as usual… I know I can’t attend the two midweek games this week, but those two fixtures alone account for almost a third of our schedule. In case you had forgotten, the season kicks off just two weeks today – last night saw the annual Meet The Manager night, which I missed, but fortunately you can read an extensive write-up elsewhere

One of the reasons this preview was published tonight and not last night (as was my aim) is because I was waiting for some news to come out of the camp, as yet none is forthcoming with the exception of what was reported earlier in the local Guardian, that Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz looks like he might have done enough to earn a deal, providing Jack Turner can find a club (the Herald hinted yesterday that Hayes were showing interest, and if he could pull that off a season in the BSN would do him the world of good, particularly as the likelihood is he’ll be worked a little harder than he has been on his two Dons Conference appearances…

At the other end of the field, any lingering hopes Dons fans might have had that Alan Connell could be tempted to the club were extinguished when Swindon signed him for a reported six figure fee. When you consider that this means, making a few presumptions on a couple of the fees, the best part of a quarter of a million pounds has been splashed on three non-league strikers by teams in our division (Kedwell, Birchall, Connell), it really shows what we are up against financially.

Moving full circle, another side entering the Combined Counties League with ambitions to move up the pyramid take on Marcus Gayle’s development squad tomorrow at their Footes Lane stadium, and there seems to be some real excitement building over the islands debut in the pyramid. Good luck to them, and as Channel Online TV seem to be all over the story, there is a fair chance we might see some goal action of this game come Sunday morning…

LATE UPDATE

The O/S update came in half an hour after mine, obviously been watching Tour de France coverage, like any good sprinter locking on to a wheel before springing out last-minute and grabbing the glory…

Anyway, Szymon Sidorowicz and Baz Savage have moved on after failing to earn contracts, the most interesting news being TB has earmarked a couple of strikers ‘for the future’. So it looks as though we will start the season with what we have, and in terms of bringing in a Kedwell replacement its a case of playing the waiting game…

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News Round-Up 26/6/11 – Friendly Fires

The thing is, I already knew I would be missing the game on 9th July, whoever we were playing. One of my friends decided to get married that day, the knowledge that at kick off time I would be elsewhere, directing people to their seats, my first and last piece of stewarding for the foreseeable future…

So forgive me for being slightly underwhelmed at the news Fulham are coming to town. In all other respects it’s a decent first game. Obviously the commercial aspects of playing a Premier League side with a large local fanbase has been slightly undermined by Fulham’s Europa League campaign kicking off – if you were only going to watch one game in a week would you choose to pay a fiver to see your first team ease past a bunch of fishermen, or double that to see a ‘mix strength’ side face the Dons in what is effectively a training exercise?

The fact there are large pockets of Fulham fans in the area, added to the fact its our first game, means the attendance may trouble last seasons final warmup against the Arsenal kids. On the pitch, perhaps facing a full strength Fulham side wouldn’t have been entirely helpful, unless Seb requires practice at picking the ball out of the net four or five times. Fair enough, the first few games are all about fitness, and results are never that important, but there’s not too much to be learnt from playing a side that’s on a different planet to you – preseason is frustrating enough as it is, I mean it’s dressed up like football, there are eleven blokes on the field trying to knock the ball in the other teams goal, but comes nowhere near satisfying our urge for proper football to return.

I know of people who completely ignore preseason and I can understand that – if you were starving you wouldn’t hang around outside restaurants watching the diners tuck in, would you? I’m as guilty as forgetting that as the next man, even though I acknowledge it now I’ll still set myself up for a letdown prior to Sutton or whoever we are playing on the 16th.

This has been a strange, truncated summer, where through a combination of playoff euphoria, transfer speculation, and an earlier start to the season than we have been used to, the end of last season and the start of next seem to be merging together. The Dons warmup schedule seems a little lightweight as a consequence, effectively six games, with a seventh following shortly after the season begins (Tooting, and that’s if you count that weird League Cup pre-qualifier at Crawley as the start of the season…).

I’ve always wondered whether we needed to play so many games in years gone past, we may well find with six games we have reached the optimum… we would have played an extra game (as so many fellow League clubs will) had it not been for the aforementioned Crawley game. We don’t really find ourselves in a position where we need to field half a dozen trialists, we will probably see a couple in the opening games but there’s no need for us to go to the extents Charlton did last year, when they turned up a Kingsmeadow with a whole teams worth.

Elsewhere in the preseason schedule, the reserves are heading over to Guernsey to face the islands CCL side. Nine years ago the Ryman League turned our application down, with various doubters suggesting we were simply a protest club who would fade away before too long. Yet the CCL were only too glad to have us. The Guernsey experiment is slightly different to ours, being sponsor driven rather than fan power alone, yet the reasons behind forming the club seem to be based on a desire to improve the standard of football on the island rather than parachuting a club into the upper echelons of the pyramid simply for the sake of having a club.

There is obviously no guarantee the people of an island never previously considered a hotbed of football will turn out in numbers to support the new venture, it may take a few years and a few promotions before the club is even remotely viable – if it ever is. But the Guernsey people who have spent years preparing deserve their chance to test themselves in the pyramid – and once again it is the CCL who deserve credit for welcoming them onboard.

Admittedly, there is plenty in it for the CCL and its clubs – increased exposure and the chance for a free trip to Guernsey to play in front of what should be larger than normal CCL crowds. And it remains to be seen what will happen in the event of large-scale postponements. There may need to be a learning process, but the whole project is an interesting one that I’ll keep an eye on (perhaps even venture to one of their local games), and I’m glad our club could play a small part in their early development.

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