What a weekend, having spent Saturday at Burton Albion’s ground with my daughter I was on Sunday seated and awaiting Guernseys last Isthmian league home game of the season in the sunshine with a friend.
Guernsey Football club were formed in 2011 as a community club that would represent the island in the English pyramid football system. This was a bold move by the local Football Association in that it could have disrupted the islands own local league and still today has its distractors. It has however been a success and the club initially being members of the Combined Counties League have progressed to the Isthmian League Division One South-Central.
The pioneering of Guernsey has been copied by Jersey who look like just missing out on promotion from the Hampshire League this season and The Isle of Mann who play in the North West Counties League. The island teams have to pay for the visitors return journeys but there were fans there as well that hopefully add to the tourist industries income.
Guernsey play their games at the Footes Lane Stadium, St Peter Port, the home of Guernsey RFC who are also well versed with playing in the English rugby system.
We arrived at the ground in glorious sunshine and parked in the local sixth form college.
This modern stadium is also home to local athletics and will be used as the centre for the Bi-annual Island games to be hosted by Guernsey this year. Along with Guernsey F.C’s mascot Roary there was the Puffin mascot, Jet, for the upcoming Games.
The afternoon was glorious and the pitch looked flat and in great condition considering that it has been shared all season with the rugby club. You had to look hard to see where the rugby pitch markings had been painted over. The 5000 capacity is open on three sides but with a modern covered stand seating 720 and it was here that most people were sat. There were a few Basingstoke fans behind the goal who changed ends at half time as part of the crowd of 859.
Basingstoke as a club have been established since 1896 since a merger of two teams and have been as high as the National League South but were relegated in 2016 and further relegation sees them where they sit today. However they have a good chance to climb back up the ladder this season.
The six lane running track surprisingly did not detract from the view of the game and we settled down for the game with Guernsey already safe from relegation and Basingstoke wanting to maintain their push for promotion.
Guernsey F.C. 2 Basingstoke Town 3
Sunday 16th April 2023 14.00pm Kick Off
Footes Lane Stadium, St Peterport, Guernsey. Isthmian League Division 1 South-Central
15th v 2nd The Green Lions v The Dragons
The game had hardly started when in five minutes Dandre Brown collected the ball in the middle of the pitch and set of on a run that saw him past three home team defenders and hit the ball to the right of the keeper going into the net off the post.
Guernsey were all at sea and looked as if they were already ‘on the beach’ but Ross Allen making his three hundredth appearance for the home side did well to get the ball beyond the Basingstoke defenders and from the right made a pin point low cross for Sam Murry to tap in for the equaliser.
Basingstoke continued their superiority and after some fine saves by the Guernsey keeper they scored again on 25 minutes when Paul Hodges crossed from the right and Bradley Wilson dispatched it through a group of defenders to restore their lead. which they held with ease until half time.
Guernsey did put up a better fight in the second half and were rewarded when their hero Ross Allen scored his 284th goal for the club after 65 minutes. The fight back though was only temporary when four minutes later Paul Hodges restored Basingstoke’s lead by lobbing the goalkeeper and finding the back of the net. There was a hint of offside in the goal which did not endear the referee to the home fans who had made a few ironic cheers when decisions went their way.
Basingstoke held on to be set for a last day of the season must win game and hope that their rivals drop points. Guernsey will wrap up their season with some joy having made a very poor start to the season that looked at one time like a weary relegation fight was going to ensue.
No chips at the stadium but an enjoyable end of season game and a great few days on the Island with friends.