Wednesday 12 March 2014

Alderney prepare for Muratti visit of weakened Guersney

A weakened Guernsey team travel to Alderney on Saturday for the annual Muratti semi-final.
The sides last met in the 2012 semi final

Steve Sharman’s visitors, who have won the last 2 finals against Jersey, have named 6 players from club side Guernsey FC including Angus Mackay who will captain the team.

8 members of the squad are uncapped including 5 from Priaulx League side North. Striker Craig Young scored also plays at North and scored in last year’s final as well as the previous meeting with Alderney in 2012 which ended up 7-0 to the  visitors.

Simon Geall also scored in that Muratti semi-final trouncing and will feature on Saturday. Aside from the Muratti Guernsey have played little representative football since Guernsey FC were formed in 2011.

A side far from full strength lost out to both Jersey and the Isle of Man at the FA International Shield in Gibraltar in June 2012 a year after losing in the final of the Island Games on the Isle of Wight.

The club side, currently chasing promotion from the Ryman Division One South (8th tier) in England, have left the representative side in second place in terms of footballing priority with large crowds watching the islands best players week in week out.

On the other hand their hosts have, somewhat surprisingly, become active in the non-FIFA scene ever since hosting Sealand in August 2012.

Last year the squad travelled to the Isle of Man for the Tywnald Hill Tournament and were competitive in a group containing club side hosts St Johns United and N.F.-Board members Raetia.

Having narrowly lost 3-2 to the Swiss side they then fell to a 2-1 defeat to the Sealanders in the 5th-place match. The island play as a club in the Guernsey 2nd-tier and warmed up nicely for the Muratti with a 6-1 win over Centrals last weekend.

Alderney at the Tynwald
Alderney lost last year’s semi 9-2 to Jersey, the first time they’d scored more than 1 goal in any game since 1961. Astonishingly they’ve won the Muratti before - a 1-0 win over Guernsey in 1920.

However their all-time record since their maiden Muratti appearance in 1907 is played 107, won 2, drawn 1 and lost 102, with the most recent of those victories coming in the 2003 Island Games.

Captain Andy Lawrence, on the subject of the weakened visiting team, told us “you could look at it as a bit disrespectful towards the Muratti but they have pumped a lot of money into GFC so I guess that is their priority now”.

He went on to say “we have a young squad which is pleasing. We are looking at the Island games in Jersey next year and hopefully we can arrange a few games against Sealand”.

All bar 3 of the Alderney squad are island-based. Defender Jason Atkins, striker Josh McCulloch and Ross Benfield all play amateur football in the UK with the latter pair studying at university.

Star player Josh Concanen plays semi-professionally in England for Tiverton Town, the same level as Guernsey FC, but was not released by his club.

After the game last year Jersey complained about having to travel to Alderney but Lawrence explained “it's crucial for the semi to stay here.  We don't have the money they have and that date is a huge part of our calendar - without it we would really struggle to survive”.

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