Tag Archives: guernsey

Footballers"s Football Column – Ross Allen: Signing Matt Le Tissier is great but he won"t take penalties off me

ROSS ALLEN: Our fixture pile up is tough – up at 5am, fly to England at 7am, game at 3pm and back home for 9pm… and then ANOTHER match the next day!


08:25 GMT, 24 April 2013



13:13 GMT, 24 April 2013

Ross Allen

Ross Allen is a British centre forward with a better strike rate than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He has scored 53 goals in 37 games for Guernsey FC this season, but more impressive is his contribution to an incredible fixture pile-up that has seen the club in the middle of 20 games in 36 days. In his debut Footballers' Football Column he writes about that sequence, which started on April 1 and ends on May 6, and came about through postponed home matches in winter and an unlikely run to the FA Vase semi-final… Oh and a certain team-mate called Le Tissier.

Footballers Football Column: Ross Allen

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W 6-1
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W 5-1
Chessington & Hook Utd
L 2-0
Colliers Wood Utd

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Hartley Wintney

Epsom & Ewell

Farnham Town

The season started off well, we were around the top of the table. Then this FA Vase run kicked off. We knew that was a great opportunity to show what we could do on a national scale and get more publicity. We did really well but that was always a bit of a bonus and we were focusing more on the league.

Then November hit and everything just started to stall. Unfortunately our pitch just didn’t hold up against the weather. We share it with our local rugby team. It wasn’t their fault at all but the pitch just couldn’t handle it. It was underwater for the best part of two months.

Unfortunately it’s at the bottom of a low-lying part of the island and the rain just drains down there from the hills. It’s part of an athletics stadium so it’s not really been there for football in the past. We adopted it last season. It’s the best place for us and has an 800-seater stand. It’s great for the crowd. We had ten home games between November and the end of January and I think we might have had one or two of those games on with the winter being so bad.

It was a nightmare and really set us back. We didn’t get any rearranged away games. It got to the point where it didn’t look like we could make a serious bid for the title. We just didn’t know when we were going to get all these league games in. All we had was this FA Vase run, which was incredible because most of the games were drawn away.

That was fortunate because we wouldn’t have played them if they were at home. But when we started getting league games back on as the weather got better, the Vase games clashed. So we had to push more back. As we got further in the Vase we saw that as a great opportunity to do something, there was always a sniff of Wembley.

Dangerman: Ross Allen has scored 53 goals in 37 games for Guernsey

Dangerman: Ross Allen has scored 53 goals in 37 games for Guernsey

In a league of his own: Allen has a better strike rate than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

In a league of his own: Allen has a better strike rate than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

More from The Footballers' Column…

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KEVIN BETSY: It's the business end, players start falling out… You get on-loan players who just don’t care plus the ones too easily found on the treatment table

The Footballers' Football Column – Leon Osman: We will miss 'Fizzer' Neville but he'll miss us too… And why Leighton Baines is no Hank Marvin

ROB SEGAL: Footballers who come through the ranks at English clubs never get the contracts they deserve… players from overseas get more money and it makes no sense

MARTIN ALLEN: Winning titles is not all about money. City pay the big wages but it is United are at the top of the table… they have spirit, tenacity and drive and I hope my squad is similar to Fergie's in that way

KEVIN NOLAN: West Ham need big European nights at the Olympic Stadium and Big Sam is the man to deliver the dream

ROHAN RICKETTS: Footballers think they are untouchable… but the reality is life without a contract can be very tough

CRAIG ROCASTLE: There's a lot of expectation when you have my surname.. but now I'm trying to make a name for myself in the indoor league in America (as soon as I learn the rules)


We got through to the semi-finals last month, started getting a few more league games in, then the schedule came out. We were all shocked. We didn’t really know the rules but we thought they might extend the season into the middle or end of May and give us a bit more leeway. But that’s not how it turned out.

Guernsey is such an amazing place, everyone comes together as a community – you’ve got 60,000 people on your side and everything fighting for the same thing. Everyone saw it as a challenge and one we are thriving to take on.

We lost our two-legged semi-final against Spennymoor.

That was always a tough ask but we showed character, losing 4-1 on aggregate. They’ve got pedigree and we always knew we were the underdogs. For the home leg everyone rallied together to get friends, family, anyone who is interested in football down. We had a crowd of 4,290, which is huge for us. It was an amazing day, full of green all the way around the pitch. That definitely gets you buzzing.

To get to the semi-finals in only our second year of being formed is a great achievement, something we should be really proud of. It was disappointing to miss out on Wembley but we had a game two days later so we didn’t have much time to be too despondent. We bounced back with a 6-1 win.

This congested run is very hard, very tiring, but we know what we are doing. We play in the Island Games every year. The tournament is only a week so you play three games in a row, your three group games, then you have a day off, then the semi and the final. In the Isle of Wight in 2011 we played five games in six days with an 18 man squad. So we’ve done this before. We’re the best team in the country to be prepared and adapted to this kind of challenge.

We have to fly to all our away games using Aurigny Air Services. Our recent match at South Park, in Surrey, was a Friday night game, kick off at 7.45pm. We flew to Gatwick and stayed at the airport hotel. I scored two as we won 2-0. But we had a match the following evening so after staying over we woke up the next morning at 7am, for the 8.30am flight back to Guernsey.

We tried to get some rest, some food, then it was a 7.45pm kick off that evening. Then there was a 1.30pm kick off the day after that. That’s the mad one. You get home Saturday night after the game at about 11pm but have a game the next afternoon.

How do we get through it We have amazing staff who are all volunteers but committed to making sure we’re rested, getting massages, and things like that.

People have actually come to games and revealed they are qualified masseurs. They say: 'I read about your fixtures in the paper, can I offer my services' They come into the dressing room and do it for free. The boys really appreciate it. These little things are going to make all the difference, recovery is so important.

Beautiful setting: Allen enjoys living in Guernsey and says the community all comes together

Beautiful setting: Allen enjoys living in Guernsey and says the community all comes together

Lionel Messi

Cristiano Ronaldo

Simply the best: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are two of the best players in the world – but Allen has a better strike rate than both players

We’ve probably got a good 25 players signed on now. A few extra have joined us, who did play last season but for various reasons haven’t been able to commit to as much this season. They can’t go to away games because of families but are itching and raring to go for the home games.

Before each game the coaching staff ask everyone: 'Are you alright to start tomorrow night if I choose you' There will be more of that than just the manager picking the team. They don’t want to pick someone who is struggling and will have to come off early because they are knackered.

People will put their hands up if they aren’t doing well – because they will probably play the next day. We’ve got enough mature lads in our squad to know it’s a team effort – no one man will do every game, the full 90 minutes.

If it’s a weekend game we’re up at 5am in the morning for the red-eye. That’s a 7am flight. We get to England, have a bit of food, hang about at the airport. Then head up to the game for a 1pm or 3pm kick off. Then we fly back that evening and get home around 9pm. It’s a full day commitment. For people with families that’s one of their weekend days.

Out of the cup: Guernsey were beaten in the FA Vase semi-final by Spennymoor Town

Out of the cup: Guernsey were beaten in the FA Vase semi-final by Spennymoor Town

Staying put: Allen says he has no desire to leave Guernsey and play elsewhere

Staying put: Allen says he has no desire to leave Guernsey and play elsewhere

Luckily I don’t have any wife or kids. I try not to get too tied down otherwise I’ll start missing games. Everyone’s got full time jobs because none of us get paid. We’ve got a few in teaching, a lot at banks in the town, really varied. I work for an online company. It’s a bit more flexible – not just a 9 to 5. We get all travel covered thankfully.

I’ve scored more than 50 goals this year – more than 100 since we formed – but that’s my job, we play such an attacking game. Our head coach Tony Vance was a striker and that’s how he wants to play the game. It suits us really well because we’ve got pace, we get good width and I’m always getting in the box, getting the goals. My team-mates do a lot of the work.

I’m not looking to move on. I had trials for years and it was something I wanted to do when I was a little bit younger. But I’m 26 now and some people would say that’s quite old in football terms. I’m lucky this has come around – I think all our players were just playing local football back in Guernsey and that gets a bit stale, you’re playing against the same people each week. We played Jersey every year. But it’s not really enough. So it was perfect timing in my career for this to happen.

Le God: Matthew Le Tissier is life president of Guernsey

Le God: Matthew Le Tissier is life president of Guernsey

Magnificent seven: Le Tissier could pull on his football boots again for Guernsey this season

Magnificent seven: Le Tissier could pull on his football boots again for Guernsey this season

It will be good to have a rest when the season is done. It’s been a long one. We’ve got a month to go. It will be nice to have a break, maybe go on holiday – but we’ll be straight back on it in July with the FA Cup qualifiers. It will be a nice month or so that we have off.

Matt Le Tissier is our president and he comes down for a few games – but we seem to lose any he watches! It’s great to have him involved – he gives us a shout out every now and again on Soccer Saturday. He’s put us on the map a little bit but I think our football is generally doing that itself.

Matt has been re-registered to play and he warmed up with us recently, which was great. It was good to see him as he’s been so supportive since the start. You could still see his touch was there. But if he does end up playing at some point this season, he won’t be taking over my penalty taking duties!

Heather Watson aiming to stay top Brit

Looking after No 1… Ambitious Watson aiming to stay top Brit



23:23 GMT, 21 December 2012

To gain an appreciation of how Heather Watson has become such a nuggety tennis player it helps to visit her at the place where it all started.

The IMG/Nick Bollettieri Academy on Florida's Gulf Coast is a very long way from her native Guernsey, but it was here that she arrived as a 12-year-old armed with a racket bag, a few mementoes of home and dreams inside her head.

'That's where I first stayed, it's actually a classroom now but it used to house several dorms,' says Britain's No 1 as she points at a whitewashed block of buildings in the middle of the campus.

Green machine: Watson at the IMG Academy

Green machine: Watson at the IMG Academy

'It brings back a lot of good memories.' She looks almost surprised when you ask if she suffered any homesickness, but then not for nothing has the 20-year-old already acquired a reputation as one of the WTA Tour's most durable and resourceful newcomers. And it helps that her three roommates back in those days, aspiring young golfers from South Korea and America – and another called Nicola Reynolds from Guildford – turned out to be friends for life.

'It was too much fun in the dorms to be homesick and those three were great, I think they would be the bridesmaids at my wedding if I ever got married. I just found the whole thing very exciting and I can't remember anything negative about it at all.'

Watson's parents Ian and Michelle had decided that if she was to be serious about her tennis she had to leave Guernsey and head for a place with a track record of producing good players and they plumped for Bradenton.

After three years her mother came to live there part-time and she moved out of the dorms to focus more professionally. Michelle no longer travels that much with her after a request this summer from her daughter that she have a bit more space.

Bathed in year-round sunshine and with an on-site high school, the academy turned out to be a decent choice, which is why Watson heads into the new season exuding such optimism, even by her own sunny standards.

Delight: Watson after her memorable victory in Osaka in October

Delight: Watson after her memorable victory in Osaka in October

When she flies to Auckland on
Christmas night it will be as the world No 49, with a very particular
plan as to how she will build on the success of the past two seasons
that has come quicker than anyone expected.

approaches each campaign with military precision and every December
holds what might be termed an Annual General Meeting with her father,
which can last three hours and features a devastatingly honest appraisal
of the season just gone.

have to be absolutely clear about things and not hold back. It can get
quite heated although this year's took only two hours because I reached
my main target, which was to get into the world's top 50,' she says.

'For the coming season the soft target is to get into the top 30 and the ultimate one is to make the top 25. It would be great to be seeded for a Grand Slam, which sounds a lot but I believe in setting quite tough goals.'

There is also the incentive to ward off the rising challenge of Laura Robson, although she places that in a wider context. 'I would want to finish the year British No 1, not No 2, but I am focussed far more on what happens in the world rankings in general.'

Brit of all right: Watson in action at the London Olympics

Brit of all right: Watson in action at the London Olympics

Watson is currently ending her offseason training block in the company of her Colombian coach Mauricio Hadad and her fitness trainer Flo Pietzsch. On the day we meet she is practising with Alexander Sendegeya, a 16-year-old Liverpudlian based there who is trying a similar route to the top of the game.

After a festive visit from her mother Michelle, the three of them will take off for New Zealand knowing a big opportunity for ranking improvement presents itself. This is because she had a poor start to a season that ended with her becoming the first British player in 24 years to win a title on the main WTA Tour, the HP Open in Osaka.

'I went to Australia last year with half a sprained ankle that I did playing football and it was never going to be good in hindsight. The victory in Japan has really helped my confidence.'

Watson is relatively diminutive at 5ft 7in, but points out that Martina Hingis was no powerhouse either. 'The really positive thing is I've got to where I am with still so much that I can work on. I know I've got to get bigger shots and I'm using doubles to work on coming to the net, which is something I love. I know I am not that big but I have certain advantages with my speed and agility, and my mental toughness.'

Watson believes she is still three to four years off her best and will not rest until she becomes a factor more at the business end of Grand Slam tournaments.

Away from the court her ambition is to buy a flat close to Wimbledon and Roehampton's National Tennis Centre. 'London's expensive so I'm having to save up,' she says. 'I drove past those One Hyde Park apartments the other day. I might have to win a Grand Slam to afford one.

Heather Watson and Marina Erakovic win Texas Open

No doubles trouble for Watson as she takes Texas Open with Erakovic



10:56 GMT, 25 August 2012

Britain's Heather Watson captured her second WTA tour title of the summer as she and New Zealand's Marina Erakovic triumphed in the doubles at the Texas Open in Dallas.

Twenty-year-old Watson, from Guernsey, teamed up with Erakovic, 24, to win in Stanford in July, and they followed that up successfully this week.

They were resounding winners in their latest final, prevailing 6-3 6-0 inside 53 minutes against Latvian Liga Dekmeijere and American Irina Falconi.

Duo: Marina Erakovic and Heather Watson

Duo: Marina Erakovic and Heather Watson

London 2012 Olympics tennis: Laura Robson and Heather Watson through to second round

Robson sets up Sharapova clash as Watson sails through to second round in style



14:51 GMT, 30 July 2012

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Laura Robson set up a second round clash with Maria Sharapova after beating world No 23 Lucie Safarova with a gutsy display on Court 18 at Wimbledon.

The 18-year-old, roared on by a raucous crowd, raced in to a comprehensive first-set lead, but she had to dig deep after a comeback from the Czech to wrap up an impressive 7-6, (7/4) 6-4 win.

And Robson was not the only woman to make it through to round two with an impressive win, as Guernsey's Heather Watson hammered Silvia Soler Espinosa 6-2, 6-2.

Smiles better: Heather Watson celebrates her victory over Silvia Soler Espinosa

Smiles better: Heather Watson celebrates her victory over Silvia Soler Espinosa

Robson, who is ranked 73 places below Safarova, will now take on four-time grand slam champion Sharapova – who she played at SW19 last summer – in the next round.

The crowd broke in to a rendition of God Save the Queen as Robson entered court today, but the teenager afforded only a small smile as she was clearly focused on only one thing – taking her opponent apart from the off.

Robson flew out of the blocks, sending Safarova to all corners of the court before breaking when the Czech sent a forehand long.

Safarova was struggling to find her rhythm and double-faulted in the sixth game to give Robson another break.

The Briton looked poised to wrap up the first set inside 20 minutes but Safarova suddenly upped her play and Robson faltered, losing four successive games to put the set back on serve.

Robson saved another break point with an ace in the 11th to set up a tie break. Safarova drew first blood when Robson fired a backhand wide but the Londoner kept her composure to break back four times and seal the set after 51 minutes.

A much more disciplined performance from Safarova meant Robson was not allowed to start the second set as she did the first, but the Englishwoman remained calm.

Safarova engineered three break points in the eighth game but she spurned them all. The hold gave Robson more momentum and she broke when forcing the Czech to go long with a forehand.

Safarova threatened a comeback in the 10th game, but Robson saved a break point with an ace before serving out for a victory which was greeted by a standing ovation from the crowd.

Heather Watson loses in California

Elementary mistake, Watson! Brit Heather loses to world No 161 in California



00:36 GMT, 19 July 2012

British tennis No 1 Heather Watson suffered a disappointing defeat by Taiwanese qualifier Yung-Jan Chan, ranked 161 in the world, in the second round of the WTA Mercury Insurance Open in Carlsbad, California.

The 6-3, 7-6 loss ended the Guernsey 20-year-old’s promising preparations for the Olympics, where she will represent Britain in the doubles with Laura Robson.

Out of reach: Heather Watson was beaten by a qualifier in California

Out of reach: Heather Watson was beaten by a qualifier in California

Watson, ranked world No 71, claimed her first WTA Tour title last weekend as she and partner Marina Erakovic beat top seeds Vania King and Jarmila Gajdosova in the Bank of the West Classic final.

Watson’s fellow Brit Anne Keothavong went out in the first round in Carlsbad, losing 6-4, 6-0 to New Zealander Erakovic.

Heather Watson loses to Vania King

Watson hopes of first WTA Tour win dashed by King in Thailand

Heather Watson's bid to record a first WTA Tour victory in 2012 ended in disappointment after she was beaten in her opening match at the Pattaya Open.

The teenager from Guernsey, who suffered first-round defeats in Hobart and at the Australian Open, was beaten in straight sets by American Vania King.

Out: Watson (right) was beaten in Thailand

Out: Watson (right) was beaten in Thailand

A solitary break was enough to give world No 59 King the first set and two more in the second saw her emerge a 6-4 6-2 victor in one hour and 30 minutes.