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 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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GUERNSEY'S FIXTURE RUN-IN
Raynes Park Vale
Chessington & Hook Utd
Colliers Wood Utd
Epsom & Ewell
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
In a league of his own: Allen has a better strike rate than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE
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
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
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
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!