Guernsey vs Knaphill
6 August 2011
Guernsey 5 Knaphill 0
Combined Counties League, Division One
Attendance : 1,475

In the past, the Combined Counties Football League has demonstrated that it is not averse to making adventurous decisions by virtue of its admission of the short-lived Withdean 2000, and the far more successful AFC Wimbledon to its ranks. Now the League has taken this a step further by welcoming Guernsey FC on board and it’s fair to say that the prospect of regular competitive football, albeit at Step 6 of the non-League pyramid for the time-being at least, has really captured the imagination of the Island.

With only the biannual Island Games [Guernsey were narrowly beaten by the Isle Of Wight this year], and the traditional Muratti Vase to compete for previously, a near 1,500 crowd filled the Island’s Garenne Stadium for the new club’s inaugural League fixture against Knaphill.

It is important to stress that this is indeed a brand new club; whilst the Guernsey FA Representative side competes in the Island Games, that was not sufficient for membership of the CCL and thus Guernsey FC was founded earlier this year. Not only are Guernsey having to meet their own considerable travel and accommodation costs, they are also meeting those of their opponents as well and Knaphill were not short of complements about the organisation of their trip by a local Guernsey travel agent, and hospitality extended by the home club.

With a record attendance of just 134 and an average gate of around 50, this was indeed quite an occasion for the visiting Knaphill side but before kick-off they were quietly optimistic that they might upset the long odds laid on the home side, also fancied to clinch promotion at the first attempt by many pundits.

Any such illusions were quickly dismissed in a nightmare first half that saw Knaphill concede five goals, to the delight of the home crowd [“Can we play you every week”] albeit not helped by at least two defensive howlers that undermined a performance by the visitors that was nowhere near five goals inferior. Some pride was restored in the second forty-five minutes although Guernsey took their foot off the gas somewhat and continued to control proceedings, rattling the crossbar late on.

Top of the table on Goal Difference after one match, Guernsey’s promotion odds will no doubt have shortened further, but the acid test will be how they adjust to playing in front of tiny crowds on uneven pitches in mid-December, when few of the 1,475 who watched this game are likely to be in attendance. As for Knaphill, they are a much better side than the final scoreline suggests and may well be in the shake-up themselves come next Spring.
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