Website pictures of Alderney’s ground prompted a visit for the opening game of last season, a lovely afternoon on my first visit to the Island, and having become a Vice President of the Club – what a simple and beneficial scheme – results were followed with great interest for the remainder of the season.
Forward to season 2018/19 and notice of an early double header in Guernsey, early enough to hopefully ensure that there would be no problems with flights, and a chance to see Alderney twice in as many days. A mid-morning departure from Southampton – Portsmouth FC were in the departure lounge at the same time en route for Manchester and eventually Rochdale – and arrival at a very windswept but sunny Guernsey around noon. An afternoon in St Peter Port before heading for The Track for the evening eight pm kick-off against Belgrave Wanderers. Although Guernsey has been visited on numerous occasions this was my first visit to this ground, described more than once as the “spiritual” home of Guernsey football and reaching same was not without its problems. A bus was caught from the Town with the driver promising to tell me when the appropriate stop was reached.
Unfortunately he forgot and it was one step further than planned when I alighted and walked back to the correct stop and then up the very long road from the coast road to the ground. I have never seen a pitch that was encircled by a go kart track before and the track itself was unlike anything seen on the mainland with its banking – a remnant of the old cycle track seemingly – its length, and the intricate chicanes behind one goal. A warm welcome, as a stranger, from the home officials and a seat in the stand for the game with, it must be admitted, very few fellow watchers. Belgrave Wanderers, with respect, were not as bad as their League position suggested though they were prone to giving the ball away rather frequently, and when you are struggling the last thing you need is to concede an early goal. But that was exactly what happened inside the first ten minutes as Andrew Lawrence saw a shot blocked by a defender, the follow up blocked by the same defender before the third attempt found the corner of the net. The hosts then played with ten men for five minutes after the number seven limped off before returning with the limp slightly less noticeable.
The half very much belonged to Alderney and had they not tended to overhit too many crosses the goal threat would have been greater. Lawrence was denied a second by a brilliant reflex save by the home keeper and when Belgrave forced their first corner after 42 minutes it rather summed up the half. The Wanderers did start the second half better with a decent effort from the limping number seven but they still persisted in giving the ball away and the keeper was forced to back pedal rapidly to field the ball under his bar after his own poor throw. Alderney’s speed going forward often proved too much for the home defence but a failure to look across the line caused too many attacks to founder on the offside flag. A neat second goal from John Adamson rather killed the match and the visitors were able to call upon their bench with a view to Saturday’s game but there was still time for a third, albeit in stoppage time when Marian Staite touched home a left wing cross to seal a comfortable win. With a pre-booked taxi the trip back to Town was far simpler than the outward journey on what was by that time a rather chilly evening.
Written by John Gormans