Guernsey Press

LISTEN: Ridunians left ‘gutted’ by luck of the draw

Alderney's players are ‘gutted’ that they will not compete at the Guernsey 2023 NatWest International Island Games.

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Joe Blackham has expressed his disappointment at the Alderney men's football team missing out on next year's Island Games. (Picture by David Nash, 31235345)

The island was one of three entrants, along with Western Isles and Hitra, to miss out on the men’s football competition after a random draw was required with the event having been oversubscribed.

There is a restriction on team sports to 16 because with the six days of actual competition, it is only possible to run three games in the qualifying groups, have a rest day and then have the semis and final.

Hear a full interview with Alderney's Joe Blackham on the latest Guernsey Press Football Podcast:

‘As an Alderney player you are always looking forward to building up to a Muratti semi-final or building up to an Island Games,’ said forward Joe Blackham.

‘You are always working towards one of those big events and that means a lot to you because you grow up in Alderney and it’s a huge thing, everyone comes together over it.

‘To be missing out, particularly with it being in Guernsey, it stings because it is purely luck-based, pulled out of a hat.

‘It’s our equivalent of a World Cup. It’s the highest level that any of our players will play and it means a lot to us to be able to play it in Guernsey in front of our family, our friends. It would have meant the world to me and it would have meant the world to a lot of other players too.

‘It’s such a proud moment to be able to represent your island and we’ll have players who are never able to play in an Island Games again. It’s been 20 years since Guernsey last hosted an Island Games, so it is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’ll miss it, we’ll all miss it.

‘Honestly, I’ve been dreaming about playing in front of my mum, she’d already booked to come across, so yeah it’s gutting.’

For Alderney it turned out to be the worst possible scenario because they were third reserve in the draw, which was made on Saturday with the format being approved by the IIGA and the football technical committee and was supervised by Jurat Stephen Jones.

‘It was just horrible watching all these other people put out on social media “we made it in” and almost counting down … it was just a really horrible afternoon,’ Blackham said.

‘Alderney will never have the chance to host their own Island Games, so this is as close as we come, part of the bailiwick of Guernsey etc.

‘We are based in Guernsey playing our football, we play two thirds of our games in Guernsey so Guernsey is literally more of a footballing home than Alderney is for us.

‘The fact that we travelled to Gotland in 2017 and that was five-six hours of flying and we are going to miss out on one that is literally hosted on our doorstep 10 minutes away – it’s really disappointing.

‘The whole squad feels exactly the same.’

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