Fresh faces will bring dynamism to Green Lions
Guernsey FC boss Tony Vance says it’s time to ‘freshen things up’ as his side prepare for another campaign in the Isthmian South Central.
The Green Lions finished 15th in the division last season as an impressive post-Christmas turnaround saved them from the prospect of relegation.
Vance’s men get their 2023-24 season under way this Saturday as they welcome Westfield to Footes Lane.
‘We have a lot of youngsters who have been involved in training recently and we’ll be looking to utilise them a lot this year,’ Vance said.
Sixteen-year-old Jack Griffin featured for GFC in their recent friendly against St Martin’s, while North duo Owen Wallbridge and Jamie Smith have also been involved in Vance’s pre-season programme.
Seb Vance is expected to feature early on in the season, too, before he jets off to university in America.
‘The lads coming in will help us to play a more exciting brand of football – they bring us more dynamism, pace and sharpness.
‘We always look to play to our strengths and with more hungry, young players coming in we can embrace a fresh style this season.’
There is also set to be a change in the coaching staff this season, as long-time assistant manager Colin Fallaize prepares to take a step back from his position.
‘I’m hoping to convince Fal to stay on board and keep helping me out, but at the minute it looks like he is ready to step away a bit,’ said Vance.
‘Luckily Kevin Gilligan has agreed to fill in when Fal is unable.
‘For me I have found it quite tough coming straight back in after the Island Games, which is why I did not want to take on that role in the first place because we’ve all had to suffer that disappointment together, so having Steve Sharman coming in fresh is vital.
‘One big benefit for us of playing in the Games is that we come into the season with superior fitness levels and match sharpness compared to normal.
‘Usually we do not get the chance to properly prepare for the year in comparison to other teams, so it’s been nice having a more significant program this time.’
This year’s Isthmian South Central division features 21 teams as opposed to the typical 20, and will see GFC re-unite with a number of old friends, including Corinthian-Casuals, Hartley Wintney, Raynes Park Vale and Badshot Lea.
Also entering the league this year are Metropolitan Police, who took voluntary relegation from the Southern League Premier due to off-field challenges, as well as FA Vase champions Ascot United.
‘We’re going to be taking the first few months of the season as a bit of a free hit while we try to work out where we’re at compared to the other sides in the league,’ Vance said.
‘There are a lot of new teams and as usual there has been a great deal of transfer activity throughout the division – hopefully by Christmas we will be able to make a more accurate judgement call.
‘First and foremost our aim is to avoid relegation.
‘We want to try and do that a bit earlier this year, and hopefully we can do that using our youngsters.
‘It’s nice starting the season at home, and Westfield will be a good initial test for us.’