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Rovers showed Rangers the way

Inside Track | Published:

RANGERS start their sixth quarter-century in Island football with a five-year plan, determined to make the most of some bright young talent, much of it currently excelling at the Gothia Cup.

Not afraid of making tough decisions: Rangers' president Guy Hardill. (25279994)

But to go forward they are taking a step back, which means withdrawing in effect their ‘Jackson’ side with the new season fast rushing towards us.

Taking a senior side out of the firing line is a brave move but in this case it surely is the right one for the island’s oldest club.

And if they want to take comfort in making that decision, they should look no further than Port Soif where not so many seasons ago a similar move worked wonders for them and was a precursor to the club’s recent triumphs.

Guy Hardill, the club’s president of just 10 months or so, has been a cool, calculating and determined new chief in sorting out many unseen backroom issues at the club.

But, as a result, the senior section is down on numbers and to try and utilise one squad across two leagues, which others have struggled to achieve in recent times, may have been highly damaging to the club who celebrated 125 years last campaign. Hardill certainly thinks so and any sensible neutral would agree.

‘As a club we have taken a tough short term decision to drop our Division One team from the 2019/20 season due to player numbers and be honest to the league system which has been raised in the media,’ said Hardill.

‘The Division One team will not simply be a pseudo Priaulx team, [but] we will be back.

‘We have also seen some senior players leave us and my understanding is they want what they perceive will be more visibility in the Guernsey game and a chance to play Muratti football.

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‘My view is every Priaulx player irrespective of club should have the opportunity to challenge for the Muratti squad, as well of course GFC players.’

Hardill added that the club have great faith in their youngsters.

‘As seen with the current Gothia squad going well in Sweden, it includes eight Rangers players who have come through a 10-year development plan led by Darren Ogier and Shane Burtenshaw which is now bearing fruit in youth football.

‘A number of these will be eligible for senior football during this coming season, however we do not want to overplay them by putting them all straight into senior football and want to allow them to continue to enjoy youth football at their respective levels.

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‘But there is no doubt, though, a number of them will challenge for Priaulx places as the season progresses.’

Hardill, who stepped in as president at short notice when Zoe Lihou stepped aside at the start of last season, says it is now the time to ‘begin a new journey across the whole club and we look forward to welcoming many new players to the Channel Islands’ oldest club’.

Rangers have also made the decision to take all their home Priaulx League games back to St Andrew’s, while still using KGV for countless other games at all levels where many of their 12 new FA level 1 coaches are working.

They have also appointed Matt Collas as a development officer working with Mike Garnett between minis and youth football, at the same time setting an ethos for the club to ensure continual development from reception through to U18s.

. FIVE of Rovers’ top players face a difficult decision in the coming weeks.

Do they stick with their plan to try their luck at Guernsey FC or do they automatically surrender almost certain starting spots in Charlie Pinsard’s FA Inter-League Cup side by putting pen to paper for the Green Lions?

Tom Strawbridge, Tyler McKane, Louis Graham, Blair Howitt and Sam Hall would seem worthy additions to the GFC squad, but training with the Lions is one thing, signing for them precludes them from playing against the Hampshire League at the end of September.

We might get a clue as to their intentions as early as next weekend when Pinsard’s side play Rovers in a friendly.

Rob Batiste

By Rob Batiste
Sports Editor

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