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Plight of twins’ new club shows wisdom of our non-pro choice

Inside Track | Published:

IT’S no secret within domestic rugby circles that several years back influential people and those with access to sizeable funding met to discuss the future of Island rugby.

Twins Asher and Amanaki Veamatahau eyeing Peterborough, possibly. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 26433756)

Should they be aiming for the skies, just as Jersey were, was a key question.

The answer was a resounding no.

It would be bad for Island rugby and unnecessarily risky, concluded the power group – including two then chairmen of Premiership clubs and one then chairman of a top Championship club – who all strongly advised Guernsey not to go pro.

That story came to mind this week when, totally out of the blue, the very handy Australian twins Asher and Amanaki Veamatahau disappeared from the island and, with the promise of payment, signed for Peterborough Lions in the Midland Premier League.

Like us journalists do, we researched Peterborough Lions and discovered a few things.

Firstly and currently, Peterborough Lions are not at all good.

They have lost every game this season and most of them by an evening league cricket score.

But, and here is the key, they were much better last year when they played at National Two level, which is one grade higher than Raiders were playing at last season when they were relegated back to London and SE Premier status.

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But while Raiders have since bounced back well utilising a progressive wholly amateur model which embraces the best of local talent and overseas scouting, the Lions have had their mane shaved well and truly.

Poor Peterborough lost all their squad and, clearly desperate, are still willing to pay players to play.

An article in the Peterborough Telegraph suggests they feel they have no choice but to do so in what is a very miserable 75th anniversary season.

Peterborough Lions’ chairman Andy Moore, who insists his beloved club will emerge stronger from their current nightmare, which includes the indignity of a points deduction after calling off their Midlands Premier Division trip to Newport, painted a picture of a sport’s structure which is plainly not working.

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He told the area newspaper: ‘Our club is suffering from a major shortage of players. Last year playing in National Division Two, it became apparent nearly all of the clubs we were playing relied on a handful of Premiership Academy players.

‘If these players were not available to any club on a Saturday, that club lost.

‘The Championship teams, to be able to compete, have all extended their squads, taking players from the top two National divisions.

‘All these things have a knock-on effect and the three Midland teams that were relegated from National 2 last year, including us, lost all of their players back to the National leagues.

‘One club has had to drop out of the leagues altogether and the other [South Leicester] is stuck with us at the bottom of the league and last week lost 240-0.

‘As a National League side last season, we had to be PAYE registered and provide a pension scheme.’

How much the Veamatahaus can prop up Peterborough going forward remains to be seen, but Raiders are clear that their policy of not paying players is the only way forward.

Yes, they have real ambition, but not the brand that could bankrupt them.

. MURATTI selections. Don’t we football public just love them.

While it is high pressure stuff for the man charged to pick and coach the team, for us journos it is often a bit of fun and sometimes mischief to suggest that this player or that should be lining up against Jersey.

Well, after watching Guernsey FC perform so superbly in edging out Sevenoaks Town at Footes Lane seven days ago, I’d be of a mind to say pick mostly every eligible Green Lion on view with either a fit again Will Fazakerley in the 9 shirt, or one of the two best Priaulx League hit-men, Sam Murray or Kyle Smith.

I say mostly every Lion on view, but whether it would be right to pick 16-year-old Alex Scott in a full Muratti is open to very reasonable question.

Given his age and the ferocity of a senior Muratti I would not be so sure, but clearly Scott is a quite brilliant player in the making and when Carlos Canha was forced off so early on last Saturday, he slotted in superbly, displaying technical ability the match of anyone on the field, including Ross Allen.

The GFC team deserve huge credit in this period of transformation, not least because they have the courage to play in such an enterprising, free manner.

That it can adopt such freedoms stems from four key things: 1, the ability to call upon an outstanding goalkeeper in Cal Stanton; 2, the very capable filling of the previously problematical left-back slot; 3, Jamie Dodd’s enduring battling leadership and; 4, the return of Ross Allen.

‘Rosco’ may have lost his zip, but in his new, deeper role, he still oozes class the likes of which any team in the Isthmian League would wish to field.

Also, it is key that Allen has returned to a Guernsey FC that now has three forward players on his mental wavelength – Canha, Charlton Gauvain and young Scott.

As a result GFC can build attacks with more security and precision in the final third where, the previous two seasons, the last delivery was often found wanting and often led to a turnover and counter.

. DID playing their FA Inter-League Cup second-round clash on a Track mudbath ultimately cost Charlie Pinsard’s league representative side last weekend?

From all I have heard by those present, the Priaulx League XI played some superb football to take an early 2-0 lead and perhaps add to it, but once another dump of rain made the ground too heavy for a passing game, Dorset had a way back in and took it.

. SYLVANS have a new president in Adrian Brown as of last Wednesday.

He replaces Nigel Gallienne, who has done a terrific job this past decade at the club, seven years of which he served in the top role.

As the departing man observed this week, it wears you down over time and the club needed a new injection from the top.

True, but how much the efforts of Gallienne and the likes of Kevin Melrose and Paddy Breton have contributed to a terrific club should never be under-estimated.

Rob Batiste

By Rob Batiste
Sports Editor

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