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Another hard season ahead for high-flying Guernsey

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It is a chant to warm the cockles of your heart: “Ormering, ormering, we’re the famous Guernsey FC and we’re going ormering.”

Graham Hantonne chuckles at the memory of a bitterly cold night in Egham, Surrey when he suddenly found his voice and burst into song.

“It was possibly fuelled by several pints, “ he says. “We had not really gelled as noisy fan base at the time.  It raised a laugh among the Guerns at first and was quickly taken up by fans home and away. And hardly anyone in the UK knows what we’re on about”

Ormering  – the name of the independent fanzine which Hantonne help set up – is a tradition in the Channel Islands. The green ormer is a shellfish and the act of wading through the shallows to find them is known as Ormering.

Guernsey, who joined the English pyramid system in 2011 are spending their second season in the Isthmian League Division One South after falling in the play-offs last season following successive promotions. They have a huge fan base for this level and their followers are not afraid to travel long distances from the island to see the boys in green.

Nigel Burnard and his wife Karen jumped on a plane to see the team play at Northern League Spennymoor in the FA Vase while Darryl  Parkyn travelled to Walsall Wood in the west Midlands for another game in the competition.  

Hantonne, an ex-pat who lives in Watford, says: “As far as attendances at away games go it can be anything from half a dozen to 100s.

“The poorest attendance’s are at midweek games where train times are an influence. Even a 7.30 kick off would make a difference most of the time.

“The website was started at the end of that first season and was only going to be an information board for UK based fans re pre-match pubs and so on. It’s turned out to be a bit more than that though and we get 20,000+ visits a month, which isn’t bad for a Step 4 fan site.

“ We have  a good relationship with the football club. It does appear to be a bit corporate at times but we need to be realistic and recognise that a budget of several hundred thousand is required just to ensure the club can compete, and that’s as an amateur club.”

Parkyn believes Guernsey are being disadvantaged financially because of their location. “I’d like to see more help given to the funding of the games, especially in the FA Cup and Trophy where special rules have been put in place, “ he says.

“It would be nice for Guernsey to be treated the same as other clubs and not have extra obstacles placed in its path.”

Burnard is also concerned about the amount of money washing about at this level of non-league football and says: “One thing that should be looked at is the unrealistic payments to players by clubs. They hope that their team will attract enough fans to pay them and when they can’t the team goes into freefall.”

Guernsey, whose president is Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier , are deep into pre-season and building up their fitness ahead of exhausting trips to the likes of Ramsgate, some 300 miles away.

Another exciting season is on the horizon for Tony Vance and his high-flying side…

The FSF blog is the space to challenge perceived wisdom, entertain readers and inform our members. The views expressed are those of the author and they don’t necessarily represent FSF policy and (pay attention journalists) shouldn’t be attributed to the FSF.

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