When the idea surfaced that Jersey were going to have a football team in the English Leagues, my personal reaction was ‘AT LAST’, and I feel many Jersey football fans would have reacted the same way.
The local league had somewhat plateaued with St Pauls’ dominance, albeit with various challengers such as Jersey Scottish before their collapse, and more recently St Peter, but for a neutral (more or less) it had become a bit ‘samey samey’.
I was at university when I first heard the news. During my time in England I was media officer at the local football club over in Chichester, Chichester City FC, for three years, and developed a love for non-league football. Chi City are now in the same league as Guernsey FC and are a very handy team. I often compared levels with the best Jersey footballers, and in the main I thought it was equal. So, when the news came out, I thought it was brilliant.
The buzz on the island for football in the summer just gone has been immense, starting with the Muratti win, followed by Parishes of Jersey forming and heading to Yorkshire where they won one and lost one, despite being the better team in the latter. Finally, the Island Games, where there was disappointment for Jersey FA, but again, good performances.
The Bulls’ curtain opener was the next stage of an amazing summer for Jersey football. That summers day against Stevenage. That Fraser Barlow goal. Those Lorne Bickley and Jonny Le Quesne goals. The immense number of people who turned up to #BackTheBulls. It was immense.
The boys then battled with Leicester’s development squad, and despite the result, showed they were no pushovers against some of the up and coming Premier League talents.
All of this was leading to a league debut against Ash United, and boy that didn’t disappoint. The history maker Fraser Barlow was at it again. Karl Hinds and Harry Cardwell also bagged a goal each. The boys at the back stood firm and Euan Van Der Vliet kept a clean sheet. What. A. Start.
Since then we haven’t looked back. Jay Giles, the only ever-present in the starting line-up has been immense at left back, and with the experienced heads of Luke Campbell and captain James Queree we have a centre-half duo of class and calmness. A big shout-out I feel needs to go to Jules Gabbiadini. Not a right back until this season but he has dug in and cemented his place in the line-up.
This grit and determination has flowed through the team, and is one of the reasons they sit at the top of the table, eleven clear, with eleven wins from eleven games at this early stage of the season.
Harry Cardwell has shone, and for many islanders has been the surprise package of the season so far, long may that continue. Karl Hinds, possibly the star of the season so far. He is finding space where nobody else can and scoring goals galore whilst still being that link up player which Daryl Wilson is so grateful for. History maker Fraser Barlow hasn’t done bad either, has he? Goals galore, and akin to our very own Ryan Giggs with that left foot of his.
Others deserve a mention such as Euan Van Der Vliet, Adam Trotter, Kamen Nafkha, Sol Solomon, Ruben Mendes and Jonny Le Quesne, who like Lorne Bickley, is over in America at present, so we still have more to come. We should applaud the whole squad for their clear togetherness so far.
To say it has been a success to date is an understatement and full credit goes to Russel Le Feuvre, Ian Horswell and Gary Freeman, along with the backroom staff. People such as myself and all other volunteers do it for fun and the love of football, but for those involved from the very start, it must mean that much more to see the success achieved both on, and off the pitch to this point.
One thing is for sure. We can’t take anything for granted and I am sure Gary and his players know that.
I hope we carry on playing great football, more importantly winning, and I hope YOU, the fans continue to come down in numbers to back this exciting, new adventure.
The Bulls have started their charge.