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Wednesday, July 6, 2011


For most football players across the world, appearing at the World Cup Finals is just a pipe-dream. For a small section of the global footballing family, competing in a FIFA-sanctioned competition for their national team is an almost impossible dream. Their only option is to compete in the Island Games tournament, the latest version of which finished last Friday afternoon on the Isle of Wight with the hosts winning the competition for the second time after beating Guernsey by 4 goals to 2 after extra-time in what was, by all accounts, a thrilling - and fitting - final.

Three-times winners Jersey, meanwhile, picked up their fifth bronze medal in Island Games football competition earlier on Friday by thrashing Aland 5:1 in the third-place play-off.

The Island Games first took place in the Isle of Man in 1985 as part of the island's Year of Sport, and athletes from several islands across Europe took part in several sports, including 5-a-side football competitions for under-16s, which was won by the Norwegian island of Froya.

The Faroes senior side took part in, and won, the first two Island Games 11-a-side competitions before they went off and joined FIFA in 1990. Bermuda's under-23 side took part in 2007, when they picked up the bronze medal.

Twenty-two out of the twenty-five members of the Island Games Association, the governing body of what has, in recent years, become known as the NatWest Island Games, have taken part in the football tournament at some time or other in the tournament's history. Fifteen of them participated in the 2011 edition, which certainly proved eventful.

Gibraltar and Greenland, who have lobbied for FIFA and UEFA membership in the past, are regular competitors in the tournament, and were present again this time. The two competing teams with the smallest populations this time round were the Falkland Islands and Alderney, both of which have populations of around 3000 people. They met each other in the 13th/14th-place play-off, with the Falklands winning 3:0.

This was the fourth time that the Falklands had participated in the tournament, while Alderney were competing for the second time. Alderney's first tournament was in 2003, when they finished in 11th place after beating a team from the Estonian island of Saaremaa by a goal to nil. That victory finally put an end to what was surely the longest winless streak by a representative side in football history. Alderney have only ever won two "international" football matches; their only previous victory was a 1:0 victory against Guernsey back in 1920. They had no luck again this time, being soundly beaten in all of their three group games.

Meanwhile, trouble was brewing in Group A, and it was mostly involving the representative team from the Greek island of Rhodes. In their first game, a 2:1 victory against Greenland, they had two players sent off deep into second-half injury-time. Their next game was against Jersey, the eventual group winners, and they lost 2:0 after the injury-time red mist descended upon them once again. Rhodes had two players sent off in ten minutes' worth of injury-time; they also had eight players booked in normal time, and had to be escorted off the pitch at the end of the game.

After an emergency meeting of the Organising Committee, it was decided that the Rhodes team would be expelled from the competition and banned from the next two editions of the Island Games. This was not the first time that they had landed themselves in hot water in the history of the Island Games; they also had 5 players sent off in a game against Guernsey on their début appearance in the competition in 1999. On that occasion, they withdrew voluntarily and their games were expunged from the tournament records.

Menawhile, things were a lot quieter in the three-team Group D, which involved the Finnish archipelago of Aland, Saaremaa, and the Western Isles. After finishing with identical records at the top of the group, Aland and Saaremaa faced each other in a rather unique event - a play-off penalty shootout on what was originally designated as the football tournament's rest day. Aland finished top of the group and progressed to the semi-finals after winning the shootout 4:3.

Groups B and C were, in comparison, leisurely affairs as far as discipline was concerned, but goals were being scored by the bucketload in both groups, with 34 goals being scored in each group, which featured Alderney and the Falklands respectively. Unfortunately, only the Falklands netted a goal during the group stages, which saw the Isle of Wight edge out Gibraltar in Group B, while Guernsey topped Group C ahead of the Isle of Man.

After the play-offs for the minor places, the tournament reached the semi-final stage, where the Isle of Wight defeated Jersey 1:0, while Guernsey got past Aland in a five-goal affair.

Jersey went in at half-time in the third-place match 2:1 ahead of Aland, with all three goals coming in the last 5 minutes of the first-half courtesy of Luke Watson and Lee Bradshaw for the Jerseyans, with Peter Lundberg scoring on the half-time whistle for Aland. That was as good as it got for the Finns, with Watson, Jay Reid and Craig Leitch all netting in the second-half to put the seal on a comprehensive 5:1 victory for Jersey.

And so to the final, which took place at St. George's Park in Newport before an estimated crowd of some 2000 people and featured the hosts, the Isle of Wight, and Guernsey, and it was the Channel Islanders took the lead in the first five minutes through Ross Allen. Two goals in quick succession just after the hour mark from Charlie Smeeton and Ryan Woodford put the hosts in the driving seat, but Guernsey's Matthew Loaring set up extra-time with a strike 4 minutes before the end.

However, the Isle of Wight were not to be denied, and it was goals in each half of extra-time from Smeeton and Iain Seabrook, who scored the winner with four minutes to go, which delivered the island its second Island Games football title.

And so ended the twelfth edition of the Island Games football tournament in glory for the host island, with the next tournament, to be held in Bermuda in July 2013, already on the horizon, and very much on the agenda for most of the IGA members.

Below is a full summary of the results of the NatWest Island Games 2011 football tournament.



26/6/11 Rhodes 2:0 Greenland (Brading)
26/6/11 Jersey 2:0 Menorca (Cowes)
27/6/11 Greenland 2:3 Menorca (East Cowes)
27/6/11 Jersey 2:0 Rhodes (Newport)
28/6/11 Greenland 1:2 Jersey (Freshwater)
28/6/11 Menorca 3:0 Rhodes (Newport)*

FINAL GROUP POSITIONS: 1 JERSEY (9 points); 2 Menorca (6 points); 3 Rhodes (3 points); 4 Greenland (0 points)


26/6/11 Alderney 1:6 Gibraltar (Newport)
26/6/11 Isle of Wight 4:0 Ynys Môn (Newport)
27/6/11 Alderney 0:4 Isle of Wight (Cowes)
27/6/11 Gibraltar 6:3 Ynys Môn (Brading)
28/6/11 Alderney 0:5 Ynys Môn (Shanklin)
28/6/11 Gibraltar 2:3 Isle Of Wight (East Cowes)

FINAL GROUP POSITIONS: 1 ISLE OF WIGHT (9 points); 2 Gibraltar (6 points); 3 Ynys Môn (6 points); 4 Alderney (0 points)


26/6/11 Gotland 2:4 Isle of Man (Cowes)
26/6/11 Guernsey 5:0 Falkland Islands (Brading)
27/6/11 Isle of Man 6:0 Falkland Islands (Rookley)
27/6/11 Gotland 2:5 Guernsey (Freshwater)
28/6/11 Guernsey 2:1 Isle of Man (East Cowes)
28/6/11 Falkland Islands 1:6 Gotland (Ryde)

FINAL GROUP PLACINGS: 1 GUERNSEY (9 points); 2 Isle of Man (6 points); 3 Gotland (3 points); 4 Falkland Islands (0 points)


26/6/11 Aland 3:3 Saaremaa
27/6/11 Western Isles 0:2 Aland
28/6/11 Saaremaa 2:0 Western Isles

GROUP PLACINGS: =1 ALAND (4 points); =1 SAAREMAA (4 points); 3 Western Isles (0 points)


29/6/11 Aland 4:3 Saaremaa (Rookley)

FINAL GROUP PLACINGS: 1 ALAND; 2 Saaremaa; 3 Western Isles


30/6/11 13th/14th Alderney 0:3 Falkland Islands** (Shanklin)
30/6/11 11th/12th Greenland 1:0 Western Isles (Shanklin)
30/6/11 9th/10th Gotland 1:2 Ynys Môn (Freshwater)
30/6/11 7th/8th Isle of Man 2:2 Menorca***(Cowes)
30/6/11 5th/6th Saaremaa 0:4 Gibraltar (Brading)


30/6/11 Jersey 0:1 Isle of Wight(Cowes)
30/6/11 Guernsey 3:2 Aland (Brading)


1/7/11 Jersey 5:1 Aland (Brading)


1/7/11 ISLE OF WIGHT 4:2 Guernsey AET (Newport)

RUNNERS-UP: Guernsey
3RD: Jersey

4TH: Aland
5TH: Gibraltar
6TH: Saaremaa
7TH: Menorca
8TH: Isle of Man
9TH: Ynys Môn
10TH: Gotland
11TH: Greenland
12TH: Western Isles
13TH: Falkland Islands
14TH: Alderney


* Match between Rhodes : Menorca not played; Menorca awarded a 3:0 victory after Rhodes were expelled from competition because of violent conduct
** Both teams finished with identical records; penalty shoot-out was the method decided as to who would progress to the semi-finals
*** Won on penalties
**** Originally finished in last place (and out of the play-offs), the Falkland Islands were given a berth in a
play-off match against Alderney due to Rhodes' expulsion from the competition


1989    FAROE ISLANDS/Ynys Môn/Aland
1991    FAROE ISLANDS/Ynys Môn/Jersey
1993    JERSEY/Isle of Man/Aland
1995    ISLE OF WIGHT/Gibraltar/Jersey
1997    JERSEY/Ynys Môn/Isle of Wight
1999    YNYS MÔN/Isle of Man/Isle of Wight
2001    GUERNSEY/Ynys Môn/Jersey
2003    GUERNSEY/Isle of Man/Jersey
2005    SHETLAND/Guernsey/Western Isles
2007    GIBRALTAR/Rhodes/Western Isles
2009    JERSEY/Aland/Guernsey
2011    ISLE OF WIGHT/Guernsey/Jersey

NOTE: The first Island Games tournament, played under the title of the Inter-Island Games, was held in the Isle of Man in 1985 as part of the island's Year of Sport. It featured a 5-a-side football tournament for under-16s, which was won by Froya, with Ynys Môn/Anglesey finishing as runners-up and Orkney coming in third. The other competing islands, in order of final positions in the round-robin tournament, were Guernsey, Froya's sister island Hitra, the hosts Isle of Man, and Jersey.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many and sincere thanks to Kay Batty from the IGA for granting permission to publish the full results.

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