PLEASURE ISLANDS!

Eng­land C enjoy an ex­pe­ri­ence of a life­time

The Non-League Football Paper - - NEWS - By Matt Bad­cock

AS BACKDROPS go, the South At­lantic Ocean isn’t one Non-League play­ers are used to let alone in front of two record-break­ing crowds.

But when it’s taken you 16 hours to travel 16,000 miles for a game, then it’s not an or­di­nary game of foot­ball.

Just as the 16 play­ers from Step 3 to 5 se­lected by Paul Fair­clough for the spe­cial FA Rep­re­sen­ta­tive matches in the Falk­land Islands re­cently found out.

The squad, led by Eng­land C man­ager Fair­clough and joined by Mick Payne and Steve John­son of the RNFA played two fix­tures, win­ning 31 against the Falk­lands Islands team and de­feat­ing a Bri­tish Forces South At­lantic Islands side by 3-2.

Both vic­to­ries saw the largest spec­ta­tor turnout for any foot­ball match played on the Falk­lands.

“It was a fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence,” Bux­ton de­fender Alex Brown said. “One of the sides of the pitch backed onto the sea so you only had a foot back to take a throw-in!

“It was a real priv­i­lege. When you’re in the mo­ment you are just con­cen­trat­ing on the games and get­ting through them – it would have been a scalp if we’d lost so you’re mak­ing sure you con­cen­trate on get­ting the wins.

“But when you sit back now and re­alise what you’ve done and where you’ve been it is a real ex­pe­ri­ence you’ll al­ways talk about.”

Goals from Chal­font St Peter’s Alex Payne, Han­well’s Ibra­ham Olu­tade and Lever- stock Green at­tacker JJ Lacey helped the FA XI to vic­tory in the first game.

And a dou­ble from Brack­nell Town’s Liam Fer­di­nand and Read­ing City’s Mitchell Parker helped them to the win in the sec­ond game hav­ing fallen two goals be­hind.

Celebri­ties

In ad­di­tion the squad had a re­cep­tion at Govern­ment House, at­tended a Re­mem­brance Day pa­rade where Fair­clough laid a wreath on be­half of the FA. And the play­ers also helped put on coach­ing ses­sions at three schools as part of a busy sched­ule.

“Every­one en­joyed it, Paul had emails from the head­teach­ers say­ing how well we did,” Brown said. “We were like celebri­ties out there, sign­ing au­to­graphs for the kids and hav­ing pho­tos taken. It was a big thing.

“It was the big­gest at­ten­dance for a sport­ing event in Falk­lands’ his­tory and I think it was bro­ken twice across both days. That just shows how big it was and great to be a part of.”

Brown says the squad gelled to­gether from the be­gin­ning and will all keep in touch go­ing for­ward.

And for Fair­clough, the ex­pe­ri­ence is some­thing he be­lieves will stay with the young group for­ever. Fair­clough added: “While the foot­ball matches re­sulted in vic­to­ries per­formed at a high tech­ni­cal level, it was the overall im­pact on the com­mu­nity and our trav­el­ling squad that had the most pro­found ef­fect. “The young squad, with an av­er­age age of 21, have had an ex­pe­ri­ence that money can­not buy. “Through­out the short stay, their de­vel­op­ment as young people was ev­i­dent to see by all. The Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion has left a pro­found legacy on the Islands that will never be for­got­ten.”

PICTURE: The FA

SEA BREEZE: Eng­land C play­ers shake hands with their hosts be­fore kick-off be­fore cool­ing down in the ocean, be­low

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