First Tower United v Sporting Academics reserves

4.30pm  30 January 2016

Jersey Combination, Division Two
First Tower United 1 Sporting Academics reserves 3 (att 25)

Booking a weekend break in the British Isles in January is always a risk, and so it proved as our short stay in the Channel island of Jersey coincided with weather so wet it wiped out all Saturday's scheduled games on grass.

Luckily for me, the island's de facto national stadium, Springfield in St Helier, now has a 3G pitch, allowing a couple of games to go ahead. Less fortunately, it wasn't a new ground for me, as I'd seen a Jersey Combination game at Springfield in 1991.

In the 25 years since, the stadium has been entirely rebuilt, and now looks completely different. As well as replacing the grass, the pitch itself has apparently been rotated 90 degrees, the old stand and huge open terrace opposite are gone, replaced by a neat and modern seated stand.

First team football in Jersey is restricted to the top two divisions, the Premiership and Championship (the two leagues created after a mid-season split of a single division), while divisions one and two are for reserve and third teams.

But First Tower's first eleven pulled out of the league earlier in the season so, while this was officially a reserve fixture, it featured the First Tower's most senior team. The club has a strong history, in fact I saw them at home last time I was Springfield, and hopefully they can return to senior football next season.

They looked to have a young side against Sporting Academics, whose players were mostly more experienced. The game was entertaining, even if the standard wasn't too high. It was a goal each after 10 minutes, but it was well into the second half before the visitors scored twice more to win.

First Tower were a little unfortunate not to get a point, and the Sporting Academics keeper had a very good game to help his side to victory.

Jersey is a long way to go just for a revisit, but at least I got to see a game, and Springfield Stadium is so transformed it felt like a new ground, even if I couldn't count it as one. More importantly, it's a lovely place for a weekend break, even in the rain.

Below are two views of Springfield in 1991

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