Guernsey’s highest profile football game took place in 1948. It was a friendly, at home, against London club Tottenham Hotspur.
Hosted at The Track, the game kicked off at 5pm, and wouldn’t have come about at all had it not been for promoter Teddy Zabiela. He had met the London team when he’d been working on a mail ship, which had been taking them to Buenos Aires.
He met the team again when it played a game in Cardiff between the wars. From that point on his connection with it was fixed. Through that connection, he managed to persuade the players to come to Guernsey for a game against the local team.
A local abroad
For one player on Spurs’ side, there must have been very mixed feelings about playing on the island. Len Duquemin had been born on Guernsey, but signed to play for Spurs, and quickly became one of the team’s most valued players.
Duquemin played in more than 300 matches in the ten years from 1947 and scored 134 goals for the side. When Spurs travelled to Guernsey, he played in the number 9 position opposite his former countrymen.
Although Liberation Day is celebrated on 9 May, this 12 May match was timetabled to fall on Liberation Day – a point made on the cover of the programme. Spurs had also played Jersey four days earlier, on 8 May, again to mark that island’s liberation.
The game was billed as “Guernsey Island XI versus Tottenham Hotspur FC”. Referee HW Bisson was assisted by H Trustum and one other unnamed linesmen. A draw of programme numbers was made after the game. The winner earned the right to buy the ball that had been used in the game for a penny.