JERSEY veteran Jack Cannon admits the only reason he has continued playing football in recent seasons is so he can break a 50-year-old Muratti-appearance record.
The St Paul’s FC stalwart will win a 23rd cap if he plays in Alderney on Saturday afternoon – on the same ground that he earned his debut 17 years ago, wearing boots borrowed from Luc Le Mière because his kit bag didn’t make it onto the flight.
No Jersey player has ever made more appearances than Alan ‘Nash’ Venton, who played for the Island 23 times between 1957-73. However, it is a mark that will be surpassed if Jersey reach the final and Cannon plays at Footes Lane, Guernsey, on 13 May.
While Cannon’s inclusion may have a certain sentimental value, the 36-year-old still believes he has a lot to offer the team, both in the Muratti and in this summer’s Island Games.
‘I back myself to play in any game. I am fully aware of my capabilities and I still believe I can play at this level and I think Cass believes that as well,’ he said, referring to the Jersey manager, Martin Cassidy, who also selected Cannon for last year’s Uefa Regions’ Cup in Italy.
Having made a name for himself, primarily as a left back, Cannon has shown in recent years that he can be quite adept at playing in the holding midfield role, using his vast experience and knowledge.
‘As you get older it’s only natural to slow down but I’ve always been into the tactical side and been a thinker of the game,’ he added. ‘I’ve played a lot of positions over the years and I always felt that I was someone that would age well and be able to influence players around me.
‘Without wanting to be big-headed, you have to have a certain amount of quality to play this long in the highest level of local football.’
The former AFC Bournemouth youth-team player was first called up to the senior side by Peter Vincenti Sr for the Alderney trip in 2006. He remembers hitting the crossbar with a free-kick and then beating Guernsey 3-2 in the final. He has been an ever-present for Jersey in the Muratti ever since – also scoring his first goal in Alderney, in 2013.
Jersey have never lost to Alderney in the 118-year history of the competition – winning all 46 matches between the islands and conceding just 21 goals. However, the Ridunians have been stiffer opposition to both Jersey and Guernsey in recent outings – losing by just one or two goals in the previous four semi-finals.
The Caesareans’ journey to the northernmost Channel Isle adds to the jeopardy, too. Particularly if there are rough seas.
Cannon and co are flying to Guernsey on Saturday morning before boarding a small, hour-long ferry from St Peter Port to Alderney.
‘They have made a game of it over the last five or six years, so there’s always potential for it to be awkward, especially with the weather, the wind and the pitch,’ Cannon continued. ‘But I’m fully confident we’ll go there and do what needs to be done.’
Cannon could have broken Venton’s Jersey record in 2021 had it not been for the pandemic and, potentially, been on course for an outright record, ahead of Guernsey’s Les Collins [25 caps].