Jersey Bulls: New team makes 100% start in 10th tier of English game

Gary Freeman
Jersey Bulls manager Gary Freeman was in charge of local club St Peter until last season, leading them in two seasons of cup competition in Kent

As far as starts to the season go, Jersey Bulls have had one to remember - played five, won five, scored 19, conceded none.

But it is even more remarkable when you consider they are the first five competitive fixtures the club has ever played.

The Bulls, based in Saint Helier, are the first club side from Jersey to play in the English league system and have made their bow in the 10th tier - Combined Counties League Division One.

After five matches they are two points clear at the top, while their goal difference is 12 better than the next best side, Sandhurst Town.

Two wins in the space of 24 hours - a 4-0 win on Sunday over previous joint-leaders Fleet Spurs, followed by a 1-0 away victory at Westside on Monday - put them top and they are already six points clear of third-placed Farnham Town.

"I'm delighted not to concede a goal, I didn't expect that, but I did expect us to be competitive and towards the top of the table," manager Gary Freeman told BBC Sport.

"We have got talented players over here that are more than capable of playing at this level and the level above."

Jersey Bulls
Jersey's top scorer Karl Hinds has scored six goals in five games - including this penalty in their first-ever competitive match

The Bulls were born out of an ambition to get the best players from Jersey playing more regular games at a higher standard.

For years Jersey had designs on following the likes of Gibraltar and the Faroe Islands and becoming an international football nation, but their bid to join Uefa was turned down last year.

The largest of the Channel Islands is represented in Conifa - the federation for teams not affiliated with Fifa - and Jersey's FA has a representative side that plays rivals Guernsey every year and competes at the Island Games, but there is no regular competition.

'They're going to see us as a target'

Until last season the Bulls squad played for local clubs in a seven-team, 18-game division where the best two or three sides regularly breezed past the other teams in their league.

But while the standard may be comparable, Jersey's players are not used to a 38-game season, with 19 trips to Gatwick Airport and beyond.

"The players are really pushing each other and working hard to get in the team," adds Freeman who led local club side St Peter to the semi-finals of the Kent Senior Trophy last season, so has experienced the level at which Jersey are playing.

Jersey Bulls' opening results
3 August: Beat Ash United 3-0 (h)
14 August: Beat Deportivo Galicia 6-0 (a)
17 August: Beat Godalming Town 5-0 (a)
25 August: Beat Fleet Spurs 4-0 (h)
26 August: Beat Westside 1-0 (a)

"In previous years they'd have not had such intense games back-to-back in the local league, but the excitement of playing at new grounds and in a new team is really inspiring them."

The Bulls now have a week off as they are not involved in the FA Vase this season, although it is an aim for future seasons.

While it is a welcome breather to recharge the batteries and count the airline loyalty points, Freeman says it also allows other teams more preparation time to face his men.

"Westside were quite physical and they wanted to put a marker on us," he added.

"The more we go on with this sort of start, they're going to see us as a target."

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