Island Games: Lee Bramley hopes Jersey can repeat 1997 gold

By Tim PryorBBC Radio Jersey
Bramley nets Jersey winner in 1997

Stoppage time in the men's football final at the 1997 Island Games in Jersey and up pops substitute Lee Bramley to give the hosts a dramatic winner against Ynys Mon.

BBC commentator Roger Bara described it as a moment Bramley would "never forget" as around 6,000 supporters celebrated at the island's newly rebuilt Springfield Stadium.

Now, 18 years on, Jersey is again preparing to host the Games and Bramley hopes a repeat performance can put the Reds back on the "football map".

He told BBC Radio Jersey: "Football was then (in 1997) the number one sport.

"Now the rugby, the cricket and even the netball has taken over and that's through sponsorship and the divisions they're playing in now, which is a bit of a shame for Jersey football.

"Hopefully in this Island Games they can do really well, hopefully win it, and maybe put themselves back on the map again."

Analysis: Brent Pilnick, Jersey-born BBC Sport reporter
"I watched every one of Jersey's matches as a 16-year-old fan during the 1997 Island Games and can remember vividly the day Jersey won gold.
"We all thought the game would be going into extra time before Lee Bramley's goal late in the second half of that tense final and invaded the pitch at the final whistle.
"As my friends and I cheered Jersey on we bashed the hoardings around the side of Springfield so hard it took weeks for the bruising to go away. But the gold medal - and that 4-0 win over Guernsey a few days earlier - made it worth it."

Bramley's thrilling winning goal from close range in the 1997 final came not long after he had joined the action from the substitutes' bench. It was the day after his 23rd birthday.

"It's definitely got to be one of the highlights of my career, I don't think there's any better than that really," said Bramley, now a 40-year-old electrician still living in Jersey.

"It was such a great experience, and to score that late on in a game as well - the crowd went mental, it was fantastic for them and fantastic for Jersey as the hosts.

"I came on with 10 minutes to go and it was just a bit of a blur at the end where Adam Greig crossed it in and I was the first one there to pop it in.

"The crowd just went absolutely crazy after that. They reckon there was about 6,000 spectators there and you couldn't hear yourself."

The class of 2015, tasked with trying to emulate that 1997 success, certainly has the quality to challenge for medals again.

Players such as Luke Watson, Jack Boyle and Stuart Andre clearly have the desire to go all the way.

The toughest challenge in their group is likely to be the Isle of Man - those sides meet in their final group game, which could effectively become a quarter-final.

Rivals Guernsey, almost entirely made up of players from English non-league side Guernsey FC, and Uefa nation Gibraltar are likely to be among the favourites for gold.

Bramley plans to cheer on the current Jersey side during next week's Games, with the Reds heading into the event in high spirits after a 3-2 Muratti win over rivals Guernsey in May.

"Obviously it was a great result against Guernsey," Bramley added. "No one thought they [Jersey] would win but they came through and hopefully they can do that in this Island Games as well."

BBC Radio Jersey will broadcast live commentary of all Jersey men's and women's group-stage matches during the Island Games, which run from Saturday, 27 June to Friday, 3 July.

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