BROWNE ON THE BALL: As Boston United’s defence goes international, why you shouldn’t question the call-ups

Jason St Juste.
Jason St Juste.

Duncan Browne poses perhaps the daftest pub quiz question of all time...

Which National League North side had two players from the same position called up for Caribbean Cup qualifier duties in the same week? And for a bonus point, name those countries.

Courtney Wildin.

Courtney Wildin.

Ok, as pub quiz questions go, this one may never take off. And anyway, those of you from these parts will probably know the answer already, after Boston United learned they will be left without the services of Jason St Juste and Courtney Wildin for the October 8 visit of Worcester City.

St Juste - who plays left back for St Kitts and Nevis and has recently been slotting into that position at the Jakemans Stadium - will be involved in matches against Haiti and French Guiana next Saturday and the following Tuesday. Wildin’s Antigua and Barbuda are looking to top a group which also involves Curacao and Puerto Rico and book their place in next year’s finals, their matches taking place next Wednesday and Saturday.

While both have represented their nations before, this will be the first time the duo have been called up while playing for the Pilgrims, joining Northern Ireland’s Andy Kirk in a very small band of full internationals who have earned their weekly wage down York Street.

If you told a young Dennis Greene, taking his first steps in management, that one day he would be in charge of a team including two internationals, this current situation may not have been the one he’d picture. But we’d all better get used to it.

Because, in this modern world of available air travel, migration and a desire for football, football, football, this is going to become a lot more commonplace.

The grandparent rule means that some footballers are now able to represent a country whose land they never set foot upon until international week. This may put the natives’ noses out of joint, but you can’t blame smaller countries for looking to cast their nets wider and give themselves any possible advantage.

There may be plenty of decent full backs living on both St Kitts and Nevis (the ninth smallest country in the world) and Antigua and Barbuda (the 12th). But how many of them were coached at Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday? How many of them won the FA Trophy at Wembley?

Frankly, the talent in non-league is regularly better than that available in the Caribbean.

It is for this very reason that Montserrat have held international trials on Hackney Marshes instead of the Lesser Antilles. That’s why Midlands-based ex-Pilgrims like Spencer Weir-Daley and Massiah McDonald and former United trialist Jay-Lee Hodgson have all represented the Emerald Boys.

Zeph Thomas, a Sugar Boyz teammate of St Juste, and Guadeloupe’s Ludovic Quistin were both internationals while plying their trade down York Street, but neither earned call-ups during their brief spells.

Due to the fall of the Iron Curtain, civil war and religious fall outs, the world is getting carved up. Today there are 195 countries on the planet (not counting Taiwan). But seeing as FIFA also recognises dependent territories, four teams from within the UK and debated lands such as Kosovo and Palestine, there are 226 countries looking for players and a further 12 unafilliated states who may also call up your star striker for an Olympic qualifier at the Pacific or Micronesian Games.

And with youth-age teams and sides like the England C non-league outfit, you are more likely than ever to lose a Lee Beevers, Henrik Ravas or Dayle Southwell (almost) at some stage in a season.

Like it or not, it’s a global game and there are more nations with football teams than for any other sport.

Perhaps that stat could make a better pub quiz question?