From Ideal Sports Club to the Championship: Montserrat’s Overseas Derby

One might assume that a certain island in the West Indies will be watching Saturday’s game very closely indeed.

After all, the combined squads of Wigan Athletic and Queens Park Rangers contain a healthy total of two players representing the tiny British Overseas Territory of Montserrat. Such a contingent would in theory account for about 1/2500th of the island’s total population.

However, it might surprise you to learn that according to Wikipedia, the Montserrat national team’s 2018 World Cup Qualification squad contained 19 British-based players.

Granted, since those individuals are plucked from clubs in disparate non-league divisions, they don’t often face each other in domestic competition. Hence, it will be a fairly significant moment in Montserratian football history should Donervon Daniels and Brandon Comley square off for their respective Championship clubs at some point this season.

But not as significant as one might first think. As Montserrat is a British Overseas Territory, it is relatively easy for residents to migrate to the United Kingdom.

According to the 2001 UK Census 7,983 Montserratian-born people were residing in the UK (almost twice the population of Montserrat itself).” — Wikipedia

When Montserrat’s Soufrière Hills volcano became unsafe in 1995, much of the island’s population – and thus footballing talent – departed, accepting the UK Government’s offer of residency in Britain (source: The Football Pink).

Over 20 years later, Montserrat football still shares a strong bond with the United Kingdom. Many of those selected for the island’s national team were born in England – that is certainly the case for QPR’s Comley, and while Daniels was born in Montserrat, he has spent much of his football career in England.

Owing to injuries and selection preferences, it’s unlikely both will feature on the pitch tomorrow. But having spent a whole summer screaming ‘get Grigg off the bench’ at Northern Ireland Manager Michael O’Neill, we know how Montserratian fans might feel.

So come on, Gary! Put Donervon on… for the nation of Montserrat! Even if he is injured.

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