FC Halifax Town: Allen happy to clock up the miles making international debut for Montserrat

Football - FC Halifax Town v Boreham Wood. Jamie Allen for Town.
Football - FC Halifax Town v Boreham Wood. Jamie Allen for Town.

While his Halifax team-mates were toiling to a 0-0 draw at Woking the other weekend, Jamie Allen was more than 5,000 miles away making his international debut for Montserrat.

The Preston-born winger played the full 90 minutes in their CONCACAF Nations League games in El Salvador and St Lucia.

Montserrat is a Caribbean island with a population of just over 5,000. Allen’s eligibility is through his grandmother, who moved to the UK when the previously dormant Soufrière Hills volcano erupted in July 1995, destroying the capital city of Plymouth.

“I heard about it a few months ago, and I thought it was a good opportunity,” Allen said of his call-up.

“They’re doing a lot of research into the lower leagues on who’s eligible to play.

“I enjoyed it, it was really good. El Salvador was a real experience because everywhere we went we were escorted by police.

“We took a little walk around but it’s not really a place you want to walk around because you’re constantly under security.

“When you get there and see the police you’re like ‘whoa’ but it’s surprisingly nice. We took a walk in the shopping mall and it was a nice place.

“Then we travelled to St Lucia, which was really great. We only spent the last two or three days there.”After the game on Saturday we traveled there for the game on Tuesday.

“It was a shock when I got off the plan back here in the UK! I’m getting a cold already!”

Allen played 90 minutes in both games, a 1-0 defeat in El Salvador and a 1-0 win in St Lucia.

“It was tough,” said Allen, who joined The Shaymen this summer from Dover. “El Salvador were expected to beat us 2-0, 3-0, no-one expected us to get anything, but we held on right until the 90th minute and they scored in stoppage time.

“The goal was offside but we were never going to get the decision - there was 25,000 people in there and the referee was from El Salvador as well.

“It was really loud, the atmosphere was buzzing, but I thrive off that, I enjoyed it.

“Then we managed to get the result against St Lucia so we’ve given ourselves another chance in the play-offs.

“I think they’re in March, and they give us another chance to qualify for the Gold Cup, which would be amazing.

“The winner of Group C plays us in a play-off and then if we win that, we get another game, and if we win that then we qualify.

“We knew we had to win and El Salvador had to get a result against Dominican Republic, and they did.

“Some people were saying ‘they’ve already qualified so they might not be bothered’ but they won 2-0 and we won so we finished second in the group.”

Allen says the quality in the Montserrat side is of a decent standard.

“The captain plays in the Championship, there’s a couple of players that play in this league, who I’ve played against.

“Some players have had decent careers that are coming towards the end now, they’ve played in the Championship.

“They all know their football. Hopefully in the future more players who are eligible can be found and the standard will get better and better.

“It’s still early days really.”

And his grandmother’s reaction to making his international debut for her home country?

“She was buzzing,” he said. “She’s proud. It’s because of her I can play for them.”
Allen says he has never been to Montserrat, but would like to visit: “The lads have told me it’s a beautiful island. If I get the chance to go, I will.”

Allen said his new-found status as an international footballer was pounced on by his team-mates back at Halifax.

“It’s nice that when the games come I can go away and have a break and travel the world playing football - you can’t really complain can you?” he added.

“The first thing in training when I gave the ball away they were giving me stick about me being an international, which was expected.

“But that’s the banter of the lads, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”