Exciting times ahead for St James football fans
ON THE SPORTING EDGE
IT'S probably difficult for any football fan in St James not to be excited about the prospects in store for this season.
With Montego Bay United in only their second season, being a legitimate contender to vie for honours at the end of the Red Stripe Premier League season; having at least two teams that could win the JFF Captain's Bakery and Grill Western Confederation Super League and to the quality of the game on show in the Sandals/ATL Senor League, there definitely should be some excitement in St James football this season.
It could be premature to say St James' football product has turned the corner and heading back to the halcyon days of the 1980s and '90s, but certainly the curve in the road cannot be too far away now.
From the period when St James teams won six of 11 Premier League title and sending five teams to the Premier League during that time, to struggling to keep one team in the nation's top league, the fortunes of football in St James football had fans wringing Their hands and gnashing their teeth.
Again, while it is too early to start dreaming of those days returning, it is not too early to be optimistic given what we have seen.
Dr Dean Weatherly has done what a foreign coach (and an obviously well paid one too) failed to do -- make MBU into a serious contender in the Premier League.
After Brazilian Neider dos Santos threw in the towel early in the season, Weatherly who has won a Premier League title with Violet Kickers in the 1990s and multiple title at the schoolboy level with Cornwall College, has forged MBU into a consistent force and except for a hiccup at the end of the second round could have been playing in the end of round final.
As well as MBU has been playing, there are even better news, depending on one's perspective, in the lower leagues.
Wadadah, who won two Premier League titles then fell out of form and left to struggle in the Confederation League for years, is on the rise again.
And at the Senior League level and with only a few games played so far, the forms of Reggae Youths and Melbourne FC for at least 50 minutes against MBU should have mouths watering.
Daniel Rickets, one of the best schoolboy midfielders of his time, has pulled Wadadah out of the doldrums and with the backing of overseas investors who have bought into his dreams, have managed to lure some quality players to Montego Bay and with almost immediate returns.
They dominated MBU for long stretches in a Knock Out game in front of a large crowd at Jarrett Park two weeks ago and look set to launch a run of terror in the Super League.
With Reno FC, Village United and Tomorrow's People also legitimate contenders, the Super League will provide quality and could even cause those in the JFF who are thinking of restructuring football to think twice about their plans. Reggae Youths under the guidance of coach Oscar Irving and president Gregory Daley have not so quietly forged their identity in the lower leagues in St James and will get the chance to show their stuff on the national scale after qualifying for the JFF's all-island Flow Champions Cup KO. Reggae Youths have lost one game since late last season when they won the Division One to qualify for the Senior League. And since this year, they have won all the games in the KO, including taking the scalps of Super League teams Norwood Strikers and Granville United.
Irving has handled his troops like a true field marshal making all the right moves and outfoxing other coaches who might have better players at their disposal.
With the experience of 40-odd-year- old Norman Foster calling the shots from midfield, Melbourne Strikers were exciting at times against MBU on Sunday and one can just imagine what is to come if there are two other teams in the league like Melbourne and Reggae Youths.