MONTEGO BAY, St James — After being out of national club football for more than a decade, former two-time National Premier League champions Wadadah FC have put themselves back in the picture to at least make a run at returning to the top league in the country.
Wadadah FC have won their last four games in the Jamaica Football Federation Captain's Bakery and Grill Western Confederation Super League in style, outscoring their opponents 15-1 and are riding a 295-minute run since conceding their last goal going into today's game against Catherine Hall at Jarrett Park.
While the season is nearing the midway point, the potency of Wadadah's line-up has firmly established them as the team to beat, despite a good Reno FC and a dangerous Tomorrow's People in the reckoning.
They lead their zone, one point ahead of Village United, as both seek a spot in the end-of-round final and have momentum on their side.
Since being relegated from the Premier League, Wadadah have won the Western Confederation Super League on at least two occasions, but have failed to make it past the JFF Qualifying Competition and, to rub salt in their wounds, watched bitter rivals Seba United (now Montego Bay United) and Reno FC return on several occasions.
Wadadah were at the forefront of the western assault on the national club football title and between the 1986-87 season when Seba United won the region's first title, to the 1996-97 season when they won the most recent, combined with Reno FC, Violet Kickers to win nine times.
Then the leaders in signing players from outside their region on semi-professional contracts, Wadadah FC won in the 1987-88 and 1991-92 seasons and were back-to-back Federation Cup KO finalists, losing to Hazard in the 1999-2000 season and Harbour View in the 2000-01 season.
A series of management changes and other internal issues led to Wadadah's demise, but a number of years ago, a former player and one of the best in their glorious history, Daniel Ricketts, took on the task of reviving the once most feared club in the land.
Cuphead, as he is known, would be the first to tell anyone who cared to listen the job was not easy, but his patience and persistence has finally borne fruit.
During the offseason, Ricketts said he approached several persons and one, an overseas-based Montegonian, believed in his cause and has agreed to finance the team over the next three seasons.
Armed with a budget, Ricketts's first job was to secure the signatures of several young and talented players and the positive results came almost instantly.
Coming in through the doors during the January transfer window were former Portmore United player Mario Swaby; former MBU player Olivier Trail; Demar Dohman, who played for Rusea's High this season and played two games with Savannah SC in the Red Stripe Premier League; and schoolboys Tyshan Hill of Spot Valley High and Alex McFarlane of Cornwall College, who is a starter.
Another newcomer, former national player Keneil Moodie, played for MBU this season, but is out nursing an injury and is expected back soon.
Other players have made pledges, Ricketts said, and if they are able to qualify for the Premier League next season, more talented players would be making the trek to Wadadah.
"I am still getting calls all the time from players, not just from the west, either," he reported.
Ricketts confessed to the Jamaica Observer he was surprised at how quickly the new players bonded with those who were there before. "To be honest, I did not know the team would have come together so quickly, but it's a good thing," he said in an recent interview.
His only problem right now is the lack of management and technical support, but he says "success will take care of that, once we get to where we want to be, I am sure we will get all the help we want".
Ricketts, who played on several national youth teams, was not shy about where he thinks the team can end up this season. "It won't be easy, but we can realistically win the Super League and then I think we have the depth to challenge any of the other Confederation winners."
There is still a lot to be done as Wadadah still do not have a home field and share the overused UDC field with several other teams for training purposes and must wait for the field if there are games scheduled.
Presently they train five days a week, Monday and Tuesday afternoon and mornings, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.