Cavalier prepare for life at the top
THE celebrations are over and the serious work has begun for Cavalier even as they bask in the glory of returning to the Premier League for the first time in 17 years.
Cavalier, a club rich in history in local football folklore, won the Premier League title in 1982, but have not played in the top flight since 1995.
Interestingly, the club, formed on August 1, 1962 by Leighton Duncan, won its promotion to the top flight on the 50th anniversary of Jamaica's Independence.
While elated with the achievement, coach David Lalor, who was a defender when the club last played in the premiership, has quickly turned his attention to the tough task at hand.
"Right now we're looking ahead for next season and what we will be doing in terms of preparation is getting our management team in place where the finances are concerned and getting the different people on board... that's really where we are now," Lalor told the Jamaica Observer.
"We had put some things in place where we can lay a better foundation, so it is not a see-saw thing... with the players that we are going to need. We're looking at players with the right mentality and character," Lalor declared.
Cavalier defeated New Green of Manchester, 2-0, on Sunday for their fourth consecutive win and easily qualified from the four-team all-island Confederation Play-offs on their third attempt, having narrowly failed over the past two years.
"It's really a sobering thing at this particular point. We are happy, but we have to keep a cool head and prepare for the next level because we really want to give a good account of ourselves," Lalor added.
Interestingly, in the year before Cavalier were relegated in 1995, they had finished third the season before and had high hopes entering that fateful season.
Now that they are back, Lalor knows that to remain in the league will be a tough task and the strengthening of the club is, therefore, of utmost importance.
"Players know that Cavalier is a fair team and they will get a fair chance to display their skills, so they will just have to play football, but we won't be bringing in whole scale players either," he noted.
As for the significant step-up in finances needed to survive in the Premier League, Lalor admits that a team is already in place to deal with that issue.
"There is a team that Cavalier has in place to deal with that and they have been doing some work before. That's the plan; to stay in the league.
"We'll always be playing to win and if at the end of the day the effort we make enables us to win the title, that's props to the club and management," he asserted.
The former kingpins of local football, who have been based at Excelsior Community College on Mountain View Avenue, have over the years been playing at various venues, none of which is theirs.
Constant Spring and Collie Smith Drive, the home of Boys' Town, has been utilised by the club in recent times.
Originally, the Stadium East facility was the home of Cavalier since its inception and during the days when they were known as 'Duncan's Destroyers' and pulled thousands to the venue each Sunday.
"There are a couple venues we are looking at with the view of tying up one, but we're eyeing Stadium East, and that is the main focus because it was our original home ground," Lalor revealed.
The black-and-white-clad Cavalier will bring the number of teams from the Kingston and St Andrew (KSAFA) Confederation to campaign in the Premier League next season to six -- half the total number -- and they could find it a challenge to maintain the coveted spot.
However, with a core of talented youngsters of which at least eight played in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup Finals for Jamaica in Mexico in July 2011, Cavalier are in good hands.
Oshane Jenkins, who captained St George's College to the schoolboy 'triple crown', along with schoolmates Romario Jones, Andre Lewis and goalkeeper Nico Campbell, are all part of the Cavalier set-up.
Additionally, there are Jason Wright of Wolmer's Boys' who scored most of Jamaica's goal in that qualification campaign; Zhelano Barnes of Excelsior High who scored against Argentina; Romario Williams of Kingston College and Patrick Palmer of Wolmer's.
Young Calabar prodigy Chevonne "Messi" Marsh is also there.
"We have used six of them already in a Super League game and we plan to continue to use them. They will provide the longevity for the club... Cavalier has a bright future," Lalor said.