CLARENDON, Jamaica — Calvert Fitzgerald has spent the last three seasons in the National Premier League wilderness plotting Rivoli United's return to the top flight. And now that he's back, the veteran coach said, "It's a really good feeling."
"I have done a lot of work at this level, but I always enjoy bringing a team to the Premier League than anything else. It gives you more challenge and ultimately more satisfaction," said Fitzgerald, a former Tivoli Gardens, August Town, and Waterhouse coach.
In getting Rivoli back to the premiership, Fitzgerald had two main challenges.
First, he had to do without the services of the club's goalscoring hero Devon Hodges, whose time away from the team was divided between the Vietnamese league and local outfit Tivoli Gardens. His second task, and perhaps the hardest, was to gradually rebuild a squad of
But, as it turned out, returning to the premiership without Hodges was easier said than done.
On their first attempt at gaining immediate promotion, Rivoli fell short in the play-offs. The following year they didn't even make it that far, losing to New Green in the final of the South Central Confederation Super League.
"Goalscoring was our main problem," admitted Fitzgerald, "so we brought back Hodges."
In addition to bringing back Hodges, Fitzgerald also replenished the squad with young players.
"For about seven, eight years, Rivoli had the same set of players," added Fitzgerald, "and every time they went up to the Premier League they would come back down. We definitely needed additional players to help strengthen the squad".
Now back in the Premier League, Rivoli and coach Fitzgerald were celebrating big time on Sunday as they notched their first win of the season, beating Sporting Central Academy 1-0 at Juici Patties Park, thanks to a first-half strike from Hodges.
"We came to attack Sporting Central," said Fitzgerald. "We played two games, which I thought we could have nicked, so coming into this one we were hoping that we would be third time lucky.
"We put in the work," he added, "but I'm still disappointed with our finishing. We could have scored four goals. But, it's our first win back after three years; we are on five points and we haven't lost any games, so I'm happy for the one goal that we scored."