'We were meticulous,' says Ludlow Bernard

By Dwayne Richards
Observer writer

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

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Kingston College (KC) head coach and first-time ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup winner Ludlow Bernard has credited the preparation of the team during the course of the season and the players themselves during the last 10 minutes of the final, for ending the 32-year drought.

KC twice came from a goal down to defeat St George's College (STGC) 3-2 inside the National Stadium last Friday to lift the Manning Cup trophy for the first time since 1986. The win set of wild celebrations from the “Purple” faithful, many of whom had never witnessed a Manning Cup victory in their lifetime.

Bernard, who spoke to reporters on Monday during celebrations at the school, commented on the fortitude of this bunch of players who finally brought home the coveted title to 2A North Street.

“We put in quite a lot of work throughout the season; I think we were very meticulous in our preparations. We prepared the team to get to this point and in the final it was basically a situation of taking the horses to the well — they have to drink, and drink they did.

“They were well prepared to deal with the situation. What transpired in the last 10 minutes of the game, a lot of the credit has to go to the boys. We would have probably prepared them to have the fortitude and the capacity to deal with that kind of pressure and they in turn delivered. They wanted it badly, so I lift my hat off to them.”

He credited the composure shown by the boys after falling behind to a very good STGC team twice, as well as the overall positive energy within the team.

“One thing that was quite significant was that when the team was down no one got flustered, there was no quarrelling, it was just positivity. That positivity started with me from we advanced to the semi-finals, because I used to be very miserable with the boys and I said to them I am going to ease off of that now and be more positive in everything.”

Bernard admitted to having irked a lot of the fans when he made significant personnel changes towards the latter part of the season, but explained the rationale behind the move.

“The make-up of the starting team in the latter part of the competition were players tailor-made for my system which required hard running, mentally tough players. A lot of persons would have complained that the skill players, which everybody wants to see, are on the bench, but it was all part of the plan.”

But the plan required adjusting at half time during the final as they were under serious threat from Neville Bell and his team.

“They come, they do the dirty work and then we introduce the skill players. but on Friday evening things weren't going according to plan, so we had to draw for the skill players and they delivered. By that time they would have realised that hey, this is serious stuff and they needed to get real serious now.”

Trayvone Reid, who had been a victim of the personnel change, was called upon at the interval and his performance over the second 45 minutes earned him the man of the match award.

“I indicated to him (Trayvone) a minute or so prior to the half time break, because we saw what was happening out there and I said to him young man get ready! I said to him and Jahmari Morrison get yourselves ready, I didn't have much to say to him (Reid) then, I told the trainer to get them warm.”

It was after the half -ime team talk that Bernard would give his young charge the licence to destroy. Reid got the equaliser for KC six minutes after the restart and had a hand in the other two goals scored by his teammates, including the 90th-minute winner.

“When we came back out for the second half I went over to him and I said to him, Trayvone look at the crowd, this is your moment, this is what you live for. Your style of football will endear you to this crowd, just go out there and do your stuff, play the Trayvone Reid game — and that is exactly what he did.

“He went out, he had that mean face, that mean look that meant he was all about business and when he scored the goal I saw him make a beeline directly in my direction and I knew exactly that we had this one covered.

“Even when we went down 2-1 we still kept going, and going and going. One of the problems that I was having with him is that he was not beating persons, [but] this time around he really did execute.”

The winning goal came from the most unlikely of sources, Nathan Thomas, a player whom trust and respect were given. This may not have happened if the coach had trusted his first instinct.

“At that time we were down 2-1 and I was thinking that we needed to add another attacker. We had nothing to lose at that stage of the game, the person who should have been replacing him was Renato Campbell. He is an experienced campaigner in his last year of Manning Cup, just like Trayvone so he should have been motivated.

“Renato hadn't played since we played St George's College the first time, so I also said to him that this has to be your moment as well. You have to go out there and give me even 10 minutes of your experience, so give me everything that you've got.

“But once Thomas saw Campbell get up he knew that it was going to be him, even without me saying anything and he came across to the sideline and said that he didn't want to come off; he said that I should believe in him, he said that he is gonna do it. Thomas is the type of individual that you really have a certain amount of trust for based on his performances and his attitude throughout. So sometimes a coach will give in to some of the requests of the players, he was one such player.”

Oneeko Allen was the man withdrawn following which the fairytale ending ensued with Thomas scoring only his second Manning Cup goal in three years, the first of which came from the penalty spot in the first round of the competition.

“We made the change with Oneeko Allen, who by the time his energy level was going down and I told Nathan to tell Jahmari to push up further with Trayvone because those are the two trickiest players we had on the pitch and Renato would provide the passes. But Nathan chose to go further up the pitch, almost like a forward, but it really was to disrupt the build-ups and the starts of the St George's College team, which was an initiative that he took…and it worked out in the end.”

Bernard who will be preparing his boys for the final game of the season this Saturday which is the Olivier Shield against daCosta Cup champions Clarendon College, had a parting shot for his critics who have continuously compared him to other winning coaches and said he would never win the Manning Cup.

“Respect to Miguel Coley, 5-2 in my favour, Neville Bell, it's 7-4 in my favour.”

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