My Journal: Life as a Manager

tbuc

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Entry 1 (June, 25 2018): Introduction


Hi, my name is tbuc and this is my journal. I recently became the head coach of Jamaican side, St. Bess F.C. If you told me even as little as six months ago I’d be coaching a semi-professional club I would’ve laughed but, here we are.

Here is quick background story about myself and how it all came to be… I was born and raised just outside of Washington, D.C. Growing up, there were two things l loved: football and the beach. Lucky for me, my parents allowed me to enjoy both. I played soccer, as we call it in American, pretty much year-round and the only time my parents could pry the ball away from me was on our family trips with family friends to the beach in the summer. Little did they know I had my ball packed between my swim trunks.

I will never forget the first time I was lucky enough to visit the beaches of Jamaica. After leaving, I just knew I would one day call this tropical nation home. I just needed to figure out how. Ideally, I would play professional football for many years and when I was ready to hang up my boots, I would retire on a beach in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it as a pro. Two ankle breaks and a torn ACL later I found myself playing in the lower leagues in the United States before I called it quits and tested my luck in coaching. I did land a coaching gig with one of the former clubs I played with and we won three league titles while I was there! Unfortunately, the United States don’t have pro/reg, so the trophies didn’t mean I would become an MLS coach.

I will never forget the day, it was on my 31st birthday, DC United called and asked if I would take over their U23 team. I really didn’t want to leave the team I had just won three titles with, but landing a job with an MLS side, even at the youth level, was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. After just three years I was asked to be an assistant manager for the first team. This was my chance! There is no doubt that I learned a lot in my time with the Black-and-Red, but once the head coach was let go I became unemployed. After 10 years in the corporate world and coaching a handful of local youth teams, I had enough money saved up to pack my bags and move to Jamaica. I was able to work remotely for my current employer and I just knew it was time to move as it seemed my time as a coach was over.

After just two months of living in my new condo overlooking the ocean in Montego Bay, I bumped into former Bolton winger, Ricardo Garnder. We talked over dinner, which turned into beers, about his career in England and his time with the Jamaican national team. After learning about my experience as a coach, he told me to join him one day at a training session at St. Bess F.C. One day turned into a week and before I knew it I was on a first name basis with the team president as well as Ricardo, who was their interim manager. At the end of the 2017/18 season Ricardo told me he was just managing the team for fun until the president could find someone with actual experience. My first thought was “I wonder if my experience in the U.S. qualifies me for this job.” Little did I know I was overqualified as St. Bless are a second tier side playing at the local “Lacovia Sports Complex”.


 

tbuc

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Entry 2 (July 1, 2018): Club History


I’ve been here for about a week and have learned a little bit about the club I’ve taken on. What I’ve learned: The club is based in Saint Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica, more specifically the town of Lacovia located on the Black River. As far as the club, there isn’t much history. St. Bess, nicknamed the “Killa Bees,” were formed in 2013 and participated in the St. Elizabeth Major League, which is in the Jamacian third tier. After two seasons, the club were named Parish Champions and gained promotion to the second tier where we sit now. Since joining the South Central Super League, their best season was their first, when the reached the League Finals and lost 2-0 to Jamalco.
 

tbuc

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Entry 3 (July 15, 2018): The Schedule


With our first friendly match less than a month away I had a chance to sit down with our team President, Taye Hayles, who helped me understand how the league works. We are one of the 12 clubs in the Jamaican South Central Super League. Each side plays each other twice. The bottom four sides get relegated, while the top four qualify for the Semi Finals. The top team plays the fourth place side and number two plays three in a two legged playoff. The winners will play one match in the Final. The South Central League is one of four leagues in the Jamaican second division. The leagues are organized by the club location, hence us taking part in the ‘South Central’ league.

As far as league cups, we will be one of 56 clubs taking part in the JFF Champions Cup. Participates in the cup are all from the Jamaican first division and all sides from the four second divisions. It’s seems like just taking part in the cup will make the board happy. That means my focus will be solely on the league. Fighting for promotion in the league and bring in as much money as possible will be my objective.




 

tbuc

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Entry 4 (August 25, 2018): The Team


Now that we know about the league, let’s take a look at the team. Putting the squad together has been a long, stressful process. Like I’ve mentioned, we are a second tier side in the Jamaican South Central Super League, so what do I have to lose? We started with just four full-time players on the roster when I took over, while the rest of the roster was filled with local, part-timers who earn their money elsewhere. Our left back, Aiden Scarlett, is a bartender at a five star resort down the road and our no. 6 in the midfield, Pablo Barnes, is a 17-year old who helps his father run a local corner store three miles from the sports complex where we train and play our matches. Those are just two examples. Ricardo has been kind enough to stick around and help get me organized. One thing he made clear was how difficult it will be to bring in new players. There is a big difference in salary between the top league and the second tier, so most fringe players available on a free will hold out for a chance to play in the National Premier League. Our best chance is to poach players from the lower leagues. However, with a scouting department of one man, getting information on any player will be hard to get.

Signing players will be a lottery. It sounds like I just need to bring in anyone willing to play. With next to no money, I just want to fill the roster with as many full time players as I can. We need to build chemistry and I need to learn what these players have to offer. That will be impossible if our team is filled with players who work elsewhere and have different schedules.

Lucky for me we brought in one player fairly early! That man is Ronique Francis who we plucked from Village United for a hefty price of $200. He will be our star in the midfield and sporting the no. 10 shirt. After a month filled with rejections we finally landed our second signing. Christopher Waugh joined us from Meadhaven for $180. He has one U20 cap with the national side to his name. Technically he’s not great, but he does have some pace and works hard off the ball. Our last two signings came from the same club Ronique Francis left to join us, Village United. The first was keeper, Keith Hamilton. Although we already have a first team keeper, Hamilton is an upgrade and bring first division experience with him. For $20, I thought he was a steal. Lastly, Valbert Campbell was brought in for $25 on deadline day. He will be a mainstay on the right side of the midfield. With his plus stamina, pace, and agility, he was handed the no. 7 shirt.

Before I was brought in a manager there were four full-time players already on the roster. Thankfully, two of them were center backs who will be key in stopping our opponents. First we have Donovan Alvaranga, who has 101 cap with first division side, Cavalier to his name. He is physically strong and great in the air. He will be a major threat for us on set pieces as well. He will partner up with Sean Fogah. He may be our best player, but is upset as I refused to sell him on when a handful of first division sides made offers. Roybert Clarke will be our backup keeper this season, although he is a strong option himself. I will try to get him on the pitch when I can to keep him from getting upset until I can fill the roster with more first team players. Finally, we have 42-year old loanee, Kevin Wilson who is here from Arnett Gardens. He has two national team caps and MLS and Jamaican first division experience. My hope is, with that experience, he will be the leader in the locker room.


 

tbuc

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Entry 5 (August 27, 2018): Pre-Season


Our pre-season is coming to a close as we have now completed our five friendly matches. It was a tale of two halves, really. In the first three matches I had the team run out in my favored 4-2-3-1 formation, which clearly did not work. After not winning a single match to three lower league sides, it was clear something had to chance. With only eight first team players, we switched to a 4-4-2, which allowed seven of the eight in the starting IV (we have two first team keepers). Boy did that make a difference. We won our first match since the chance 2-0 to another second division side, St. Ann Bauxite F.C. who will be competing on the Eastern Super League this term. And we closed our of friendly’s with a 6-0 thrashing of lower league side, Salt Spring Roses. Our star player was Ronique Frances who bagged seven goals in five matches.
 

tbuc

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Entry 5 (September 7, 2018): Preparing for the Start


We’re roughly 48 hours from our first match of the season and I have no idea what to expect! I’m sitting in my cramped office at the Lacovia Sports Complex looking for any bit of information I can find on our first opponents. Oddly enough, I see we are predicted to finish higher than them in the league, yet they are the favorites leading up to the match? I don’t get it.

We have eight first team players on the roster, therefore keeping our guys healthy will be vital. Right now we are fully healthy and I hope it stays that way. Looking at the league preview The Jamaican Soccer Daily put together, we should be finishing in a playoff spot. However, the board is asking I avoid relegation. Honestly, I don’t know what will happen. What I do know, my nerves are getting the best of me and I just want to get the season started. I’ve been up later than I’d like over the past few days pacing around my condo and the office just hoping we can stay afloat this season and hoping we can find some additional players in the next transfer window, which isn’t until January. With just one scout on the payroll, I’m not sure this club can afford to allow him any vacation time between now and when the window opens. But hey, this is Jamaica. He lives in paradise.


 

tbuc

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Entry 7 (September 9, 2018): Our First Cup Draw


I felt like a fan sitting in front of a TV at the Lacovia Sports Complex with Ricardo Gardner to my left. The draw for the JFF Champions Cup was about to take place. Although the competition was not a priority for us, it was still exciting to see who we would come up against. As fun as it would be to play against a first division side, deep down I was hoping we would be drawn against a lesser squad, so I could exceed the boards expectations who only wanted me to reach the first round. I wondered if they didn’t realize that the competition started in the first round. We didn’t even have to play a match and the board would be pleased. After the Jamaican Football Federation president finished his generic speech about how exciting the tournament will be, he introduced Usain Bolt of all people to draw the teams. After five minutes of waiting our name came up. We would be playing at home! The next name out, and our opponents… it’s Sandals South Coast. They’re a club located in the bordering Parish to our west. I didn’t know anything about them until Ricardo informed me that they were a second tier side playing in the Western Super League. After a quick Google search I find they were pre-season favorites to finish second in the league.
 

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Entry 8 (September 30, 2018): My First Month as Manager


We’re five competitive match in and the nerves are finally gone. I’m sure a big part of that has to do with our flying start. Even though we’ve won four of five, I’m still not convinced this run will continue. I didn’t think we were a class above Fraser’s Whip in the season opener. We were away and I told the lad to be cautious. The last thing I wanted was the boys coming out too aggressively resulting in us falling behind early. We went into halftime level 0-0 and I was convinced the boys could get us a winner if I loosened the leash a little. It was our star man Ronique Francis who bagged our first goal of the season. With just over ten minutes left in the match our veteran striker, Kevin Wilson put the game away and we collected all three points in the opener. Up next we hosted pre-season favorites Sporting Central. This would be a real test. 2,712 people showed up for this one and the atmosphere was electric. At least for a second tier match in Jamaica I thought so. Sporting were clearly the better side and scored a deserving goal 24 minutes in. The score should’ve been a lot worse heading into halftime, but the bar saved us twice. With my blood pumping from all the noise from inside the ‘stadium’ I tried my damndest to share my energy with the players. It must’ve worked as our main man Ronique Francis bagged three goals to give us a 3-1 lead. Sporting tried to turn up the pressure at the end, and did score their second in the 90th minute, but again Kevin Wilson sealed it in added time. That’s six points from two matches! With the boys filled with joy we headed to the Holland Sports Complex filled with confidence. We were on the front foot from the start, but couldn’t find the end product leaving a handful of great chances begging. Finally in the 21st minute our rock in the middle of the defense, Sean Fogah scored off a corner kick. We kept the pressure up and were rewarded a second from another corner kick, this time from Kevin Wilson’s striking partner, Chrisopher Waugh. When I thought we had the three points in the bag, we blew it in the end giving up two goals in the final four minutes. I rested six of our eight full-time players for the cup match knowing the board didn’t care what the result would be. It turned out to be our most boring match of the month with both sides failing to string together any sort of attack. Luck for us we won a penalty in the 50th minute and that was all it took. We left in late in our final match of the month. It wasn’t until the 90th minute when who else? Ronique Francis scored the winner which was followed up by a 94th minute consolation goal by our main man up front Kevin Wilson.



Like I said before, I don’t know what to expect this season. That though didn’t change when the board asked us to avoid relegation and the media pegged us to fight for a playoff spot. Although it’s early days, fighting for a playoff spot could be a realistic goal. Time will tell!


 
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tbuc

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Entry 9 (October 1, 2018): Another Cup Draw



I was seated on the couch next to my mate, Ricardo for our second cup draw. Our first match saw us defeat Sandals South Coast 1-0 thanks to a penalty. With a strong start to the season, I’m now starting to build some confidence in the squad and maybe I’ll survive as a manager for more than one season! But, hey, let’s not get carried away just yet. After seeing yet another Red Stripe commercial and a handful of second tier sides paired up against one another, I’m starting to think we’re going to be matched up against a National League side. If we’re lucky enough to draw a home game, I’ll be all for it... And there it was! Our second home match in the cup! Who are we paired again? Dunbeholden from the National League. I jump off the couch and give Richardo a fist bump. Let’s be honest, if we lose, who cares? If we win? We’ll be on top of the world. We’ll have one league match before we welcome in the boys from Spanish Town.
 

tbuc

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Entry 10 (October 4, 2018): I’m High in Jamaica


What a match. I did say in my last entry that this cup match would be our second match of the month, but my excitement must've deceived my eyes. It’s now the morning after our second cup match and the first thing I did after waking up was get on Skype and call my parents. “Mom, Dad, we did it!” At first they had no idea what I was talking about it. I told them last month I had become a football manager again, but they had no idea to what extent. I told them about St. Bess and how we came up against a top tier side last night in the second round of the Champions Cup. After a quick walk through of my condo with my ipad to show my parents my living corridor's, I sat down with my cup of coffee and told them exactly what took place at the Lacovia Sports Complex last night. Although this was another meaningless cup match to the higher ups, I wanted to test our boys against a first division side. They may be sitting at the bottom of the table, but earned the right to be playing in the top tier. It was a nervy start for us, but Dunbeholden were slow to get started. Our first real chance came in the 21st minute when Ronique Francis lined up to take a free kick from 20 yards out. At this point everyone knows he capable of magic when on the ball. He took his chance and the home crowd cheered as they watched the ball bend into the back of the net at the near post. Even with the lead, I didn’t want to just sit back and defend. The momentum was on our side. In the locker room at half time, I told the boys just how much fun I was having and how much it would mean to the fans and themselves if they could pull this off. Just five minutes into the second half, our center back, Sean Fogah, picked up a failed through ball in his own box. With no pressure, he took a few dribbles and played a long ball over the top of the Dunbeholden defense. It was a foot race and Christopher Waugh ran onto the ball just inside the opponents box. He took one touch before rolling the ball under the keepers arm and into the net. At that point I figured let’s sit a little deeper and force Dunbeholden to long distance shots. Just minutes later another long ball over the top was won by Kevin Wilson. He froze, let a defender run by him, and banged one just inside the far post and into the side netting. Sense at the LSC!! From that point it was all Duneholden and they eventually got their goal from a long distance rocket into the upper ninety. I told the players to stand firm as we were just four stoppage time minutes away for a victory. Just two minutes later, the same thing happened. Another Graeme Green rocket into the back of the net. Lucky for us it was too late and the away side ran out of time. Off to the third round!


 

tbuc

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Entry 11 (October 4, 2018): Round of 16 Cup Draw


I never thought I’d be writing up two entries in the same day. But, that’s just how excited I am about this team and the season. After two wins in the cup it was time to tune into another episode of ‘The Cup Draw’ as I have now started to call it. This time around I decided to enjoy a cold beer as I watched. It’s clear once you walk into any corner store, the Jamaica’s love their rum and Red Stripe. I choose the latter. With nine of the 16 teams left coming from the National League, I prepared myself for another tough match. I didn’t want to get my hopes up that we would be paired against a fellow second tier side if I knew the odds were against it… After sitting in front of the TV for 20 minutes I learned our fate. We will be up against middle of the table National League side, Cavalier. It will be a homecoming for our two center backs as both called The Stadium East Field their home earlier in their careers. We will be heading to Kingston in just six days.
 

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Entry 12 (October 10, 2018): Cup Defeat


I can’t say I feel all that upset about losing our first match. We previously beat a first tier side and, in this match, I elected to run out a handful of part-time players in favor of the first teamers. We were away from home and when it really came down to it, the cup really didn’t matter. Why risk injuries? You can tell by looking at the stats, we were played off the pitch in this one. I would say we held our ground in the opening 20 minutes, but after Cavalier scored their first goal we had our backs against the wall. They did score three in total, but it very well could’ve been much closer to ten. Much of the credit must go to Roybert Clarke who was class in net.

Now it’s time to head back to the training ground to tell the boys to write that one off as our focus is solely on the league where we currently sit second.


 

tbuc

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Entry 13 (October 31, 2018): Full Attention on the League


Sandwiched between our two cup matches we were off to the small village of Porus to face bottom of the table side Porus F.C. who were still searching for their first point. I thought this would be an easy three points, but I had to keep the boys focused as I’m sure most of them had their minds on Cavalier in our upcoming cup match. The distraction showed as we only managed to win 2-1. In fairness we had plenty of chances to make it worse, but goals from Ronique Francis and Christopher Waugh were all we needed. After exiting the Champions Cup in our third match, the boys came out flat in the next fixture in the league. It didn’t help that we were up against three of the top four sides in the league. We were home to Rivoli United and we had the best two chances to open the match, but their keeper stood strong keeping the score level before Sheldon Watkins put the away side up in the 26th minute. He had a shot from the top of the box which was blocked. Unfortunately for us, our keeper dove to his left expecting the shot to get through. Instead, the ball hit our defenders leg and right back to Watkins to roll the ball into an empty net. The team was unconvincing for the rest of the match and Rivoli found their second in the 80th minute to put the game away.

I knew I had to change something as we were in our first rough patch. We needed to snap out of it quite as our next two matches were against clubs who were right there with us fighting for a top four spot. Our first match was against Black Stars who were three points behind us, so I would’ve been happy with a draw. That would keep us in the top four. However, it wasn’t meant to be. They are our local rivals to the south who play their football in our Parish’s capital of Black River. I didn’t have to saw much before the game as our captain Donovan Alvaranga rallied the boys on the bus ride over. His inspiring words paid off as we broke the deadlock just three minutes in and I just prayed that goal would get us out of our funk. That wasn’t the case as the home side bagged three in the second 45 and we dropped another three points. That’s three straight defeats, two in the league.

The last match of the month would be our biggest yet. We were set to welcome table toppers Vere United who were yet to drop a single point in the league and were coming off a 6-0 thrashing of Treadlight. It was vital we get on the board first and get our fans back on our side. With ten minutes left in the first half, that was exactly what we did. It was Christopher Waugh who got us on the board thanks to a lovely back heel flick from his striking partner who set him up. The two boys up front connected again just three minutes later and we went in the locker room at halftime 2-0 up. I told the lads that if we could hold them off four 45 more minutes then certainly we were a playoff team. They just had to prove it to themselves. Vere got one back in the 76th minute, but we held firm and closed out the month with a much needed win.




After the defeats to Rivoli United and Black Stars, we dip to fifth in the table. The good news is we won’t have to face any of the top four sides next month. If we can win out in November we should jump right back into a playoff spot while the other clubs above us drop points while playing each other. The day after our match against Vere I told the boys we were very much in it. I taped a large picture of the league table on the wall in our meeting room. I don’t like being in there as we have more players than chairs, but I was excited to close the month out with a win, so I wasn’t too bothered. The first thing I pointed out to the boys was that the top two teams in the table had only dropped three points thus far. And the only loss both teams suffered were to us. We’re eight games into the season and with only 12 teams in the league it’s a 22 game seasons. We’re coming up on the halfway point and I’m trying to keep the atmosphere light and positive. We’ve been fortunate to have a strong backing from the fans in our home matches. And we’ll need their support as we look to finish inside the top four.



 

tbuc

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Entry 14 (November 31, 2018): Past the Halfway Marker


We’re just over a third of the way through the season and now I’m starting to get a good idea of how good this team is. The board asked for us to avoid relegation, which shouldn’t be a problem at all. My belief, we are clearly one of the top five clubs in this league. It’s time to switch from a cautious approach to attacking. The boys are full of confidence after the win against the table toppers, Vere.

We headed to the fishing town of Alligator Pond to face a club who go by that same name. In the match, our defense held strong winning what seemed liked every long ball as we dominated possession. It took just four minutes for our veteran striker, Kevin Wilson, to connect on a cross from our left back and it was 1-0. We finally got our second just seconds before halftime. A long ball over the top to Wilson’s partner, Christopher Waugh led to our second. He was clear on goal and rolled the ball past the keeper to give us a 2-0 lead into halftime. The second 45 was more of the same, although Alligator Pond did score one of their own, but that came after our star player, Ronique Francis scored a peach of a free kick from about 25 yards out. Wilson bagged his fifth goal of the season in the 78th minute to add insult to injury. We followed that up with a home match against Treadlight. Again, we came out with an attacking mindset, which led to us having 25 shots and 9 on target compared to five shots and two on goal by our opponents. Unfortunately, those stats don’t matter and the 1-1 final was what counted. Ronique Francis bagged his ninth of the season in the first half, but we couldn’t find a second. Christopher Waugh had three good looks, but it wasn’t his day. Luckily Black Star dropped all three points in their match and we were a point above them and sitting in fourth.

In our third match, it took 12 shots for us to finally get one on target. The good news, that first shot on net was a goal. It was everyone’s favorite local bartender, Pablo Barnes bagging his first goal and the first of the season by any of our part time players. That goal turned out to be a big one, as York Town leveled the scoring in the 59th minute. We continued to be wasteful in front of goal, so I told the boy to remain positive and try to avoid getting frustrated. Finally, we got the winner in the 76th. Our center back, Donovan Alvaranga, found himself on the edge of the box after York Town headed out a corner kick. Alvaranga chested it down and blasted it toward the far post, past the diving keeper and into the net. It was a peach of a goal for any center back at any level. The final match of the month was a thumping of Frasier’s Whip. Francis bagged a hat rick and Wilson scored two of his own. It was our most comfortable win of the season.



The top four teams make the playoffs. For me, I don’t care where within the top four we finish as long as we can stay there. At this point, the board will be happy with me at the end of the season as all they cared about was avoiding relegation. Currently, we sit in the all important fourth spot with a four point advantage, but will still can’t afford a slip up as we still have to face fifth place Black Star. In the first match against them, they took all three points against. Next month we only have four matches, three of which are very winnable games will the fourth being the most important. We start the month on the road to second place Sporting Central who are second in the table. We should go in with some belief as we got the best of them at home.

 

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Entry 15 (December 31, 2018): Heading into the Holidays



The first match of the month saw us lineup against second place side, Sporting Central. We were missing our top center back Sean Fogah through yellow cards suspended. With that we came out very defensive, plus I dropped one of our four midfielders deeper into the no. 6 role. The boys did their job, whereas a point was all I really wanted. Sporting did have three pretty good chances at a winner, but Kieth Hamilton stood form in net. After a big away point we were home to Holland PYC. After focusing on defense last match, I told the boy to come out and attack in this one. I’m not sure if the team forgot where the goal was, but our forwards never got into the game, and our hero, Ronique Francis, did have another strong display, but was absent in the final third. Very disappointed to drop three points in this one with gap between us and Black Stars is now just two.

We were up against two teams in a relegation fight in our final two matches of the season. At this point in the season a match against any side outside the top five was a must win. The boys did exactly what was expected of them winning 3-0 at Old Harbour Bay and followed that up with a 6-1 thumping of Porus. Striker, Christopher Waugh bagged four in the latter match.



The lead over Black Stars got a little more comfortable after they only managed six points from four games this month. That is great news as the fixture list shows us up against third place Rivoli, fifth place Black Stars, then first place Vere next. It’s make or break time for the ‘Killa Bees.’

I have decided to give the boys a week off to relax and clear their minds before we head into the final six matches of the season. My plan is to end back states side for most of that time to catch up with family and friends. It will be busy once I return as January brings us another chance to bring in fresh faces. More importantly, I will have a talk with everyone here to make sure no one is upset over anything. The last thing I need is to return to the island and here two players forced a move out.



 

tbuc

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Entry 16 (January 9, 2019): Heading into the Holidays



Our unofficial and belated holiday break is over. It was nice to head home to Washington D.C. and see some snow, but I’m not complaining. I live near a beach with lots of sun. With that trip over, it’s now time to get back to work, however. Right when I got back on the island and unpacked my bags I headed to the sports complex to sit down with our scout and team president.

The transfer window is open and, like last window, our goal is to get in as may players as possible as long as they fit in our budget. I was pleased to hear our staff reached out to every team in the National League and most clubs in the second tier here in Jamaica to see who was available. Unfortunately, finding players wasn’t easy. There were a fair amount of clubs willing to dump players on a free, but just about all of them weren’t willing to join us or wanted a salary above our limit. There was some light at the end of the tunnel in the loan market as we had two player who’s club was willing to let us bring them in for the rest of the season, but again the players just weren’t interested. For now the focus is back on the pitch as we have a big clash against third place side Rivoli. Over taking them in the table seems highly unlikely, but if it were to happen, this is a must win match.


 

tbuc

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Entry 17 (January 15, 2019): Russell adds some Muscle



Our goal this transfer window is to bring in anyone who is willing to join us. Last summer I learned just how hard it is in this league to find players willing to join a new club in the second division. This January window has been no different. We’ve found a few players who were willing to at least listen, but the wages they requested where well above what we had saved in the bank. There is some good news, however. Jermaine Russell joins us on a free from Constant Spring. After spending just three days in Jamaica's capital city of Kingston, our scout called to tell us that he had found a player stuck on the bench with fell second division side, Spring. His club was willing to just let him go after appearing in two games this season and he will immediately join our first team. Naturally, he’s more of a playmaker, but with Ronique Francis already taking up that role, Russell will need to sit a little deeper.
 

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Entry 18 (January 30, 2019): The Battle for a Playoff Spot is on


We were on the road at the Spanish Town Prison Oval to face Rivoli United in our first match of 2019. They took all three points when we played them at home, so all I was looking for was a point. The boys went out with a defensive mentality, which led to a boring game. We went into halftime 0-0 holding Rivoli to long distance chances never truly testing our keeper. Going forward we did a great job in search of steal a goal on the counter, but we were unable to find the back of the net. In the second 45 our striker, Christopher Waugh picked up a red and we were down to ten men for 27 minutes. The defense held strong and we left with an important point and a 0-0 draw.

We closed out the month with a match against fifth place Black Stars. This was a massive one as we sat in the final playoff spot while Black Stars were just five points back. Coming into the match we knew we would be with our key striker, Christopher Waugh, who picked up a red card in the match against Rivoli. We played this match in front of a sold out crowd of 3,000 and the fans were in for a good one. It took just 14 minutes for the stadium to erupt when we went up 1-0. Part time left midfielder, Jauvaney Menzies put in a peach of a cross for Kevin Wilson to out jump the two center backs and head into the top corner of the net. From there the match was pretty balanced and after Black Stars missed a second half penalty, the momentum was on our side. It was another part time player, Annsert Ranger, who put the game away in the 88th minute. It was our new man, Jermaine Russell who slipped in Ranger to roll the ball past the keeper and into the bottom right corner.



Three of the four playoff spots have been locked in. After the win against Black Stars this month we are now in full control of the final spot and will a massive advantage in goal differential, we should be just one win away from locking in that spot. The battle at the bottom of the table is on to say the least. Alligator Pond and Old Harbour Bay are in a tough spot.

 
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