Blankendal excited about Town’s opener
Cal Blankendal will prepare Dandy Town for their season-opening Dudley Eve Trophy match against North Village on Monday as head coach Devarr Boyles is overseas.
Boyles, who has returned to St John’s Field this season, will miss the group A tie against his former side at PHC Field at 5pm.
Much of the early season focus will be on PHC Zebras, the defending league champions, and Robin Hood, the FA Cup winners, who meet in the Charity Cup at Bernard Park at 5.30pm on Sunday.
The Dudley Eve Trophy double-header will also feature Somerset Trojans against Devonshire Cougars at 3pm.
Town, who placed third last season, could face a season of rebuilding after the departure of 14 players, although many of those were fringe players.
The four more established players who have left the club are Tomiko Goater, Dominique Williams, who have both joined Hood, and Ian Coke and Ernest Trott, who have returned to Boulevard.
Blankendal expects Town to be built around experienced players such as Damon Ming, Angelo Simmons, Lynn Tucker and Kwame Steede, who has relinquished his coaching duties to concentrate on playing this season.
Boyles worked with the team during preseason before heading on vacation.
“Training has been going good and the players have been receptive to the sessions, the information they have been given, and the tasks assigned to carry out,” Blankendal said.
“We’re trying to play a bit more tactical this season but will continue to have the individual skills of a Dandy Town system.
“With veterans Kwame Steede, Damon Ming, Lynn Tucker and Angelo Simmons still on board, there’s a good balance throughout the spine of the team.”
Diionne Millett, a youth team coach, and trainer Gladwin Richardson have also helped prepare the Town players during preseason.
“We have under-17 players who will be embedded into the team throughout the season,” Blankendal said.
“We’re looking to have at least three or four of them part of the team on a consistent basis.
“We have also picked up a young player, Omar Wilson from Flanagan’s Onions, who can play in various positions. He is a utility player, he has a good grasp of the game, has good physical ability and speed. We will look to exploit his attack-minded skills.
“He is a cousin of Damon Ming, originally from Dandy Town, and we’re glad to have him back.”
Blankendal added: “The first game is critical as it lets you know where you are. Can we be tactically strong and mentally strong?
“It’s been a good learning experience for me, having dealt primarily with youth players, locally and overseas.
“I’m enjoying it, the players have reacted positively in the absence of Devarr.
“Having completed the Uefa B licence two years ago with Devarr Boyles and Scott Morton [the PHC coach], it’s only right that, as I have the qualifications required by the BFA, that I make myself available when needed.
“Once Devarr indicated he was off island, [the club] asked me to step up.”
Blakendal is tipping PHC to again be the team to beat.
“There’s not been a lot of movement [of players] and they still have a core nucleus of young players coming through their programme.
“That’s what we need, somebody to set the standard, and everyone trying to take the top team off their No 1 post.
“Town have been in that position for many years and we recognise that no matter where we are, we’re always considered one of the teams to beat.
“Everyone considers us as a No 1 club.”