Darrell’s knowhow a plus for Eagles’
The First Division title will be decided at White Hill Field tomorrow when promoted sides Somerset Eagles and Southampton Rangers close out their season in a top-of-the-table clash.
Eagles are seeking a win that would not only take them to 50 points and ahead of their opponents, but also leave them as the only unbeaten team in the two divisions.
They made an important addition to their backroom team during the second half of the season when they brought Gary Darrell, the former Bermuda coach, on board as a mentor.
Jenson Rogers, the Eagles coach, said Darrell, who also played professionally in the United States, “put a new battery in the guys’ packs” during the final few months of the season.
“It was good to get him in for the second half of the season; it gave the guys a new voice to listen to,” Rogers said.
“When you hear the same voice over and over sometimes guys can lose the motivation, but Gary came with different demands and different expectations.
“He was extra eyes and ears and his experience was a big help, along with Marlon Rojas [a former Major League Soccer player who coached the side last season] helping me grow this season as a coach.
“With me being a relatively new coach in my first senior job, I needed to put people around me who have done it.
“Gary was a part of the Bermuda team when Bermuda was at its peak. He brought a lot of that experience to Eagles and, with me bringing a new generation coaching style, it was a good mix.”
“The guys up there are very respectful and because he came in and spoke about what he had done in football they really understood where he was coming from and focused on what they could learn from him. In training he would pull certain players aside and give them pieces of information and I think they liked that.”
Tomorrow’s showdown should provide an exciting finish to the season with the title at stake.
“It’s a big match; people are looking at it like a Champions League final with a lot of bragging rights,” Rogers said.
“This could be the start of a rivalry, but we have prepared well and the boys know the task at hand. We’re coming up against a strong team and we’re not the favourites. I’m sure everybody’s got Rangers as the favourites, but we come into the game with just as much confidence as them.
“Winning the league would mean also going undefeated and that is definitely the end goal. Moving into the Premier Division next season we will have to strengthen the team and look to stay there for many seasons. We’re putting things in place now.”
The match will involve the top four goalscorers in the First Division, with Jarazinho Bassett leading with 20 goals, three more than Leo Burgess, of Eagles. Eagles pair Anwar Telford and Tahj Wade both have 14 while Donte Brangman, the Rangers captain and Bermuda midfielder, has 12 goals.
“We know it’s not going to be easy, they have to win to win the league,” Brangman said. “We are definitely going for a win, we want to end the season on a good note.
“We feel we are the better team and we want to prove that. We drew with them [2-2] in the first league game and then we beat them in the Shield, but we feel we owe them something in the league.”
Eagles earned promoted before their opponents after bottom team Vasco da Gama produced the upset of the season when they handed Rangers their first loss in two years.
The following weekend Rangers clinched promotion with victory over Flanagan’s Onions, reclaiming top spot in the process after Eagles drew 1-1 draw with Devonshire Colts the same day.
BFA officials will present the First Division title at White Hill before travelling to PHC Field to award PHC Zebras with the Premier Division title at the end of their match against Paget Lions. PHC wrapped up a record eleventh title on the weekend of March 9 despite losing 2-1 to Somerset Trojans.