Brown keeps faith with Trojans youth brigade
Dennis Brown showed faith in the youngsters on Sunday, fielding five teenagers in the opening league match with champions PHC as he returned for another coaching stint at home club Somerset Trojans.
Brown expressed intentions to push the youngsters when it was confirmed that he would be taking over the coaching duties at the club. However, that was when he thought the club would be playing in the First Division after relegation last season. They got a reprieve when BAA dropped out of the league after a mass exodus of players, leaving the Trojans in the Premier Division again.
And while Brown recognises experience is needed, he still intends to bring along the youngsters, such as brothers Takyh and Khiari Sharrieff-Hayward, aged 20 and 18 respectively, who transferred from X-Roads and made their top-flight debuts on Sunday, playing in wingback positions. The brothers are the sons of Khari Sharrieff, the former Wolves and Dandy Town player.
“This is definitely their first time playing senior football in Bermuda because they were in school overseas [Maine] the last few years,” said Brown, who coached the pair at the Bermuda Brazilian Football School from about the age of 6, until they went to high school.
“One of the main reasons they went to Somerset was because of Dennis,” father Khari said. “Dennis used to coach me at Wolves during my time coming back from school, so there is some irony there.
“I think the coach determines the success of the team at the onset and then he builds players. Dennis's main quality as a coach that I liked is he brings discipline and experience.
“He coaches based on respect for the game, making your time and committing yourself.”
Brown added: “Once they found out I was coaching at Somerset, they called me and asked me if they could come. Naturally, I said yes.”
Goalkeeper Dequan Crockwell, 19, is another teenager getting an opportunity to impress Brown, a former Somerset and Bermuda captain. “The team gave a good account of themselves,” Brown said of Sunday's performance in the 3-2 loss to the Zebras. “I thought we had a good start with two very good chances in the first ten or 15 minutes, which I feel, with more experience, we should put away.
“The work ethic was there, intensity was there and I'm looking forward to us improving and learning as we go. For some of these guys, this was their first time in the Premier Division, including the goalkeeper, who did exceptionally well.”
Somerset took the lead in the 20th minute when the returning Leo Burgess was put clear of the PHC defence by a perfect pass out of midfield by Jaz Ratteray-Smith and kept his composure to score in a one-on-one situation with goalkeeper Shaquille Trott. Ratteray-Smith then scored a second-half penalty to make it 2-2.
“It was good to go ahead but then three moments of brilliance from Tre Ming hurt us. He was definitely the difference in this match with his experience and class. But I was very pleased; we put out five teenagers and I thought they acquitted themselves very well.
“I was pleased with everyone's intensity. One of the things we talked about before the game and the season was that our intensity needed to be at a good level to compete. We can only get better.”
Burgess just returned from Somerset Eagles, whom he helped to promotion last season, and one of Brown's first tasks was to make him captain.
“That was one of the things that I wanted: for him to come back to Somerset, even before I made myself available. He was the main one I wanted back at Somerset, and that was when I thought we were playing in the First Division.
“Yes, he was coming back. Once I signed, he was there. I had Leo when I was coaching the under-13s in Somerset and I know what he brings to the table. From the start of preseason, I saw his leadership and how the players respected him, so it was a natural thing for me to put him as captain.
“The captain must make sure he sets the example for his team-mates. Leo is a good example, always on time for training and never misses training.”
Keith Jennings is another player bringing a lot of experience with him after his move from North Village. “He'll be out there shortly,” Brown said.
Somerset's opener against the champions will be followed this weekend with another tough match, this time against last season's No 2 team, Robin Hood, whom Brown is tipping to be the team to push PHC again for the honours.
“Just looking at Robin Hood's team, that's going to be a very difficult match, even more difficult that PHC, I believe,” he said of Sunday's encounter. “I haven't seen North Village yet, but from the teams I've seen, I would say Dandy Town and Robin Hood will be there to be counted in the end.”
Certainly Somerset don't plan to be involved in another relegation fight, with Brown setting his sights much higher than that. “I don't want to put too much pressure on the team by saying anything public, but the team knows what is expected of them,” the coach said.
“I told them that you have another opportunity to prove that you are worthy of playing in the Premier Division, and that they have to take advantage of that.”