Ian Coke avoids relegation scrap but sympathises with Parish
The decision by member clubs to scrap the football season left Ian Coke, the X-Roads forward, with mixed emotions … relieved not to be in another relegation battle but sorry that his former club will not join him in the Premier Division next season.
Coke was relegated last season with Boulevard, whose fate had already been sealed mathematically before the global pandemic stopped football with only one round of league fixtures remaining.
He joined X-Roads for a new challenge, and to link up again with former Hamilton Parish team-mate Donovan Thompson. However, he found himself facing the threat of relegation again, with his new team second from bottom after eight games. Three teams were due to be relegated this season to return the Premier Division to its normal complement of ten teams.
Five points separated the bottom five teams, with X-Roads, promoted for the first time in 2017-18, only three points behind Devonshire Colts and Southampton Rangers in seventh and eighth place. They had five points from eight matches, with a solitary win over Colts on November 21.
“At X-Roads we felt we could always turn our season around, but to be given a fresh start next year is also a blessing,” said Coke, who was still looking for his first goal of the season when matches were stopped in December.
“We didn’t get off to a good start at all this campaign, so this is an opportunity for a fresh start. Hopefully, everybody is refreshed, rejuvenated, fuelled up and ready to go.
“We had a lot of injuries, kids were going off to school as well, so hopefully some of our key players will be back from school after their final year. With Donny [Thompson], I’m looking to work alongside him some more, to be able to get the groove clicking again.”
Coke and Thompson helped Parish to gain promotion and win a third straight First Divsion Shield title in 2013, with Coke their top scorer as the club returned to the top flight after a three-year absence under coach Keishon Smith.
This season Parish were headed in the right direction, unbeaten at the top of the First Division, level on points with Young Men’s Social Club, but with a game in hand.
“They’ll just have to go back and work at it,” Coke said of his former team. “They had a strong team with a lot of young [players], but what’s really sad is that a couple of the young players who were doing real good, their season comes to nothing.
“They had a nice goals-per-game ratio and that will be invalid in the future.”
Coke was referring to the likes of Jordan Outerbridge, who led the division’s scoring with 11 goals, which earned him a call-up to the national squad ahead of upcoming World Cup qualifying matches.
“My good friend, Shayne Hollis, is there,” Coke said. “I went to school with Shayne at Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia, Canada, and played with him since I was about 11,” he said. “We always played for different teams; the first team we played together on was Parish. ”
Other Bermuda players at the university at the time include Keishen Bean, Seion Darrell, Darius Cox, Antonio Lowe, Jason Davis and Jacqui Simons.
Boulevard were just off the promotion race this season as they began rebuilding after the disappointment of relegation. Coke hopes for better tings for them as well.
“Even with Boulevard, I hope a restructure can happen and be an eye opener for them because they’ve got another chance to keep the club going.,” he said.