Busy start to season as BFA sticks with plan to revamp Dudley Eve tournament
The Bermuda Football Association is sticking with last year’s plans to restructure the Dudley Eve Trophy competition, placing a big demand on club grounds in September when opening football matches will compete with cricket in its final month of the season.
However, Shannon Burgess, the chairman of the BFA competitions committee, said efforts have been made to schedule most of the matches at night and at grounds that don’t host cricket like Goose Gosling Field and Bernard Park.
The Dudley Eve tournament will involve all ten Premier Division teams for the first time. That will result in more matches which could clash with cricket which will have their own double-header cricket matches as they complete the season with the T20 Tournament.
The Bermuda Cricket Board recently released its T20 schedule which will see that season finishing on October 1, a month after football’s scheduled start on September 4 and 5 with the Charity Cup match between Dandy Town and Devonshire Cougars.
The following day, Labour Day, will see the start of the Dudley Eve Trophy with a double header involving the four teams from Group B – Somerset against Boulevard and PHC versus X-Roads.
The next day will see two more matches, a night double-header involving Robin Hood against Hamilton Parish and North Village against St George’s.
Burgess believes opening up the competition to all teams in the top division creates a level playing field, rather than four teams missing out on the opportunity to start their campaign along with the top six teams.
“The competitions committee ordinarily looks at ways to improve senior competitions and that’s included in our strategic plan,” Burgess said yesterday.
“Last year we had a think about it and we drafted a schedule to include all eleven Premier teams plus one First Division team. Earlier this year we made the decision to formally revamp the competition to include all ten Premier Division teams.”
Burgess added: “In our view this leads to a positive impact on fitness and competitiveness for those teams, while the remaining four teams that did not participate [previously] did not have the benefit of the same level of competitive matches.
“We’re really looking to level the playing field somewhat, so we decided to tweak the structure of the tournament to include all ten Premier teams. I’m sure all the teams are excited because they are all into competitive matches just prior to the kick-off of the league campaign.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how it works. We’re not starting any earlier, at least for the last four years we have kicked off the day after the Charity Cup which is the night before the Labour Day holiday.
“Because we have more groups we can have back to back match days and are also able to spread it whereby the rest days are six or seven days for particular teams.”
The new-look competition was to start last season and involve four groups of three teams, but the season did not begin until October 30, no time to fit in the extended competition which ended up not being played.
Now, the plan have been revisited, with ten teams in the competition this time and the focus of the first month of the season being on that tournament.
The Dudley Eve competition, which began in 1978-79 and named in memory of Dudley Eve, a former BFA director, was initially held over the Christmas and New Year’s and involving the top four teams in the then First Division at the halfway point of the season.
The tournament was given extra significance in 2009 when it replaced the popular early-season Martonmere Cup which involved the top six teams from the previous season.
That competition, which would have been 50 years old this season after starting in 1972-73, was named in honour of former governor Lord Martonmere and had Devonshire Colts as its first champions following a 3-2 win over Somerset Trojans in the final.
Now all the teams in the top division will be involved, included promoted sides Hamilton Parish and Boulevard. The teams will be placed in three groups, two containing three teams and one with four.
Dandy Town, the league champions, will top group A which also involves fourth place North Village and St George’s (seventh), while group B will be the only group with four teams, involving PHC, last season’s league runners-up, Somerset (fifth), X-Roads (eighth) and Boulevard.
Devonshire Cougars, third last season, head group C, where they will play against Robin Hood (sixth) and Hamilton Parish, the First Division champions last season. The final will again be traditionally held on the November 11 holiday.
Play-off matches to determine the final two quarter-final places are scheduled for Saturday, September 24, the weekend before cricket ends, and then there will be quarter-final fixtures on October 5 and 12, followed by a semi-final double-header on October 26.
“Cricket will be going on until October, but we do work closely with the Bermuda Cricket Board regarding scheduling and we’re looking to play mostly evening matches to avoid conflict with cricket,” Burgess assured.
“Also we’re going to be using venues that are going to be offline by then or do not host cricket matches. Goose Gosling Field, Bernard Park and Devonshire Rec have agreed to come offline to help us start the tournament.”
Group A: Dandy Town, North Village, St George’s
Group B: PHC, Somerset, X-Roads, Boulevard
Group C: Devonshire Cougars, Robin Hood, Hamilton Parish