PHC Zebras were the most successful team last season, and have the trophies to prove it, but coach Scott Morton insists they will be starting from zero like everybody else when the Premier Division starts this weekend.
The Zebras, whose four trophies last season matched the achievement of their 1989-90 team, retained the Charity Cup when they beat Robin Hood 2-1.
Their Dudley Eve Trophy campaign begins tonight against Dandy Town at Goose Gosling Field, the first of three matches in the next six days for the league, Dudley Eve Trophy and Friendship Trophy champions.
“We’re not ‘defending’ any trophies, we’re going to win back trophies,” Morton said “How we look at it is we have zero trophies.”
Morton’s squad will be tested as Marco Warren, last season’s most valuable player, recovers from an ankle injury. Two other players, Keishon Bean and Jalun Hassell, are studying at South Kent Prep School in Connecticut, along with another local footballer, Jai Bean of Dandy Town.
“It’s day-to-day for Marco, but he’s progressing nicely and is getting his treatment,” Morton said. “He comes to training to test it out. We’re monitoring it and limiting his actions to make sure he is healthy for the rest of the season.”
The injury kept Warren out of Bermuda’s team for the Concacaf Nations League qualifier against Aruba in Curaçao, and Morton says he will not be rushed back.
“We can end up making the injury worse and then he could be out for weeks,” he said. “That’s the last thing we want to do.”
Morton was overseas when PHC beat Hood in the Charity Cup.
“Preparation has been going fine, the opportunity has been presented to a lot of our under-17 players, which is excellent from PHC’s standpoint, as it goes to show how well the youth programme is doing,” he said.
“I’ve called up about six of them. It’s not to say they are going to get a lot of minutes, but they need to start understanding that this is what they are going to be groomed into. Especially with a number of players involved with Bermuda programme in the Nations League.
“Those [Bermuda players] haven’t been able to train regularly with us, which was fine because they trained with the national team. They are getting international experience and all I’m asking them to do is bring that experience back, share it with the young players and existing players, so we can move forward.”
PHC meet Dandy Town in group A, with the Hornets needing a win to avoid elimination after their opening defeat by North Village.
In tonight’s second match, Hood take on Somerset Trojans, who beat Devonshire Cougars in their first game.
“We’re looking to build on from the Charity Cup game,” Morton said. “I wasn’t here but the information I got from the coaching staff and the players, it wasn’t their best performance.
“If Hood had put their chances away, they would have blown us off the pitch. We had a talk about that and to me there’s only one way to go based on that performance.
“This will be the second game for us and it will be important to stay focused on the new things we are trying to achieve. Last year, regardless of what we won or how we played, if we stay the same then we are going behind because other teams are growing.”
PHC open their league campaign on Sunday at home to Boulevard, before returning to Dudley Eve Trophy action on Wednesday against Village.