Soccer

Youth development still key for Brown

  • Sticking to his guns: Dennis Brown Still intends to groom some youngsters as Somerset Trojans get a Premier Division lifeline following the withdrawal of BAA (Photo by Mark Tatem)

Survival will now be the main goal for Somerset Trojans, now that they have been given a Premier Division lifeline, but coach Dennis Brown still intends to bring along some youngsters during the upcoming season.

Somerset Trojans’s place in the top division was recently confirmed by the Bermuda Football Association following the withdrawal of BAA. However, the returning coach, who recently spoke of developing youngsters in the First Division after the team was relegated last season, still intends to put an emphasis on young talent as they prepare for the new season which starts next month.

The club got a reprieve two weeks ago when an exodus of players during the transfer window left BAA with insufficient players, forcing them to withdraw from the Premier Division after just one season back in the top flight. Somerset, who finished ninth, were allowed to stay up so as to keep ten teams in the division.

The club was given additional time — Monday was the deadline — to secure players in transfers, some who might have left the club because of the relegation. One of those, Justin Corday, is going ahead with his transfer to Robin Hood, while the club did pick up former player Leo Burgess during the initial transfer period, even after helping Somerset Eagles gain promotion last season.

Veteran strikers Keith Jennings and Lamaul Crofton have also joined the Trojans from North Village and Somerset Eagles respectively.

“My biggest pick-up is Leo Burgess coming back, that’s a big pick-up for us,” said Brown ahead of Thursday’s release of the transfer list by the Bermuda Football Association.

“Our first training session was July 4 and he was there. He’s been there from the beginning, we were in the First Division then but he was definitely coming back to Somerset.”

Burgess, who left the Trojans last season, was the second highest scorer in the First Division last season with 17 league goals, three less than Jarazinho Bassett of Southampton Rangers, the other promoted club. Two of Burgess’s team-mates, Anwar Telford and Tahj Wade, scored 14 league goals apiece.

“I have mixed emotions but now the plan has to change, although we’re still going to be dwelling on young players in the team, surrounded by experienced players,” Brown said. “Like I told the players, it can be a blessing if we take it in the right context.

“Now it is a matter of getting ourselves in tip top condition to compete at a higher level like we did last year. It’s a big opportunity, I always say that things don’t happen by chance, things happen for a reason.

“We just have to take advantage of the second opportunity that we have to play in the Premier Division. We have capitalised on BAA’s demise.”

Brown, a former Trojans captain and a product of their successful youth programme, returned to the club in June as technical director and head coach soon after they were relegated.

“One of the things I see in a positive light is that the team got relegated and I can basically now start working from scratch,” Brown told The Royal Gazette at the time. “A lot of the young guys will be looked at before some of the older guys.

“I’m looking to go real young, with about four or five experienced guys who really set good examples for the younger players. When you get relegated you have to look to rebrand, bringing in the youngsters with no pressure.”

However, survival is obviously a priority for the Trojans who have won ten league titles, nine FA and eleven Friendship titles. “One of the things I recognised from watching Somerset last season was the fitness wasn’t up to par,” the coach revealed.

“This year the fitness level will definitely be up to par in order to compete with the bigger teams. At the end of the day I’m not worried about who isn’t there, just worrying about developing who is there.

“Corday’s gone, thank you for your contributions to Somerset, but now I’m paying attention to the guys who are there.”