Adrian Frater | Bravo coach Reynolds, well done Rusea’s
I was at Jarrett Park in Montego Bay in 1984 when Rusea's High School won the daCosta Cup title for the first time. While I cannot remember much of the intricate details about the game, I can still remember the wild celebrations and the talks about a cow being 'curried' in the Lucea town square for the celebrating fans.
While Rusea's have won many more titles since 1984, including their historic schoolboy football grand slam (daCosta Cup, Ben Francis Cup, Olivier Shield and the now defunct Nutrament Shield) in 1985, I believe their recent 2017 daCosta Cup win is perhaps the sweetest, as it was seemingly unexpected.
At the start of the season, the 'Russians,' as the Rusea's team is affectionately called, were unusually subdued. With a new coach in Vassell Reynolds, who the fans knew very little about, many of the fans adopted a wait-and-see stance, refusing to fully committing themselves to the possibility that the team could win. However, Coach Reynolds and deputy, Montego Bay United FC's captain Dwayne Ambusley, set new goals as they moved from strength to strength. Things began to look pretty good for the Russians by mid-season as while they were not dominating many opponents, they were holding their own.
After their ISSA/FLOW Ben Francis Knockout Cup defeat to Dinthill Technical, followed by an ISSA/FLOW Super Cup battering at the hands of Kingston College, many fans began looking to next season, saying the team was not yet championship ready. However, after toppling St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) 5-2 in the daCosta Cup semi-final, Coach Reynolds' team suddenly began to look ominous.
ScEPTICS NOW BELIEVERS
Having toppled STETHS, even the fans who were sceptical for most of the season suddenly became believers, joining the diehard counterparts in predicting the team would win the title, even ignoring the fact that their opponents Clarendon College were still unbeaten in the competition. When victory came, the eleventh daCosta Cup title for the school, the joy was uncontrollable.
While the Rusea's players deserve special commendation, I believe the vast majority of the praise should go to Reynolds. First, it was quite brave of him to take on a team like Rusea's, whose history clearly suggested that they are accustomed to winning. In addition, the fans are known to be very tough and demanding on coaches.
Taking Rusea's to the coveted title at his first attempt speaks volume for Reynolds' coaching attributes and clearly showed that the success he enjoyed with Wolmer's Boys in Kingston was no fluke. He confirmed that, if given good material, he has the skill to generate success.
My one concern for Reynolds is that, having set such a high standard in his first year, he will be under extreme pressure to keep repeating year after year. As I stated above, the Rusea's fans are intolerant of failure and they could well be thinking of dynasty to match that of Emerson 'Diggy' Henry in the 1980s.
My hope for this Rusea's team is that like the victorious teams of the 1980s, the players will not just settle to be schoolboy stars, but like Michael Graham, Donald Hewitt, Mark 'Haglar' Wilson, Caple Donaldson, Steve 'Shorty' Malcolm, Kenneth 'Blacks' Gaynor, Linton Stewart and Aaron Lawrence, strive to represent Jamaica at the highest level.
I am also hoping that, with Cornwall College winning last year and Rusea's winning this year, it is signalling a return to schoolboy football dominance in the west. History has shown that within two or three years after a daCosta Cup title, a Red Stripe Premier League title usually follows.