Humble Lion bank on 'Admiral' Bailey to lead glory charge

Friday, September 14, 2018

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Mike Henry, president of Humble Lion FC, is banking on veteran coach Glendon “Admiral” Bailey to guide the Clarendon-based club to their first hold on the premier league football title.

Humble Lion, who finished eighth in the 12-team Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) last season, open their 2018-19 account away to former winners Arnett Gardens FC on Sunday.

While noting that parting company with former national senior women's coach Merron Gordon, approximately two weeks ago is not the ideal precursor to Humble Lion's league campaign, he said the club is on the right track.

“The new season is shaping up. We do have a new coach in Glendon Bailey — he's taken charge and we're moving in the right direction,” Henry confidently told the Jamaica Observer after yesterday's launch of the competition at the Jamaica Football Federation headquarters in New Kingston.

“There has to be a little concern in the sense that last year we had a coach doing a similar thing at the last minute,” he said in reference to losing Gordon's predecessor Donovan Duckie ahead of the start of the 2017-18 season.

Duckie was the man in charge at Humble Lion when they topped the league phase in 2016-17 season — their best ever season in the RSPL. But they fell short at the semi-final stage, losing to eventual champions Arnett Gardens.

The much-travelled Bailey might still be stinging from a painfully underwhelming stint for Waterhouse FC last season which saw him losing the job just a few games in.

But shoving coaching changes aside, the Humble Lion president said lifting the national title remains top priority.

“Put it this way, winning isn't everything, but wanting to win is, so we're going there to win. We want to move in the right direction as I build out an academy structure across the broader spectrum of Clarendon football,” was his response to a question posed regarding the club's ambitions this season.

Henry, the member of parliament for Clarendon Central, backed up that aim by pointing to the calibre of players on Humble Lion's roster.

“It's a squad with reserves of talent. We have the number one goalscorer in Craig Foster and we have [midfielders] Andrew Vanzie and Wolry Wofe,” he told the Observer.

He noted the acquisition of Reggae Boyz midfielder Michael Binns, who is formerly of Portmore United, and towering, veteran defender Oneil Thompson. The former national player was an iconic figure at Boys' Town FC and more recently Arnett Gardens.

Though accepting the importance of injecting young blood into the Humble Lion set-up, Henry, at 83 years and old, currently Jamaica's oldest active member of parliament, is well attuned to the value of experience.

“As we move to emphasise on younger players, which is very important, we must equally look to resilience of older players who have contributed to the structure, and [understand that] a certain degree of experience is also important,” Henry concluded.

— Sanjay Myers

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