In 2004,the St. Lawrence Laurentians are celebrating their 100th Anniversary and with Laurentians logo emphasizing Determination and Dedication, certainly the present St. Lawrence Laurentians coach must come to oneís mind. Soccer has been a major part of Junior Edwards life since he was a young boy. Edwards definitely has a passion for the game but in St. Lawrence, in order to survive the soccer fraternity and its critics, one has to be a winner. Junior Edwards is a proven winner and he has the credentials to show it. Since 1967, the St. Lawrence Laurentians have won an amazing 19 Provincial Challenge Cup titles. Whatís more amazing is the fact that Junior Edwards has played a vital part of 14 of these championships. He excelled as a player with the Laurentians on 8 of these Provincial Challenge Cup Championship teams, and as the St. Lawrence Laurentians head coach, he has coached the Laurentians to provincial supremacy 6 times.
As I questioned the Laurentians coach, I certainly made him aware that the pressure is on him and the Laurentians to recapture the Provincial Challenge Cup in 2004, after losing to Mount Pearl in 2003. But as usual, he remained very calm, cool and collected with his answers; maybe it showed a sign of his experience.
1.Q. What is your full name?
Clement Joseph Edwards
2. Q. What is your occupation?
At present I am employed at Fisheries Product International (FPI) in Marystown
3. Q. How long have you been involved with the sport of soccer?
Iíve been involved with the sport for 39 years. I started playing at the age of 12, that was Bantam. In fact, I played my first game at the first division level at the age of 15. For the record, I started my coaching career at the minor level in 1970.
4. Q. What is your personal motto that you coach by?
My motto is ďPlay FAIR and HARD to win!Ē I coach every player to give 110% all the time.
5. Q. What was your greatest accomplishment as a player?
My greatest accomplishment as a player was winning the Silver Medal in front of our home fans when St. Lawrence hosted the National Challenge Cup in 1977.
6. Q. What was your greatest disappointment as a player?
My greatest disappointment as a player was losing the Gold Medal to B.C. by a 1 -0 margin in front of those same fans when St. Lawrence hosted the National Challenge Cup in 1977.
7. Q. What was your greatest accomplishment as a coach?
My greatest accomplishment as a coach was winning the Silver Medal at the 2002 National Challenge Cup Finals hosted by St. Johnís.
8. Q. What has been your greatest disappointment as a coach?
My greatest disappointment as a coach was losing in 2002 to Manitoba by a 1 - 0 score. Nobody knows how heart breaking the loss was for the coaching staff and the team. Again I certainly felt for all of those fans that turned out to support us in St. Johnís.
9. Q. Name the top 3 players that you played with?
Gord you should rephrase that because it is hard for me to pick just 3 players because there are a lot of great players I played with in St. Lawrence. Some of my close friends are going to be upset with me now, but if you persist, here are the top three players I played with- Wils Molloy, Joe Turpin and Keith Farrell.
10. Q. Name the top 3 players that you played against?
The top 3 players I played against were;
Red Fizzard (Grand Bank GeeBees). Red was the player that had it all. He had lightning speed and a thunderous shot He used to give myself and Frank Pitman all we could handle on any given day.
Johnny Breen (Holy Cross Crusaders). Johnny because of his talent and the class act he is. He always played hard but when the game was over, everything was always left on the field.
Harry English (Grand Bank Gee Bees). Not only was Harry a great soccer player he had to be the toughest player I ever played against. We had some great battles on the field.
11. Q. Whatís one thing thatís related to soccer that bugs you?
I would have to say that the one thing that bugs me the most is that the fans always expect you to win every game. But, then again, perhaps thatís what makes our teams so successful. That extra pressure always ensures we play our best.
12. Q. As a coach, what are your best qualities?
My best quality as a coach is patience. Very seldom do I get upset during a game, and having played the game for so many years, I know pretty well everything that is going on. Although I guess there are a few referees out there who would disagree with me on this point.
13. Q. As a coach, what are your worst qualities?
My worst quality as a coach is sometimes I leave players in the game too long to try and work things out, when really I should be taking them out. I am very stubborn when it comes to taking players out of the game.
14. Q. Some fans feel that a feud has developed between you and Laurentians star player Richard Kelly? True or False
FALSE - I have always been in Richieís corner, no matter what, but things donít always go as well as planned. Sometimes a star player has to be treated a little differently.
15. Q. Which soccer personality inspires you?
The personalities that most inspired me over the years are- Herb Slaney, Alan Ross and Jack Simms. Actually these guys are all the coaches I had over the years. If you allow me to add a fourth individual, it would be Laurentians builder Len Slaney. He has done so much, and continues to do so much, for soccer in St. Lawrence.
16. Q. What is the most vivid dream you've ever had when it comes to soccer?
Iíve never had dreams about soccerÖmostly nightmares! First during my playing career and now during my coaching career, the thought of St. Lawrence losing scares me all the time.
17. Q. What is your most treasured soccer award?
In 1967 I was a member of the Newfoundland Bantam team that played at the first National Bantam Tournament in the province of Quebec during Expo 67. Being named MVP at that tournament is my most treasured award.
18. Q. Whoís one player you'd love to add to strengthen your team?
There is one player that is playing for another team that I would definitely add to the Laurentians if given the opportunity. Itís Alec Turpin. After having coached him for a number of years, I know how hard his strong physical presence has been to replace.
19 Q. After 2004, what is in store for Junior Edwards and the St. Lawrence Laurentians?
2004 is going to be my last year coaching at the senior level. The future for the Laurentians, as we pass the 100-year mark for soccer in St. Lawrence, is bright. We have a newly rejuvenated minor system and there are a lot of young, promising talent on our current team. Iím confident our future will be every bit as successful as our past.
20. Q. If you were president of the NLSA what's one thing you would change?
As president of the NLSA, I would emphasize club championships over the All- Star format because I feel that is what has ruined many club teams today. When you only have 2 or 3 elite players from each community who get the opportunity to play outside the province, itís very hard to keep the other kids interested. There was never any shortage of Challenge Cup teams in St. Johnís when the old club system was in place. Loyalty to your club and your distinctive colours was always a mainstay for soccer here. We need to bring that back.
Gord Dunphy is a former 1990ís Challenge Cup All - Star coach of the St. Lawrence Laurentians and National Bronze Medallist. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com