As the Newfoundland Senior Menís Soccer League has come to a closure, obviously there are some great accomplishments and achievements that the organizers and the fans of the game should boast about.
How about the Canada Games Men Soccer Team? This team, lead by head coach, Vince Pickett, defied all odds and walked away as silver medallist at the Canada Games played in London Ontario. This accomplishment speaks volumes and proves that a coach should be judged on a teamís performance not on the merit of oneís personality. Somehow, I feel, justice does have a way of prevailing.
The Canada Games Team have ultimately raised the bar for the 2001 season. Only a gold medal performance by any of the remaining eight clubs participating in National Club Competition on Thanksgiving Day Weekend would allow another team to compete for the NLSA "Team Of the Year" award. Iím sure the same can be said for the NLSA "Coach of the Year" award.
The St. Lawrence Laurentians again marched away, mainly uncontested in the Newfoundland Challenge Cup League, with a very impressive record. The Laurentians of 2001, with 19 wins and one tie, illustrates that the Laurentians are in a league of their own. A seventh consecutive provincial title demonstrates St. Lawrenceís supremacy at the provincial level. The remarkable 18 Challenge Cup titles since 1967 is incredible.
With Rudy Norman winning the MVP award for the 2001 regular season, and MVP for the championship game being awarded to Richard Kelly, it again spells superiority and it looks good for the future.
During the course of the 2001 season, we have had our bleak moments as well.
The Canada Games Ladies had one of the provinces top female performers, Jennifer Parsons, absent from their line-up due to an internal conflict.
The absence of Richard Kelly, Clinton Edwards and Tommy Kelly from the Canada Menís Game Team may have prevented them from coming home with a gold medal.
NLSA President Clayton Welsh should have addressed these problems internally. It appears that the CSAís Angus Barrett, NLSA technical committee chairperson Trevor Paine, and the respective coaches of both the Canada Games Teams were front and centre during these controversies.
Where was the leader of the NLSA during this time of need?
Another black mark on the game of soccer resulted as a product of an incompetent referee officiating in a very critical play-off game being played between St. Lawrence and Marystown on August 25.
Marystown needed one point in this or the last game of the season to clinch a second place finish, thus having two opportunities to make it to the provincial Challenge Cup Championship Game.
Early in the game it was assistant referee Dale Slaney who informed head referee Keith Pike that Jeff Warren of Marystown United had committed a violation on Rudy Norman of St. Lawrence Laurentians. Based on the facts which Dale presented to the referee, Jeff Warren was red-carded although the referee totally missed the infraction. This incident may have initiated the following episodes.
Marystown although playing with a one man disadvantage was up by a score of 2-0, when all of a sudden a native of St. Lawrence exploded onto the field of play and attacked Darrell Stewart of the United squad.
Automatically, the referee should had gotten the St. Lawrence Soccer Association to remove the fan from the soccer pitch area before the play would continue. This removal did not occur and another incident happened ten minutes later when the same fan in question again entered the field of play and assaulted another member of the Marystown team, Dion Durdle.
Referee Keith Pike then should have corresponded with the more experienced assistant referee Kevin Pittman and called the game off because of the lack of security provided.
Unofficially, the game officials are the security personal provided to look after the players, although the NLSA rules states that security is the responsibility of the home club.
Iím surprised to hear that Marystown United didnít register an official protest with the NLSA concerning this controversial game.
The citizens of St. Lawrence were not impressed by this ugly incident nor were the St. Lawrence Soccer Association or any member of the Laurentian soccer team.
Are the Laurentian soccer fans proud of their team? Absolutely!
Are Laurentian fans disgusted with any black mark that hurts the game of soccer or dishonours our town? Absolutely!
In general, the citizens of St. Lawrence are great supporters of soccer and will not be tarnished by any one incident or any one individual who may bring discredit to our community.
Should the fans or citizens of Marystown feel responsible for the damage incurred by Laurentian star player Dr. Paul Slaney, who had windows broken at his chiropractic clinic after the completion of the Challenge Cup final in Marystown in 1999? I sure hope not!
During the Labour day Weekend tournament, I was again appalled that referee Keith Pike was the top official in Game 1.
Maybe the crisis that developed in the officiating shortage during the 2001 season came true.
Again, if a player can be disciplined for any violation or misbehaviour, the same should be said for incompetent officials.
I feel the apprenticeship program for officials should be upgraded to maintain higher standards.