English-born Central FC head coach Terry Fenwick has won the TT Pro League title a record three times in the T&T Pro League, in just over ten years of its existence.
Now, the Seaham-born lad is in pursuit of his first league title with Central and fourth overall. “We will be more than competitive this (season),” promised the former Tottenham Hotspur and England international defender. “We are looking at a top two finish… top one really.”
Fenwick’s three Pro League titles (2002, 2007 and 2008) have come during his coaching stints at the then financially robust San Juan Jabloteh, which, in 2012, suspended all its professional football operations due to financial constraints. Another Englishman Ricky Hill, a former club (Leicester City) and national teammate of Fenwick, won the only other Jabloteh Pro League championship in 2003.
Fenwick was sacked by the San Juan club in 2011, but has since then founded his academy, Football Factory, and balances his head coach position at the one-year-old professional outfit, Central FC. In January he replaced fellow countryman Graham Rix.
Fenwick and Central finished off the last season in fifth spot, a position dreaded by the 53-year old, with just 28 points and behind fourth positioned North East Stars (34 points), which is coached by the Englishman’s former apprentice and Jabloteh assistant coach, Angus Eve.
“Fourth will not be good enough for me,” said Fenwick who kicked off his club’s 2013-2014 pre-season campaign last Thursday. “Looking at other managers like Angus Eve (North East Stars), where they’ve had a good long pre-season and end up fourth.
That would not be good enough for me. “So we are putting our heads down. All my players will have a very strict, very disciplined and very hard pre-season. So when we come into that first game, they will be on side, in everything that we need to be.”
He said having his first Central FC pre-season gives him the opportunity to work with players and make sure they are well organised and disciplined, and that the players know what is required.
The no-nonsense coach kicked off preparations with a small group of players during Thursday’s session at Presentation College Ground, Chaguanas. The group included just three players, Marvin Oliver, Darryl Trim and Carey Harris, from the debuting 2012 Central FC squad at the beginning of last season.
Goalkeeper Marvin Phillip, presently with the T&T Senior Team in Florida, Miami, preparing for next month's Concacaf Gold Cup, is said to be the only other player from the Central debuting squad that is expected to remain within the fold.
Tobagonian quartet of Rundell Winchester, Omar Charles, Darren Mitchell and Dario Holmes, along with Jason Marcano, Johan Peltier and Hector Sam who all joined the club during the December-January transfer window have also been retained by Fenwick.
Notably absent was bulky Antigua and Barbuda striker Peter Byers, who was also signed during the December-January window and top scored for the club with ten goals in all competition.
But Byers, who also finished the league top scorer in 2007 under Fenwick at Jabloteh, may not be part of Central’s plans for the 2013-14 season according to a team official. Fenwick, however, was delighted to confirm the signings of former Jabloteh and St Ann’s Rangers defender Jamal Jack, 25, and midfielders Shem Alexander, 23, and Julio Noel, 20, also from the St Ann’s club.
His first phase of signings also includes 17-year-olds Nicholas Dillon (promoted from the Central U18s) and Rangers youth player Kevon Goddard along with 19-year-olds Dwight Pope (Shiva Boys College) and Javon Sample (St Anthony’s College).
“We cleared about 20 players off our roster,” explained Fenwick. “Players that are recognised all over the country as top players, but I think they are on the wrong side of (age) 25. “So I’ve brought the age group right down. I’ve brought in 17, 18, 19-year-olds. I want to show in the professional league and in T&T that at 17, 18, 19, you can be a top player.
You can be a national team player. During his time at Jabloteh, Fenwick was known for fielding teenaged names such as Lester Peltier, Khaleem Hyland, Elton John and Elijah Manners, and such a step is also common at clubs such as W Connection and Caledonia which are at present preparing for the Concacaf Champions League, which begins in August.