Sunset Football Club has plenty to celebrate after the men’s side cruised to the First Division title and the women’s team secured their league championship with virtually the last kick of the season.
Gareth Thacker, men’s head coach, has done a fabulous job in turning Sunset into a mediocre outfit in the lower tier to champions who look capable of challenging for more honours next season in the Premier League.
But they are fully aware that they need to raise their standards at the higher level.
Sunset won 12, drew two and lost only once in the First Division and Thacker puts that down to the hard work and dedication of the players from the moment they started pre-season training in August through to the final game and a 6-1 win against Future over the weekend.
The sole loss was against Roma in their third game which was the catalyst to go on an unbeaten run.
The top scorers for the season were Paul Hennessy with eight and Richie Addison with seven.
Andy Bellfield captained majestically with Ian Roberton as vice-captain a solid understudy.
The whole squad played well throughout the year with players like Dave O’Connell and Roberton excellent at the heart of the defence, alongside full backs Bellfield and Simon Jenkinson. Lee Parry was excellent in goal and the stalwarts of the team, veterans James Kennedy and Gary McLean, rolled back the years in many games. The midfield tenacity and vision of Addison, Joel Edwards, Kevin Guirey, Chris Turrell, Jonny McLaughlin and Dave Holland shone throughout.
Rob Crockett, Tim Edwards and Hennessy played up front on their own on several occasions and stretched many a defence with their intelligent runs and total effort.
The utility players such as Matthew Chin, Craig Linley, Darien Montague, Joe Diston, Paul Valenti and Dan Bryer never let the team down, playing an important role in the promotion campaign.
Thacker said: “Without taking anything away from any of the players, Lee Parry had a wonderful season and is the best keeper on the island. He reminds me of a young Neil Purton – only with better footwork!
“The toughest team we played this season was Roma the second time around and the 0-0 draw actually provided the confidence we needed when we met them in the third game and beat them convincingly 3-0. “The most satisfying result was when we beat Cayman Athletic 1-0 in the FA Cup because it showed how far we had developed as a squad and how well disciplined we had become in achieving our game plan.”
Thacker is under no illusions that games will be far harder at the top level.
“The Premier division will be tough challenge, one that the players are relishing and although I am looking to strengthen the squad with a few quality acquisitions the current players should be able to compete with most of the teams,” he said.
“We will train harder and myself and Patrick O’Neil (assistant coach) will be much more demanding from a technical and tactical standpoint next season.
“We lost to Bodden Town in the FA Cup. They are the Premier division champions and a very good side going forward and I expect us to test them much more the next time we meet.”
Roma were First Division runners-up and Thacker expects them to beat North Side who finished seventh in the Premier League for the right to be play in the top tier next season. That match is on Sunday.
“It should be a very close affair and if current form is an indicator Roma are favourites but I have no preference in regards to next season.”
Thacker is already planning for the demands of next season. He said: “Our pre-season training will start in early August and new players who feel they would like to join the club and try to make the squad of 25 are welcome to the sessions at Camana Bay.”