Sunset Football Club used to be widely seen as a team for mostly British expats who enjoyed the social aspects of the sport rather than having a competitive edge. They would win occasionally but were never a threat for trophies and were never feared by the better teams.
But all that changed a few years ago when everyone got more serious and now they are one of the stronger sides in the Premier League and never a pushover.
The women’s team has dominated its league for years and the men’s results are improving annually. There are not many well-schooled goalkeepers in Cayman, which cannot be said of Lee Parry, the Sunset stopper who started his career with English pro clubs Coventry City and Birmingham City before settling at semi-pro Moor Green. The Sunset keeper for the past four years, Parry has been instrumental in the side’s transformation into league and cup contenders.
Sunset drew 1-1 with George Town at the TE McField Annex on Sunday. Tex Whitelocke pounced on a through ball to put George Town ahead before Tim Edwards grabbed an equally impressive equalizer before halftime.
Sunset included newcomers who have joined from other leading teams like Scholars International and Roma United.
Striker Kiegel “Stamma” Atkinson has played for many clubs since arriving from Jamaica some years ago and Sunset is his latest. Accomplished cricketer Conroy Wright has been part of the Sunset setup for years.
Sunset are one of the best run clubs in Cayman. They have two main annual fundraisers which generate plenty of interest and club cash; the popular six-a-side competition and the visit of a British football legend for a question and answer session and golf competition. It was Kevin Keegan in June and previous icons have included Kenny Dalglish, Sir Geoff Hurst, Jack Charlton, Peter Shilton, Bobby Robson and even boxer Frank Bruno.
Sunset’s gradual rise is why Parry is optimistic this season. “We are very confident of competing this year,” he said. “We have a strong squad and have a great atmosphere and morale within the team. We see ourselves competing in the top three this year.”
Since the age of 6, Parry has enjoyed the beautiful game, the highlight being playing for Birmingham City Under-18s and representing them in an European competition in Milan, winning the competition and defeating their Borussia Dortmund counterparts in the final. Being part of a team, the competitive environment and sheer love of the game is what keeps the 30-year-old food and beverage manager at the Marriott hotel motivated.
The keeper’s job is normally the least sought-after position, but for Parry, it was an instant attachment. “One good game as a goalkeeper in the school playground and that was it, I knew what my position was.” He played rugby and cricket at school but they were never serious distractions from football. “My main aim is to continue to enjoy the game. That’s the most important thing, especially at this level.”
He moved to Cayman in 2005 but did not get back playing until joining Sunset in 2011.
He is from Solihull, a suburb of Birmingham, so playing for them was thrilling.
“As a youngster I grew up idolizing Peter Schmeichel who was with Manchester United at the time. He was pretty much the No. 1 in the world then and took keeping to a new level.”
Parry has seen a “huge improvement in the state of Cayman football over the past few years.”
He added, “The facilities are great and standard of the league is getting better each year.
“Getting the local communities involved more may help to increase attendance at games. Broadcasting of games and full reviews in papers for each game may help to attract more fans into the game.
“Regional competitions or teams visiting from nearby countries and islands can only help the game in Cayman get to the next level.”