University of the West Indies (UWI) Blackbirds have clinched their first ever Digicel-sponsored Barbados Football Association Premier League title, while Empire have gone back to familiar territory after being demoted to the Division one from whence they came.
UWI ended the final game of the league season in grand style with a 14-0 trouncing of Rendezvous last night at the Wildey, St Michael AstroTurf. It was a tight battle for the title in 2016 and after losing out on goal difference to three-time defending champions Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP) last year, UWI returned to capture the trophy by a one point (45 to 44) margin.
Two weeks ago the pathetic Pinelands organization turned up with seven players and although their numbers reached ten, they were battered 21-0 by UWI. Last night it was further embarrassment for what is supposed to be Barbados’ top-flight football when ridiculous Rendezvous started the match with eight players. They were under siege from as early as the fourth minute when they conceded the opening goal and by halftime the score was 14-0.
It will never be known how many goals Rendezvous might have conceded by the end of the game. But, depending on which side of the fence one sits, the farce was thankfully brought to an abrupt end during the break. Referee Adrian Skeete came out at the start of the second half with his linesmen along with the UWI players and blew off the game after Rendezvous’ manager informed the Barbados Football Association officials present that they were unable to field a team in the second half because two of their players were injured and they had insufficient players to continue.
After the debacle that transpired with the Pinelands team when they were virtually abandoned by their senior players with the Under-17s having to fill the void, this was a further blot on what is supposed to the island’s top-level football. The BFA should investigate what really transpired in these two games that have not been the best advertisement for the premiership and did the paying public a disservice.
UWI’s goal scorers were led by Mario Harte, who has had success captaining the BDFSP in the past, and has now done the same with the University lads. Harte, a top national striker, netted yet another hat-trick scoring in the 24th, 26th and 26th minute to end the season with the most goals – 29. Corey Barrow also bagged three in the 4th, 12th and 34th minute, while Dario Harewood found the nets in the 39th, 40th and 45th minute. Shamari Mark had two in the 7th and 19th minute along with one each from Jario Lombardo in the 11th, Remy Samuel in the 29th and Ranaldo Bailey in the 38th.
The victorious side coached by Ricardo ‘Cracker’ Goddard had an outstanding season with a total of 18 matches played, 15 wins and three defeats. They had 80 goals for and 19 against. Main rivals BDFSP also played 18, won 14, drew and lost two with 59 goals for and 13 against.
Ironically, UWI won the championship against Rendezvous who were promoted to the premiership the same year as they were in 2014.
Speaking with Barbados TODAY after the victory, Harte said the players put in a lot of hard work throughout the season and he was glad to see it pay off in the end. He explained 2015 was a year of transition for UWI because many of the players were simply trying to hold their own but this year they really gelled and got the victory. He noted that 2016 had been one of the best for him personally.
“After coming back from not winning anything last year I said that this year I wanted to get most goals and honestly I set out for fifteen goals this year but I surpassed that by a lot. So I am happy,” he said.
In another decisive clash Empire’s short stay in the premier league came to an end yesterday after being beaten 2-1 by Clayton’s Kola Tonic Notre Dame. Both sides needed to win in order to stay alive and after a 1-0 lead thanks to Andrew Tudor in the 30th minute, Notre Dame, coached by Renaldo Gilkes, came from behind and broke Empire hearts with two match-winning goals by captain Kyle Gibson off a penalty kick in the 50th minute, and then a fine strike nine minutes. Empire will now join Solaris Pinelands who failed to win any of their games and were earlier demoted.
Meanwhile the BDFSP defeated Direct TV Paradise 4-0 to end their season on a high. Their goals came from Shaquille Stewart in the first minute, Jamal Alleyne in the 38th, Raheim Sargeant in the 44th and Khalil Gill in the 77th respectively.