Let’s rewind back to September last year.
It’s the start of a brand new season in Trinidad and Tobago (Pro League) and there is a fervent atmosphere building outside the Hasely Crawford Stadium as W Connection travel to St. Ann’s Rangers. In the previous campaign, Connection had finished in a respectable third place but were eager to improve on that here.
The Savonetta Boys recorded a resounding 0-7 win, with left-back Kurt Frederick bagging the first hat-trick of the season. This was to kick-start a formidable run of form for the club, who went on a five-match winning streak before drawing a blank against Caledonia. In fact, Connection are the only team in the Pro League this season to be undefeated – they haven’t lost yet in 12 fixtures.
Indeed, the club are simply running riot with 27 goals scored, five conceded and the curtain isn’t drawn on the season until May. Manager Stuart Charles Fevrier has got his men playing slick, incisive football with an end product.
A whole 15 points separate Connection and second-place Point Fortin Civic Center, and it would take something pretty miraculous for the latter to usurp the league leaders in the table. Fevrier has already stated he’s looking ahead to next year with this season’s business seemingly done and dusted.
Connection are no strangers to success. They have four Pro League titles to their name, the latest coming two seasons ago as they clinched top spot by one point. By their exceedingly high standards last season was a blip, but credit should be given to eventual winners Defence Force for being so consistent throughout. Fevrier also steered his side to success in this season’s Digicel Charity Shield, Toyota Classic and FA Trophy; supporters want silverware and Connection have it in abundance.
Without question, Connection’s squad is one of the finest in the Pro League. Their mixture of youthful exuberance and veteran steeliness has proved to be the perfect blend.
Owner David John-Williams, who founded the club back in 1986 with the help of his brother Patrick, and the scouting team have been busy in the winter transfer market (which runs from mid-December to late January). Four new St Lucians, a Cameroonian midfielder, a Surinamese striker, and a product of the youth academy, Shahdon Winchester, have all been brought in to strengthen the squad.
Fevrier was born in St Lucia and takes a shine to footballers who also hail from the island. Eden Charles is the pick of the new St Lucian recruits: a 20-year-old attacker with quick feet and an eye for goal. Winchester has returned on a temporary basis before he switches back to the team he served last season, FF Jaro of Finland, in March. Already, the 22-year-old forward has struck three times in his last two outings.
Arguably, the shrewdest piece of business done by Connection in this window was signing the 19-year-old Dimitrie Apaifor an undisclosed fee. The Suriname international is full of potential and is set for a bright future at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium. Add these fresh faces to those who are already a part of the current setup – national team defender Joevin Jones, Brazilian Celio and a batch of Colombians that arrived last summer – and it’s no wonder Connection are enjoying such a fruitful period.
What’s more, there’s a group of young and promising home-grown Trinidadians based at Connection – Jem Gordon, Alvin Jones, Jomol Williams, Daneil Cyrus, J Jones and Neil Benjamin being key examples. The latter, in particular, is worth keeping an eye on for his incredible speed and fearless approach which has seen him rise from the youth ranks to the first-team in a short space of time. He’s a genuinely exciting winger, always looking to take on his man and usually to avail.
However, there is a slight minus point to the club’s transfer activity this window. Dazzling forward Stefano Rijssel of Suriname was invited to the MLS SuperDraft just over a week ago and sufficiently impressed, so much so that Seattle Sounders signed him and he’s currently in pre-season training with them. He’ll be missed.
Back to the league and Connection are preparing to lock horns with Point Fortin Civic this Saturday in a top-of-the-table crunch clash. The outcome is unlikely to make a difference to how the season unfolds but pride is at stake, and it’s a good opportunity for Fevrier to test some of the new players and try to extend the unbeaten run.
Speaking on the upcoming game, John-Williams said: “It will be competitive. It’s not going to be easy. A lot of other teams have strengthened their rosters to improve their positions in the league standings.”Adding: “We have twelve games left in our case and we see it as twelve very competitive matches. But in football you must show a level of confidence. In the first half we have done well and put ourselves in a position that we must remain focused, continue to work hard, remain humble and take one game one by one.”
The owner leads by example with his attitude and grounded approach. Connection know their work is done for this season, but it comes back to that element of professionalism as they treat the next twelve matches with equal importance.
It is testament to their hard work and application that the team are already in the position they’re in just halfway through the season. That unbeaten run doesn’t look like ending anytime soon…