Column: Strikers ‘leave’ good for league

John Browne
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No patsies in this year’s Challenge Cup soccer. I like it.
C.B.S. Strikers FC are out for this season but there are plans for them to return in 2015.
Don’t bet on it. This is just a stay of execution.

Once their best players have played on a contender, why would they want to return to an also-ran? C.B.S. can’t even get their Canada Games young stars to play for them.

The C.B.S. club’s record over the past four seasons is 16-62-11. The team’s 1-25-1 record this past season was their worst. How is that showing the league that they can compete at the senior level?

How does that performance inspire confidence that the team can play with the big boys?

They are clearly an intermediate side and there’s nothing wrong with that. I know the league wants to expand, but please use common sense in the future.

I warned the league years ago that soccer teams out of Corner Brook, Conception Bay North and Conception Bay South are not capable of playing at the provincial senior level, but the NLSA wouldn’t listen to me.

Where are those teams now?

I understand some folks in Harbour Grace are sniffing around the possibility of getting back in the league again. That’s a joke, right?

Losing the struggling Strikers is no big deal. It’s clearly a case of addition by substraction for serious soccer supporters. It will make for a leaner, more competitive, better calibre league this summer.

In the meantime, the decision to give the first-place team a bye to the championship game is a very good one. Finally, the first-place team will be justly rewarded.

Every game will mean something this season and the fight for top spot shouldbe intense. I also like the decision of eliminating one of the four teams from the playoffs.

This has massive potential of being the most competitive season ever.


It’s about time Memorial University acknowledged its varsity athletics programs with extra funding. It only took 89 years! ... Three different coaches in the Challenge Cup Soccer League this season. Derek Strang is replacing Blair Aylward in St. Lawrence; player-coach Andrew Murphy taking over from Walt Mavin in Mount Pearl and Jake Stanford returns to Holy Cross, replacing Mike Kirby at the helm ... St. Lawrence coach Derek Strang on Feildians picking up the league’s top scorer Tyler Forsey: “Speed and proven goals. How can that hurt any team?” ... To set the record straight, Tri-Pen’s recent Atlantic peewee AAA championship was the first for a team outside of St. John’s to win the title since 1993, but the last time a team from this province won that crown was in 2009 when the St. John’s Aliant Pioneers defeated the Marks Work Wearhouse Tri-Com Flyers 3-1 to win the 2009 Aliant Atlantic peewee AAA hockey championship at Mile One Centre in an all-Newfoundland and Labrador final. That St. John’s roster included players such as Nathan Noel, Andrew Picco, Clark Bishop, Nathan Yetman, Cody Donaghey, Tyler Boland and Brett Vokey. Thank you Annette McCarthy for bringing that to my attention .... I’m told Steve Power did an outstanding play-by-play job broadcasting (via webcast) the 20014 Atlantic bantam hockey championships held in Mount Pearl. Brian Rogers should be looking over his shoulder ... Is the coveted Silver Stick award in Kenn Oliver’s future? … After seeing Darren Aronofsky’s bizarre, anti-Biblical movie Noah, I’d like to see him remake Oliver Stone’s nutty JFK film with one of those giant rock Transformers on the grassy knoll … Sportsnet’s Sid Seixeiro is hilarious. The Tim & Sid Show is must-see for sports fans with a sense of humour. Great chemistry between the two.

Organizations: Challenge Cup Soccer League, Marks Work Wearhouse Tri-Com Flyers 3, Aliant

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Insider perspective
    June 27, 2014 - 18:39

    The most important factor for success is talent and the second is chemistry. Going into the start of the 2012 season, both of these elements certainly existed. The imports from Nova Scotia injected some much needed talent. That gave the group confidence we could seriously make it to final weekend. The signs were certainly there during the winter indoor league, when the team finished 2nd. Right before the outdoor season began, our best player (and arguably one of the leagues best that season) left to play for Cross. For a group that finally had just enough talent to compete - you can understand how naturally demoralizing that was. Regardless, the team actually had a decent start, and was in 3rd place after the first 5 or 6 games. Not great but certainly competitive. At the midway point we were in last but only a couple points behind the pack. However, a 2 to 3 week period of "off the field" conflicts between players and coaches derailed the season. The team was never the same. Leading into the 2013 season, two key players had already left for St. L, while others either moved away, found intermediate teams, or just took a year off. The team lost 7 or 8 players and out of those that remained, only a handful were Challenge Cup level. That season was a write off before it began, and the team should not have even entered the league. So John, please don't delude yourself into believing CBS couldn't have been a success. Just come out and admit what the real problem is: Clubs poaching players. I get it, creating the best team possible and sending them off to nationals is our best chance at not getting embarrassed. It's just pathetic we have to resort to that, rather than finding a solution to the low level of play our province has.

  • CBS player
    May 16, 2014 - 10:02

    There were a number of problems that lead to the failure of the program. I won't go into all of them but in hindsight CBS should have started a 5 year plan once they got their turf to enter league. They started from the top down when they should have worked from the bottom up, meaning they should have focused on strong minor coaches to build towards a team starting in u-14. The reason Strikers FC didn't have a lot of players from cbs in 4 years is because the players coming through the ranks were not good enough. If they had set a future goal rather than just putting a team of whomevers together( granted they put together good sides for two out of 4 years) than a foundation of loyalty and home grown talent would have made up the core. Sprinkle in a few players from town and all of a sudden 5 years into the challenge cup program and 10 years later you have a legitimate team. So really this should have been year one. The whole association should have known about this plan including parents of players on all star programs from u12 up.

  • Seen it all before
    April 11, 2014 - 23:02

    Let's face facts. CBS or HG or CB playing CC is equivalent to St. Lawrence playing for the Herder. Let's be realistic. As for direction of soccer in NL, let's hope that NLSA doesn't pull out of CC on a national scale. The CC leader has pulled a team when he felt they weren't competive before. But had 27 guys playing Intermediate that year. I believe the year was 1989. I believe that some of the Laurentian faithful played for the Shammy's that year. Let's hope the entire senior league doesn't devolve to one big intermediate league.

  • steve
    April 10, 2014 - 12:53

    Kevin, I agree with your comment. It is a massive problem. But on the flip side players probably leave CBS minor program for a number of reasons. Namely to get a better game of soccer and better coaching. CBS minor has always struggled to field teams at certain levels. If what an association is providing is up to standard players wouldn't leave in the first place regardless of the rules Also since the CBS association established Strikers FC in Challenge Cup. There has been little in the way of players from CBS minor being feed through the system. The team has been primarily made of Intermediate players from St. John's, C-Cup players from St. John's and Mt Pearl, or Import players from Nova Scotia who you coach brought in to strengthen the team.

  • Kevin
    April 10, 2014 - 12:17

    Dig deeper will CBS have U16 and U18 teams this year in Provincial Leagues? Doubt it, Because they have been pillaged by SJ and MP over the past few years while the NLSA ( ie SJ Soccer) allows it to happen. What a joke!

  • player
    April 10, 2014 - 11:04

    John Brown! you are very negative. I guarantee you that you'll regret writing this article next year when the Strikers rebuild the team and prove that they have quality players and coaches. You should understand the structure of the challenge cup more before you start writing negatively about any team.

    • Word of Advice
      April 10, 2014 - 13:04

      He doesn't long as the mun seahawks basketball teams still let him in to games for free and he can muster around the field house like someone who's popular he's fine. He's the same towards local soccer as he is softball. Because we win nationally at these sports, he has no time for them, just printing negativity towards both. Unsure why Robin continues to allow to print this drivel weekly. It's bad enough that they are asking people to pay to read this online, paying to read his columns, not a chance.

    • John
      April 10, 2014 - 18:28

      Brown has been around the NL sports scene a long time and knows what he is talking about. CB dropping out of senior soccer is not surprising. Their senior hockey team is also on the brink of extinction if the rumours are correct. History has shown that senior leagues in NL are very fluid most times to the detriment of competition.

  • Steve
    April 10, 2014 - 10:40

    I have to agree with the author of this article. Now is the right time for CBS Strikers to take a leave. If they are not competitive, other more stronger teams will use their games as a way to cushion their own +/- statistics in what may play a role a in deciding tie breakers for playoff positions. It is unfortunate that players from CBS do not want to stay loyal to their league who developed and nurtured their skills in the first place in their youth. I wonder what the challenge cup would be like if players between the ages of 18-22 were required to play for the team they were associated with during their minor soccer days. After which, they could join anyone they wanted. Either that or teams need to start signing 16 year olds to their challenge cup squad on a developmental roster status.

  • Brad
    April 10, 2014 - 10:14

    I'm not surprised this happened. But there were a multitude of reasons why the practically lost their starting 11...namely poor management/administration. They didn't pay much attention to their senior side, their coaches were not technically sound and it didn't help that they were trying to be buddies with certain players on the team, especially those players that had poor attitudes. It's no wonder not many soccer people took them too serious. There is definitely room for another team in town, heck even Burin can support another team, but the right people and players need to be there and I just don't think CBS is capable of doing it

  • soccer player
    April 10, 2014 - 10:12

    Two comments regarding this piece as a soccer player in this province. 1) It is expected that the league will be very competitive this year with the potential for the 4 teams. So how about the telegram promoting some of the games this season and the stories involved in it rather then John writing about his favourite team ( Holy Cross) or now Forsey. 2) The notion that CBS, CBN, or CB cant put a competitive team on the field is an unfair comment. The problem exists at an NLSA level where soccers rules don't encourage players to play at an elite level or does not have an restrictions to player movement. Theres is a 7 game rule where once your on the game sheet your ineligible to play intermediate regardless if you play or not. So why are players going to play C-Cup. when they are gaurenteed to play at a lower level. With player movment take CBS for example. 2 years ago they were on a solid path to be up to the standard of the 4 remaining teams. A week before the season starts HC recruits a player who was up for MVP last year who had been training with them for months and St.L recruits their captain. Now this season HC recruits two of the better CG players who are from CBS. 1 player leaves to go to Mt Pearl and then 3 jump ship to join St. L. No wonder they cant field a competitive team!! Just look at the direction the ladies league has been going since Kirby has been constantly stacking their club. Its an issue that needs solving for the betterment of the game!

  • opionons
    April 10, 2014 - 08:11

    John, that is only your opinion, yes they had a bad season last year after losing pretty much the entire starting 11 after a coaching change, teams need time to build and rebuild. they competed in the 3 season prior to last season, and they will come back and be competitive and it takes time!