By Neto Baptiste
Former Empire player and coach, Veron Edwards Sr, believes the once dominant team can return to its winning ways but warns the feat will not be easily attained.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Edwards said players representing the team following its dominant four-peat run in the late 90s to early 2000s, would have come under tremendous pressure to deliver the same level of success.
“When you are used to success, it is not easy to see a team really faltering and struggling when you’re really not used to it and I think that is the problem. The pressure is on the players, especially if they come from a community like ours. Everybody expects something special and especially if you know what carried on before and I don’t really know if most people actually know what happened before, but back then there was no room for failure,” he said.
“I am sure the whole nation wants Empire in the premier league because everybody wants to beat Empire but how you get back a real strong outfit, I know it is going to be difficult,” he added.
Empire, having won 13 Premier Division titles, is the most successful football club in Antigua and Barbuda. The club was known for its magical four-peat run and having gone undefeated on the top flight for almost three consecutive seasons.
Edwards, who was part of the team’s coaching staff during the four-peat era, said a number of things much change if Empire is to return to its glory days.
“In sports, not only football alone, once you have good organisation, good structure … I hope Empire can get right back to that because back in those days Empire was special, not only special to us [players] but special to the community, special to the nation. I don’t know if the community is involved in it like in my time but I really hope we could get back to that because it is something that could really bring the community back together,” the former coach said.
Empire won titles in 1969, 70, 71, 72, 73 and 74-75. They returned to their winning ways in 1978/79 before winning again in 1987/88.
After lifting the trophy once more in 1991/92, the Gray’s Farm team went on to become four-peat champions from 1997/98 to 2000/01.