FORMER STRIKE Squad midfielder Hutson “Barber” Charles was pleased with the accomplishments of Defence Force FC during the 2019-2020 season, as they copped both the Ascension Invitational Tournament and the TT Pro League titles.
Charles worked as an assistant to first-time coach Lloyd Andrews, who had previously served as Defence Force’s technical director.
In an interview on Tuesday, Charles, who also served as joint national coach, alongside Jamaal Shabazz, from 2012-2013, said, “The season went the way how we wanted it to go. The Ascension League, we used that as a pre-season tournament. We (were) not studying the results, it was just to get the system and the whole pattern of play going. We picked up some form and we won the league.”
The Ascension League was initiated by businessman and owner of Terminix La Horquetta Rangers, Richard Ferguson, and it ran from September until December.
“After the Ascension League came the (First Citizens) Cup,” said Charles. “We peaked at the ending of the Ascension League (but then our) form dipped a little bit. We realised that the coach Andrews and the staff realised that. We (said) we’re going to use the knockout tournament to see how far we could go but it was preparation for the league.”
The league was a memorable one for Defence Force, as they won 13 out of their 17 matches, and tallied 42 points.
Charles noted, “From the beginning, our main focus was to win the Pro League. We started off pretty well and everything (fell) into place. It was evident that we only lost one game. The only disappointment was that we would have loved to finish the league.”
With the coronavirus pandemic, were the players understanding of why the season was stopped or disappointed?
“It was two-fold,” Charles replied. “They were disappointed that they couldn’t finish the league, with three games to go. They (were) really looking forward, although we needed just three points, to get nine points. When we told them that the league has been stopped, you could have seen the disappointed faces.
“Nevertheless, it’s a disaster that is happening now and it’s nothing we could have (done) to prevent it. I think it was a good decision the league took in suspending (the rest of matches) because everybody’s health is important.”
Regarding what moments stood out for him during the 2019-2020 season, Charles said, “I think the vision that the coach and the staff had, from when we were introduced to the team because this is the first time that he’s coaching the team. I came back into (the team) this year after a long absence.”
Andrews replaced former Defence Force and TT midfielder Marvin Gordon during the off-season.
“We (sat) down and we planned, together with (assistant coach) Devin Elcock. To see that the plan came together as we panned out, that’s going to stick in our memory.
“Pertaining to any game that stands out, it was the second round game that we played up in La Horquetta, against Rangers, after going a man down in the first 15 minutes. We (stuck) to our game plan and we won that game 2-0.”