Renouf hat-tricks blows under-cooked Bels away
THE family of Keith Parkyn had hoped the first recipient of the Rawlinson Cup Final man of the match trophy would be a victorious Belgrave.
But the defending league champions saw to that with a dominant display and it was an old Belgrave – Steve Renouf – who took home the individual honour courtesy of a superb hat-trick in a 5-0 win against, frankly, disappointing opposition.
This was almost certainly the most keenly anticipated Rawlinson final in the competition’s long history, not least because it was featuring ‘Lazarus United’, aka Belgrave Wanderers,
The season proper does not start for a few days yet, but on the basis of a fortnight’s evidence and a couple of wins, it hinted at a remarkable transformation.
In squad terms the Bels’ depth grows by the week, the latest new boys being Wayne Bishop, possibly the most under-rated League striker of recent seasons, and Naro Zimmerman who, when focused on footy as opposed to other sporting interests or challenges, is as fine a centre-back there is around.
And the upsurge has been made more impressive by a social media campaign, the likes of which Guernsey has not seen outside of the Green Lions.
If the cup had been decided on social media posts, Bels would have had the final won long before Steve Hutchison blew the first whistle in front of a another healthy sized crowd.
The question is how long can this injection of new initiatives and enthusiasm be maintained?
St Martin’s, in contrast, are what they are and where they are on the back of long-term planning and with youth development at the heart of it.
They are now reaping the benefits of producing a wealth of young talent which is now ready not just to supplement the established but, in some cases, replace it.
Bels, at some stage of course, will have to get their youth programme restored, as Messrs McGrath, Marquand, Cochrane and Bourgaize, won’t last forever.
For now, though, the old boys will do to right the ship even if, as this 90 minutes showed, a little more fitness is required.
Saints arrived with Dom Heaume and Ben Coulter on the bench where 50 yards away Zimmerman was expected to be doing likewise for Alfie Le Page’s side, until a very late switch saw him elevated to a No. 9 role and Stuart Roussel dropping to the bench, one of two players injured in the warm-ups.
Bels had already lost Ant Austen in the preliminaries, on top of being without Marquand and Joby Bourgaize, while new signing Wayne Bishop was also unavailable.
At that stage, though, many thought the key absence across the two sides might be that of work tied Muratti keeper Jason Martin, which meant a start for St Martin’s U18s back-up keeper Jamie Mahy.
But Simon Geall and Sam Hale’s combined presence in front of him would prove a blessing, the classy latter still available while a new career off-island awaits.
- More in Monday's Guernsey Press.