Nodley Wright, Gleaner Writer
Former champions and last season's runners-up, Waterhouse will start in pole position today when the 2013-2014 Red Stripe Premier League kicks off with a full slate of matches.
One of the key reasons for Waterhouse's tag is the Jermaine 'Tuffy' Anderson factor. Anderson, one of the most popular men in the country right now, is riding on the high of making good on the opportunity - a chance with the Reggae Boyz - that he has been pleading for, for some time and with his confidence sky high, he should be very difficult to contain.
Anderson, the competition's leading scorer for the past two seasons, will be gunning to prove that his strike on Tuesday last, which kept the Reggae Boyz' mathematical chance of World Cup qualification alive, was no fluke.
One man, however, does not make a team and Waterhouse have added to their experience of national goalkeeper Richard McCallum, midfielder/defender Nicholy Findlayson, the versatile Hughan Gray and Gary McIntosh, with the promising Lamar Nelson, Marvin Morgan, Romario Campbell, Lynval Wilson and Nicodie Haughton.
That aggregation, once it plays to form, should be able to get the better of a Boys' Town team that has not really retooled. The ageing Kirk Porter, captain Michael Campbell, Renae Lloyd and company will need reinforcements if they are to get the better of Waterhouse today and eventually mount a challenge for the title.
Like Waterhouse, Portmore United, themselves former champions, have strengthened as they seek to regain the trophy they surrendered to the then most consistent team, Harbour View. The pride of the 'Sunshine City' have brought in former national Under-20 representatives and proven goalscorers LeVaughn 'Country' Williams from Sporting Central and Romeo Parkes, who had his best season in the colours of Tivoli Gardens.
These two should significantly strengthen Portmore United, who travel away to Cavalier, one of the busiest teams in the transfer window. Cavalier recruited 20 players. Those that caught the eyes are Peter Keys, who excelled at Boys' Town, midfielder Severo Murphy formerly of Highgate, defender Dwayne Holmes and the duo of Elton Thompson and Dennis McKinley from Arnett Gardens.
Added to the consistent goalkeeping of Gariece McPherson and the goalscoring of Claudious Blackburn, Cavalier could find some consistency this season.
Defending champions Harbour View have not only changed coaches with Vin Blaine moving to assist Schäfer with the national senior team and Harold Thomas stepping up but will also be without the services of their inspirational leader Jermaine Hue. Kemeel Wolfe has also migrated to Clarendon to join elder brother Wolry in the hunt for a trophy at Humble Lion.
The 'Stars of the East' have brought in Damarley Oliver, Davieon Thorpe (Savanah), James Durrant (Arnett Gardens) and Anthony Marks of Reggae Youth, but none of them have the name or influence of Hue. They may have just enough to get by today's opponents Sporting Central, but could be found wanting in the long run.
Carlos Barrett should improve Arnett Gardens as he is a hard worker who also knows how to find the back of the net. The speedy, younger brother Layton Barrett is also a showman and will find favour with the Arnett Gardens crowd. André Clennon is another strong, pacy new man at the club, but while he can strike the ball, he does not score enough goals.
Tivoli Gardens had an off year last season and will be out to make a statement this season, and the return of old boys Robert Williams and Jameel Thompson may just be the start. They should get a taste of just where they are this season when they play Montego Bay United at home.
The Donovan Duckie-coached Montego Bay United should not be taken lightly and with young players like Jermaine Wozencroft and Allan Ottey eager to advertise themselves to the new national coach, fans could be in for a good game.
Promoted teams Rivoli United and August Town will meet in a game of more than bragging rights. Both teams know that even with a changed format two teams will be relegated at the end of the season and neither of them will want to be in that position.
5 p.m.: Waterhouse FC vs Boys' Town FC at Drewsland Stadium.
4:30 p.m.: Cavalier SC vs Portmore United FC at Stadium East.
3:30 p.m.: Humble Lion FC vs Arnett Gardens FC at Effortville Community Centre.
3:30 p.m.: August Town FC vs Rivoli United FC at UWI Bowl.
3:30 p.m. Tivoli Gardens FC vs Montego Bay United FC at Edward Seaga Complex.
3:30 p.m.: Sporting Central FC vs Harbour View FC at Juici Patties Park.