As they did last year, the management of the Brantford Galaxy are again shaking things up in the middle of the season with a coaching change.
However, this year’s decision to replace head coach Ron Davidson comes as a much bigger surprise.
The Galaxy have been flirting with the top spot in the Canadian Soccer League standings and, despite a 5-0 loss to SC Waterloo on the weekend, still hold an 8-4-0 record.
Last season, the Galaxy were off to a disappointing 4-7-0 start as defending CSL champions when team management decided to part ways with coach Lazo Dzepina.
Coincidentally, it was Dzepina at the helm of the SC Waterloo team that routed the Galaxy on Sunday.
Davidson said he was too upset to conduct an interview after Sunday’s game.
In an e-mail to Brant News on Monday, Davidson said the team’s ownership (Bosko Borjan and Gerry Crnic) “removed” him as head coach.
“I have enjoyed my time with the community of Brantford, the youth and the team I put together for the CSL,” Davidson said. “I want it to be made clear that I did not leave. They removed me for their own reasons.”
Crnic said the decision had nothing to do with the product on the field or Davidson’s performance as coach.
“He pulled a rabbit out of the hat with this team,” Crnic said. “He has taken these players and got the best out of all them.”
Crnic was vague about the reason for Davidson’s removal, saying circumstances and timing are to blame for the decision to shake things up. During recent months, Crnic has said the team has grown concerned about a lack of fan support and support from the Brantford Galaxy Youth Soccer Club.
Ownership knew the Galaxy had a down season last year in terms of fan support, but believed with a new head coach and a winning team that would change.
That hasn’t been the case during a recent stretch of home games and Crnic said it led Borjan and himself to ask some serious questions.
“We had many uncertainties and didn’t know which way to turn,” he said. “We were starting to doubt the reasons for continuing.”
Crnic said one of the big reasons for keeping the team in Brantford is to partner with youth clubs and lift all boats when it comes to soccer in the community.
But even though the Brantford Inter-City Soccer club changed its name to the Brantford Galaxy Youth Soccer Club, Crnic said there was still no formalized, signed agreement.
“We’ve been waiting to execute an agreement,” he said.
Things came to a head last week and the decision to replace Davidson was made, followed by a meeting with the Brantford Galaxy Youth Soccer Club board on Tuesday night.
“Everything was laid out on the table and we learned the relationship is definitely there with the youth club,” Crnic said. “We confirmed that we would sign a contract with new commitments to one another. We are happy with the turn of events on that front.”
As for Davidson, Crnic said the timing is very unfortunate.
“But with the turmoil and the confusion surrounding the youth club and our future direction, we had to make a decision at the time,” Crnic said.
Crnic said Tomo Dancetovic will once again take over as head coach and former captain and fan favourite Ranko Golijanin will return as a player and assistant coach.
Dancetovic took over coaching duties last season when Dzepina was fired. He has been with the team since it’s inception in 2010 as an assistant coach.
Golijanin, who led the Galaxy to the 2010 CSL championship, is excited to be making a return to Brantford after being released by the London City team he started the season with.
“I was always in Brantford in my heart,” he said. “It’s my place. I’m so excited to be back here with my old friends. If the team keeps winning, maybe they don’t need me. But maybe I can help, especially with the younger players.”
One thing that isn’t clear is how many of the players will remain with the club given their close ties with Davidson.
Not only did several of the Galaxy players come to the team because Davidson was named coach, but there is a network of carpooling among team members from the GTA to travel to practices and games.
Crnic said they will have to wait and see if Davidson’s removal has a domino effect.
The Galaxy will try to rebound from the team’s first loss since June 10 when they travel to London City for a game on Friday. Brantford is on the road against Brampton City United on Sunday.
The team is back home at Lions Park on Saturday, Aug. 18, to face the St. Catharines Roma Wolves.