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Grobbelaar enjoys successful season with Ottawa Fury FC

Romuald Peiser won the Golden Glove as the North American Soccer League’s top goalkeeper this year.

Photo courtesy of Steve Kingsman - Steve Kingsman Photography
Ottawa Fury FC’s goalkeeping coach Bruce Grobbelaar watches intently during the NASL semifinal match against Minnesota United FC at TD Place Stadium in Ottawa, Ont. on Nov. 8. The Fury came from behind to beat United 2-1 after extra time.

The reason that information is important in this neck of the woods is because Bruce Grobbelaar — the Durban, South Africa native who is a decorated Premier League legend and now a Corner Brook resident — is the goalkeeping coach with Peiser’s team, the Ottawa Fury FC.

It’s not always easy to gauge the true impact of a coach, but in this case it seems fairly cut and dry.

The 58-year-old Grobbelaar, who is vacationing in the United Kingdom and couldn’t be interviewed via phone, said in an email that he and Peiser arrived to the team at the same time, after the spring season of 2014, so it was easy to get to know his pattern of training.

“He works very hard at maintaining his fitness,” said Grobbelaar in the email, clearly deflecting praise for his role in Peiser’s award-winning season that included 14 shutouts. “He is always the first into the dressing room and the last to leave.”

The Fury, in only its second year of participation in the NASL, were the top team in the league’s fall season with a record of 13-6-1 (15-11-4 overall, including the spring season), which qualified them as one of four teams in The Championship playoff round for the Woosnam Cup. They were defeated 3-2 in the title match by spring season champions the New York Cosmos, despite entering on a 12-game unbeaten streak and only one loss in their previous 26 contests.

Still, the campaign has to be viewed as nothing less than a success, given their status as a relatively new team to the mix.

“Straight away I got the feeling we could shock the NASL and I think we did just that,” Grobbelaar said of the come-lately club’s surprising run.

Change is already in the air for the Fury, with head coach — and NASL coach of the year — Marc Dos Santos vacating his position to become bench boss of the United Soccer League’s Swope Park Rangers, an expansion outfit based out of Kansas City, Missouri and affiliate of Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City. He has been replaced by former professional player Paul Dalglish.

Grobbelaar spoke highly of the outgoing coach’s work ethic, going so far as to say he believes he will wind up coaching in the Premier League. Though Dos Santos was instrumental in bringing him on board, Grobbelaar has still signed a one-year extension with the Fury in the same capacity. He did say, however, he would consider other coaching opportunities if they were to cross his desk.

Once his end-of-season vacation concludes, Grobbelaar’s immediate plan is to return to Corner Brook — “home,” as he now calls it — to spend most of the winter with his family.

But, of course, the globetrotting Grobbelaar can only stay put for so long.

He and his family will celebrate the New Year in Washington, D.C. and then he will participate in a Jan. 7 game in Sydney, Australia between his Liverpool Legends and the Socceroos Legends.

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