Spennymoor’s new goalkeeper guides us through his roots in Bermuda, his eagerness to settle with Moors and receiving praise from Shaun Goater.
In 2019, Bermuda made history by making their first ever appearance at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the confederation’s premier event for national teams, crowning a champion every two years. Initially involving eight teams, the Gold Cup has developed into a competition of 12 nations, which qualify from each of CONCACAF’s three sub-regions: North America, Central America and the Caribbean, and has reached exceptional levels of popularity as evidenced by capacity crowds and a global TV audience of millions. As well as being a ground-breaking moment for football in Bermuda, it was also a huge summer for Dale Eve, Moors’ new goalkeeper, who joined the club before the 3-2 win over Altrincham.
Eve, now 25, has played for ten clubs in England after being spotted as a youngster playing in his homeland for The Dandy Down Hornets F.C. He has had his fair share of highs and lows, peaking with impressive performances against Haiti, Costa Rica and Nicaragua at the previously mentioned Gold Cup last year. However, he had to battle back from the low of being released from Stoke City after a spell of fruitless loan spells in the lower realms of the English football pyramid, ultimately concluding with him relocating back to Bermuda for two years. After returning to England at the end of 2019 in search of a final chance to impress with a club, Eve was suddenly in the right place at the right time.
“When things didn’t go right after lots of trials going from club to club to club, it was a case of wondering where I was going to go next. Hartlepool came into the picture at one point, but nothing came of that situation. I connected with John Willow who has helped two Bermudian players sign for Darlington (Osagi Bascome and Justin Donawa) and is looking to help out Bermudian national players to get clubs and play professionally in the UK. John must have had some knowledge that Spennymoor were on the lookout for a goalkeeper, so sometimes it’s just about luck in life. My agent has been working day in, day out to try and get me settled somewhere, get some games and get going as a footballer again.
“It’s been two and a half years since I have played in England. At this stage of my career it’s now about finding a club to settle at and get some consistency. After spending time at Robin Hood in Bermuda we wanted to come back last December and give it another go. This was the last chance and it was time to build my profile again. Luckily Spennymoor came in!”
Eve has played in the Bermudian Premier Divison for two clubs based in his home parish of Pembroke, the highest level of football in Bermuda. After spending his younger years at Dandy Town Hornets, he joined Robin Hood in 2017 upon his return to the country. After moving to England to join Derby, Eve’s potential had the likes of Manchester City sniffing around, but Stoke City was his next destination: “I’ve been playing football all my life since my days growing up in Bermuda. The standard of football in terms of the league in my country is nowhere near any of the top leagues, however, the individual talent of players is good. You always get two or three who manage to make it, get spotted and have a chance at making it pro, and I was lucky enough to move to the UK when I was just 15. I didn’t even know how the professional game worked over here. It was more of a case of that I enjoyed playing football, I managed to impress and then I signed the contract at Derby County.
“That’s when I actually had to learn about how a professional footballer lived and operated. In all honesty that took me a while to get used to, and I had to go way down the ladder to try and get games and learn more about the game and myself. At one point it was a case of how to get back into the game and get spotted again after my release from Stoke. I struggled for a few years to manage that, but I have got myself and my head right over the last two years. I am now fully focused on my goal and it’s now a case of going for it.”
After confirmation of Eve’s transfer went through hours before the game against Altrincham in early February, social media was alive with praise for the shot stopper, but there was one name in particular which caught the eye. Shaun Goater, the all-time leading scorer for Bermuda and a Manchester City legend, managed Eve for a short period of time at Ilkeston, and was complimentary towards the goalkeeper: “I was at Ilkeston around three years ago right before I went back to Bermuda, and the club brought Goater in to manage the team. He gave me a lot of feedback, insight and what it takes to make it. He looked at what I was not getting right, and his guidance helped me further down the line when I managed to make the squad for the 2019 Gold Cup. That platform allowed me to get game time and recognition as the tournament was broadcast and seen by millions. It was the perfect time to showcase what I was capable of. Everywhere else I had been at was all about how I did in training, but this was a proper game situation where I could show my ability. I did well and played all our group games against Haiti, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and I felt like I marshalled our defence well and gave myself a platform again.”
Tuesday night saw Eve make his full debut for the club in the 4-1 Durham Challenge Cup semi-final win over Stockton Town, but he feels it is just the start of his journey back in England: “It felt good to be back on the pitch in England! It was a bit cold, but it was great to be back in a match situation. I’m obviously still getting used to the lads and how each player will play, but it just felt right to be back playing football here. The aim is to keep the number one shirt for as long as I can and take the club as far as I can.”