A couple of weeks on Adie Creamer is still trying to make sense of it all. Strange and unforeseen things happen in football, but Guam’s dramatic development under Gary White continues. That Creamer has occupied a central role as goalkeeping coach brings a cocktail of pride and satisfaction.
A decade and a half ago Guam were annihilated by 19-0 and 16-0 in World Cup qualifiers, but the landscape has changed significantly. Time is apparently a great healer - the people of Guam are beginning to dream again
Creamer, whose parents hail from Monaghan and Cavan, and works at Stanmore College is thrilled to be involved in Guam unlikely underdog adventure. Recent wins over Turkmenistan and India offered further evidence of Guam’s stunning improvement. Guam, with 150,000 living on the Pacific island defeated India, who boost a 1.25 billion population.
“It was crazy, we were just buzzing to get the two wins,” Creamer told The Irish Post. “They were fully deserved because we played very well in both games.
“While people on the outside mightn’t have we definitely expected to do well. We had our homework done. We worked hard during the sessions in the lead up to the games. We had the other teams watched in depth. We felt that we had more to offer and thankfully the results proved that we did.
“The game plan changed slightly for the second game, but the boys executed it so well. The only disappointment was that we conceded in the fourth minute of injury time. That denied us a clean sheet, but to win was brilliant.”
White’s diligence means that Guam are now respected according to Creamer, who highlighted just how much planning and plotting took place ahead of the fixtures. “I was there for five or six days before the first game. So we had double sessions before the first game which enabled us to work on detail. We put great work in and we had time to prepare properly.
“Being honest we had been thinking about these games for a few months. The head coach was in constant contact, the level of detail he covers is phenomenal.
“He has very innovative ideas, he is very assured of what is he trying to do. He was confident about the way we wanted to try to dictate these games. In both games we kept the ball well and we created a lot of chances.”
A former Tir Chonaill Gaels custodian Creamer, who also assists at the Watford FC academy, stressed just how relevant these successes are for the citizens of Guam.
“It was great because you felt as if you were part of history being made. This was the first time they sold tickets for a game. It was a big game for them being on television. There was a sense of occasions and winning created even more of a buzz.
“The capacity was increased for the India game. It was a 4,500 sell out and afterwards about 100,000 were reported to have watched online across the world.
“People are beginning to take notice- there were mentions on the Wall Street Journal, ESPN, BBC, Time magazine. It is a huge achievement.
“Straightaway after our first game Gary was focusing on getting the right recovery. He wanted us to be organised for the second game. Now that we have six points on the board we need to qualify was his next thought.
“The initial plan was that were going to play the remainder of our games away, but I don’t think that is going to be the case now.”
With confidence increasing Guam are loaded with hope about advancing to the next stage of the qualification process. “Absolutely we have a chance,” Creamer reckons. “Turkmenistan drew 1-1 away to Iran. We watched Oman beat India in Oman. We dominated India. We feel there is an opportunity there.
“The great thing is we sit top. Our goal was to be on top for the summer. We have six points. That sends a big statement of intent across Asian football. Guam aren’t whipping boys, there is an impetus there.”
Within hours of returning from Guam, located 1,626 miles south of Japan, Creamer was back doing what he always does: trying to assist budding young goalkeepers. “I was back coaching on Saturday morning here. I flew in from Tokyo on Friday. The college have been great and so supportive to me. They’ve given me time off at crucial times, I think they’ve sensed what an opportunity this is for me.”
Further testing trips are imminent. “It is going to be a busy enough few months. From the start of August there is going to be a huge amount of travelling and coaching. We leave on August 28 for Iran. The expectation will be huge there-100,000 people are expected at that game.
“After that we will fly to Guam to play Oman. That will be the first couple of weeks in September. Then we are scheduled to have a camp in Bahrain in October. At the start of November we play India away and Iran at home. Our last match next March is against Oman.”
Another layer of intrigue and interest is provided by the impact of a song penned for the team by Creamer’s pal Ronan McManus from Bible Code Sundays. “The song went crazy over there,” Creamer says enthusiastically. “It was on the radio every hour, it has become their anthem. It was played at full-time following the India win. They are talking about taking Ronan out for the home game against Oman. That would be great.
“Elvis Costello sent us a congratulations message too. It has just been a brilliant experience. People are starting to take notice.” That is most certainly the case.