T&T national football team poses for a team group photo
in Bahrain on Wednesday, before the start of the World Cup
second-leg qualifying playoff match against Bahrain. T&T
won the match 1-0 to win 2-1 on aggregate. (AP photo)
Dennis Lawrence, for giving meand an entire nationone
of the most memorable experiences of my life. As he did in
T&Ts 2-0 victory at home against Panama a few months
ago, the lanky former Defence Force defender and Wrexham star
emerged the hero of Wednesdays play-off in Manama, Bahrain,
when he earned T&T a 1-0 victory with a decisive 49th-minute
If there was one time I am stumped to write this column it
is this week, as there is so much I want to say, it could
occupy probably an entire newspaper.
On Wednesday evening, after all the euphoria and heady celebrating,
I sat quietly to reminisce on what the Soca Warriors had achieved
for 1.3 million of us.
My initial inclination is to gush about the playing of captain
Dwight Yorke (my pick for tournament MVP), Russell Latapy,
Stern John, Aurtis Whitney, Chris Birchall (who scored the
goal of the 12-match tournament last Saturday), Kelvin Jack
et al and the astute direction of coach Leo Beenhakker, who
contributed through the series. But I think Ill desist
and allow the more qualified sports scribes to explashiate
on Wednesdays historic moment.
So Ive decided to simply reminisce while savouring the
I return to my boyhood, and my father taking me to the Queens
Park Savannah and Aranguez Savannah for my earliest experiences
as a football spectator. I have been addicted to the game
Wednesdays victory is a tribute to the old greats of
my lifetime, names like Clive Burnett, Carlton Franco, Alvin
Corneal, Kelvin Berassa, Victor Gamaldo, Leroy de Leon, Lincoln
Phillips, Tyrone de la Bastide, Everald Cummings, Steve David
and Warren Archibald, talented footballers who deserved it
but never realised what the Soca Warriors achieved.
I reminisce about the national team of 1973, captained by
Selwyn Murren, managed then by Ollie Camps, currently the
TTFF president, who was also the manager of the 1989 Strike
Having had five goals disallowed in the 1973 qualifier against
Haiti, that national team, too, failed to realise the dream
of placing T&T on the World Cup map.
I contemplate our much-beloved Strike Squad of 1989, another
World Cup dream turned nightmare, shattered in the 38th minute
of the match by a strike of the boots of USAs Paul Caligari.
Coached by Cummings, who was previously disappointed in the
1973 campaign, the Strike Squad included some truly talented
players like captain Clayton JB Morris, Latapy,
Leonson Lewis, Kerry Jameson, Marvin Faustin, Brian Williams,
Hudson Baba Charles, Dexter Francis, and a then
18-year-old Tobago youngster named Yorke.
I am especially happy for Yorke and Latapytwo survivors
of the 1989 Strike Squad who are now living treasures and
role models for our nations youthan example that
anything can be achieved through belief in oneself, persistence,
discipline and commitment to ones vocation. Yorke has
etched his name in a special way into World Cup history by
being just one of very few men to lead his national team to
two World Cup finals, having previously led T&T to the
Youth World Cup final in Portugal in 1991.
Last but not least, Austin Jack Warner, a man obsessed and
driven for four decades to place his country in the annals
of history, now seeing his dream come true. Remember his famous
quote a few months ago in reference to the campaign: This
is not for the faint of heart?
The one citizen who remained absolutely and stoically certain
that T&T would be in Germany in 2006 was Austin Jack Warner,
and when the final chapter is written about true-blood T&T
patriots, he will have a page all to himself.
So, today, while we celebrate our Soca Warriors, let us also
spare a thought for those who went before, those who laid
the foundation for Wednesdays historic win. I also think
of my late father, who never played football and didnt
live long enough to experience T&T making it to a World
Cup final, but who passed on the priceless legacy of making
me a football peong, hopelessly and unashamedly addicted to
the beautiful game.
with his leaf-blower to blow away Bahrain and
surrounded by a bevy of beauties is Marlon Brizan, whose theatrics
won him the Ross Advertising all-expense-paid trip to Bahrain
for Wednesdays game.
to the islands
have not been able to get the melody or the images out of
my head since first seeing the video on the eve of the November
12 playoff World Cup match between T&T and Bahrain. Im
referring to the Ministry of Tourism video, featuring the
Kernal Roberts/Bunji Garlin composition Come to the Islands
and performed by Bunji and Patrice Roberts.
The songs original lyrics were reworked by Roberts and
Ross Advertising bossman Ernie Ross to match the T&T Warriors
campaign, and some beautiful editing was done by Richard Chin
at Video Associates studios.
The video was actually the brainchild of Tourism Minister
Howard Chin Lee, who selected the Bunji-Patrice soca hit over
several other possibilities because its lyrics were the most
apt for the cause, not to mention its infectious music. Sherma
Mitchell co-ordinated the entire project on behalf of the
Titled The Caribbean Stomping Ground, the video
uses a montage of local icons, among them Wendy Fitzwilliam
to Ato Boldon, George Bovell and Brian Lara, blended with
clips showcasing our Carnival, culture, beautiful women, landscape,
ethnic diversityall the things that make us unique as
A few hours before last Wednesdays game in Bahrain,
Ross told Pulse that his company did not make the video for
monetary profit, but as a contribution to the national
football team and the people of T&T.
Ross Advertising also held a competition for the best dramatic
depiction of T&T defeating Bahrain and the prize trip
to Bahrain for Wednesdays match was won by Marlon Brizan.