Forwards Fast, Tricky, But Halves Unimpressive
(From our Correspondent)
PORT OF SPAIN, October 27.—Standard of Trinidad football has declined somewhat since Trinidad won their Test series from the full strength of Jamaica at Kingston in 1935-36, but the Iere players who will hardly field more than a couple of men that were on that match-winning side of a decade ago are nevertheless hoping for victory when they tour the "Isle of Springs" in February of 1947.
Only Pryor Jones, Bertie Thompson, Johnny Alkins and Wil Payne of that 1935-36 aggregation are in active first class competitive soccer, and only Jones who was then a schoolboy full back, and is now captain of the victorious Trinidad Amateur Football Association eleven in the 1946 Inter-League competition, is certain of making another trip back to Kingston.
Johnny Alkins, debonair centre forward, who contributed much to Trinidad's victory at Kensington, made a trip with a representative Colony side to British Guiana this year March, has been suffering from a foot injury ever since. If Johnny's scoring foot mends he may be given another try, for he is playing bright soccer for Sporting Club, his club team this season.
Bertie Thompson's last representative trip was to Barbados in 1944, when he played outstanding individual football which actually won the series for us at Kensington, but he was not selected on the B.G. team last March although he was in the running right up to the last.
Wil Payne who has forsaken the left winger position which gave him island selection in the 'thirties, is now playing at full back in South Trinidad soccer, but is not ranked among the leading backs.
Pryor Jones has greatest claims to the Trinidad captaincy since he has led the T.A.F.A. combination to victory in Inter-League games for the Hayward Shield, also winning the
Roodal Cup, the East St. George Cup and the Gilbert Skinner Cup in the current season. Pryor is not at his very best due no doubt to his strenuous sporting activities, having a gruelling time at cricket particularly at which game he is Trinidad's No. 1 fast bowler and a very hard hitting and dependable batsman.
There are three goalkeepers, most probably four, from whom two will be selected. The three now foremost in the public's eye are Joey Gonzales and Randolph Merritt, both of whom made the trip to B.G. last March, while the Southern Amateur Football Association's George Baker has come very much to the fore by brilliant performances in inter-district games. The other goalkeeper with an outside chance is Norbert Kilgour, of Sporting Club, who has done some steady work in October, although slipping up in the trials when the T.A.F.A. team was being selected for the annual Red Cross classic a month ago.
Selection of full backs presents a very tough problem. The southern part of the island has two stalwarts in Kenny Warner, a veteran of many Trinidad selections, and Ken Cook, tall Police player, who has come into the spotlight lately with a splendid tackle and a hard kick.
North Trinidad has many men eligible for Island colours. There is John Sampson, whom Demerara called the "Lion," and who is possessed of the best test match temperament of all the probables. Sampson due to foot injury has not caught the selectors' eyes in representative games this year, but it is within the realm of possibility that if the "Lion" is fit, and well Jamaica will see him next year.
Claims to partner Sampson, apart from those of Cook and Warner, fall to Rolly Tench (Sporting Club), Hugo Emanuel (Maple), Joseph Simmonds (Colts), and Syl Dopson (Notre Dame).
Tench is the soundest of the three backs; Simmonds played quite a steady game for the T.A.F.A. champions Colts outfit, while Dopson, and particularly Emanuel, are very spectacular
Trinidad is not likely to produce a very spectacular half line. As mentioned previously Pryor Jones, mainstay of the middle line of defence here for the past three years, has shown nothing of his true form this year.
In the annual North-South classic, a sturdy and hard-working United British Oilfields player, however, showed that he can fill this pivotal position, although he has none of the class that Botha Tench displayed which made Jamaica fans of ten years ago call him the best player they had ever seen.
Botha was in a class by himself, because even the Venezuelan soccer players, masters in the finesse of the game, stated that they had hardly seen a better player than Botha.
Tench's fort was long sweeping passes to both wings, and although Seales cannot yet accomplish this he has demonstrated ability to be always on the ball for the 60 minutes the game lasts, feeding his inside forwards cleverly.
Best half back, apart from Seales, this year, is Malcolm McClean, son of Tom McClean, who represented both B.G. and Trinidad in Inter-colonial series.
Malcolm shows boundless energy. He is not exceptionally cagey, but seems to be always on the spot. He should make the side, if he keeps on playing nearly as well as he is playing at present.
Neville Evans, lanky Colts man, has not caught the eye of the selectors in Inter-League games this year, a fact which has puzzled the Trinidad public, for he is a particularly steady
and indefatigable centre half.
Other halves with strong claims for selection are Ralph Knowles, Casuals stalwart who has already captained Trinidad, Noel Winn, a rugged Colts defender, and Claud Maurice who made a Trinidad team last year.
The forward line will probably present Trinidad with its biggest problem, and much will depend on whether 15, 16 or 17 playing men will be taken to Jamaica.
Trinidad's policy in the past has been to pick two goalkeepers, three full backs, four halves and the others as towards. Should there be 16 players, as I am expecting, at least seven forwards will have to be on the line-up.
It may be that Trinidad could carry six forwards and five halves, as Ian Seales is just as good an inside forward as he is a half back, in which position, he was selected in big Inter-District matches this year. That is a minor detail, however, and the best seven Trinidad players, most of whom should have dynamite in both feet will set the selectors quite a task.
A quartette of names familiar to Jamaica's sporting public may figure on the Trinidad attacking line. They are Gerry Gemez, Jeffrey Stollmeyer, Andrew Ganteaume, cricket heroes of the last Trinidad visit to Sabina Park, and Johnny Alkins, whose spectacular goals of a decade ago were responsible for Trinidad winning the soccer rubber in Jamaica.
Jeffrey was Trinidad's right winger last year, but has only recently made an appearance in first class soccer this season; and Peter Nicholson, St. Mary's College prefect, was used in most of the big games. Like Jeffrey, Nicholson has a lot of dash and kicks accurately with both feet, but Stollmeyer's shot is much more deadly.
Both Gomez and Ganteaume are inside forwards, and are very constructive players. Gomez is a slow moving forward with a very heavy shot to goal and a long cross pass, while Ganteaume is exceptionally wily with more than an ordinary placement to goal.
Almost certain to make the trip as an inside forward is Rex Burnett, an artist at inside left position, who started off playing poor football this year, but recently regained that form which earned him many Trinidad selections. Rex is brother to Harold, player-manager on the Trinidad cricket side to Jamaica this year.
Willan Baird, who plays for Spitfire in South Trinidad football, is also a very clever inside forward. He showed fine form at both positions on the right side of Trinidad's attacking line in B.G. "Squeakie" Hinds, Trinidad's No. 1 forward on the same British Guiana tour, has not been picked in any of the Inter-League matches, but is nevertheless displaying remarkable form, and helped his second class team, Malvern, to reach finals in the B.D.V. Cup, a knockout competition open to all clubs in the T.A.F.A.
Most prolific goal getter in the T.A.F.A. series this year, Edgar Espinal, is favoured by many as a certainty to make the Jamaica grade. He is very diminutive, and very slippery. But greatest claim to leadership of the Trinidad attacking line goes to the Southern Amateur Football League's ace Ken Gait, a former Trinidad captain, who is rated as one of the greatest opportunists ever. Galt, like Espinal is always on the spot, and no Jamaica full back could ever hope to retrieve lost ground when Galt is around.
Left wing problem finds four players battling for honours: Boysie Monteil, Lio Lynch, Ivan de Gourville and Carlton Downes. Monteil on this season's form is streets ahead of the other men but has received a foot injury which has kept him out of the game for a time.
Lynch is a clever player with a good kick in both feet, while De Gourville's chief claim to selection is his speed.
Downes' versatility cannot only fetch him a pick on the wing but in any other place on the front line of these dozen players Trinidad will have to select the seven best, and it will be a hard job for the selectors.
There have been bigger crowds at football this year than since the great Everton side quit the game in the early thirties, but this is no indication that the standard of play has not degenerated, and the touring team will have to fight twice as hard as they did in 1935-36, if Jamaica soccer is still at the same standard.