Prince of forwards

Author: 
David Brewster
Date Published: 
2004-02-26
Source: 
Trinidad Express

It is the strong opinion of most of the stars of yesteryear that Carlton "Squeakie" Hinds remains the best local centre forward of all time.

Dozens of old-timers, including veteran former Guardian Sports editor Horace Gordon, have placed Hinds above even the England-based Tobagonian star Dwight Yorke, who played with distinction for Aston Villa and later Manchester United and is now a member of Blackburn Rovers' bunch.

Gordon referred to Hinds as "indeed the Pele of Trinidad soccer".

He was nicknamed "Prince of Forwards", a name which stuck and remains intact five decades after he played his last big match for Trinidad and Tobago and his club Malvern.

Hinds was barely five feet seven inches, with a 138-pound bodyweight, but his lack of height and size were compensated by his ability to penetrate the toughest defence in the history of Trinidad and Tobago's football.

Those who saw him at his best, described him an artist on the soccer field.

He was indeed a household name in local sport back in the 1940s.

But Shay Seymour, another great Trinidad footballer, who played alongside Hinds-both at home and during the historic Trinidad tour to Britain in 1953-insists that three months ago that he needed time to pick the T&T's best-ever forward.

After months of deliberation, Seymour, back home following an extensive sojourn in Britain, selected Yorke an No.1 on the all-time list of Trinidad and Tobago forwards.

Seymour, himself a dazzling centre forward, who played for Colts, yesterday awarded a "slight edge" in favour of Yorke, mainly on the strength of the Tobagonian's uncanny ability to strike, once on the ball.

"I saw Yorke in Britain when he played for Aston Villa, and again I saw him many times on television when he represented Manchester United. His positional play is quite good. He runs with great speed and that takes some doing. I'll put him slightly above 'Squeakie' because I believe Dwight has the potential to score more goals," says Seymour.

There was however, a loud "BUT" from the 73-year-old former professional who once played for Bury in England, and must have piled up over 100 goals for this country.

He argues that while Yorke would have scored more goals than Hinds, he thought that Hinds was a superior thinker on the field, and probably the country's best-ever deliverer of the ball. "But strictly as a forward and a goal-scorer I'll have to go with Yorke," he says,

Going back in time, Seymour talked about the many matches he played with and against Hinds, recalling that the Malvern wizard actually saw things on the field before they developed.

"He also knew what was going to happen and why and when," Seymour explained.

He continued: "Yorke is like this...He gets the ball, swings around and that's it...a goal. But Hinds is a bit different...He is always thinking and knows exactly what is going on in the field all the time."

Seymour, however, stressed that he was thoroughly against the idea of Yorke rejoining the national team, leading up to the coming World Cup in Germany.

He said there was no way the Tobago-born forward should be asked to return to a team once he announced his intention to retire from international football. "Why recall him now? Why not make room for someone else who wants the honour of representing his country?" he asked.

Hinds was born in Moruga, South Trinidad, on November 21, 1924, and was given the nickname "Squeakie" by the late Queen's Royal College principal Arthur C. Farrell. The name "Squeakie" was thrown at Hinds on his second day at QRC in 1936 .

"Squeakie" was actually the name of Hinds' pet deer. In an essay on his pet, he explained he had given it the name "Squeakie" because of the squeaking sound it made.

Modern-day players like Russell Latapy, Yorke and Stern John may have certainly taken the game to a different level, but no Trinidadian has ever stamped his image on a local football field like Hinds.

Gordon, who also played in the Hinds era, got excited sometime ago when asked to talk about the versatile forward

Gordon said Hinds was in a class all by himself: "He was the Latapy of his time," quickly pointing out that Hinds did not have to cope with refined defenders in the 1940s.

"In those days defenders did not pull back. They came charging like a hurricane with their steel-tipped boots.

"Hinds was up against more robust, raw defenders, not like today's calculated players. And when Hinds got the ball he had to manoeuvre it away from a player who ended up like a parasite," he said.

"I have seen him at his best. He was the mastermind of Malvern for years and he is indeed the Pele of Trinidad football."

Gordon says the dream of every player in those days was to play for Malvern alongside Hinds and other front-line players like "Putty" Lewis, Fedo Blake, Phil Douglin and Lio Lynch.

Gordon also spoke with passion of the club's second golden era which had produced a "cha cha cha "brand of soccer under Carlton Franco, Arthur "Jap" Brown, Clive "Santa" Niles and Kelvin Berassa.

"Cha cha cha" was a hit back in the 1960s when these skilful Malvern players would tantalise and confuse opponents by kicking and dribbling around the ball, imitating what the Harlem Globetrotters did in basketball. "Cha cha cha" even took the media by storm...there were those who loved it and those who disliked it. It irked popular sports commentator Raffie Knowles so much that he publicly called for the Malvernites to be banned.

Gordon says he had made his assessment of Hinds as No.1 after having seen players like Rex Burnett, Shay Seymour, Johnny Alkins, Paul Carr, Jeffrey "Night Singer" Stollmeyer, Rex Burnett, Noel "Sammy" Llewellyn, Steve David, Everald "Gally" Cummings, Russell Latapy and Yorke, in action.