Football veterans plan reunion to reminisce

Stephon Nicholas
Date Published: 
Trinidad Newsday

Gerry Browne and Peter ReynaldGerry Browne and Peter Reynald: the brains behind the football reunion.

MORE THAN 200 former footballers representing Colts, Shamrock, Luton Town and Belmont Dynamos will be reuniting on Carnival Sunday 2009 for a day of football talk, food and drinks starting at 11 am at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain.

The reunion is being organised by Gerry Browne and Peter Reynald with assistance from Colts’ Gwenwyn Cust, Shamrock’s Henry Govia, Frank de Freitas (Dynamos) and Mervyn Raymond of Luton Town.

The idea of the reunion was formed in 2005 when former players Patrick Raymond, Vivian Manswell, Gerry Browne and Jackie Skair met in New York, USA but the venture failed to get off the ground.

The clubs have been at the heart of football in north Trinidad in the past and will be reminiscing about their rich history and sharing some of the most memorable experiences on the day. The reunion is intended to be an annual event including more clubs and culminating in 2013 with a Belmont Day featuring other sporting clubs as well as cultural activities.

Colts, nine-time winners of the Best Dark Virginia (BDV) Cup was established in 1937 and ended in 1973 while Shamrock (1897-1967) won the BDV Cup five times and were champions of the Trinidad Football Association league seven times.

Shamrock earned the distinction of being the first team to win all trophies contested in one years. Dynamos (1946-1963) took the FA in 1961 and followed up the success with victory in the BDV Cup in 1962. Luton Town (1956-1974) were champions of the Northern Amateur Football League.

Browne explained that the aim of the reunion is to get football back into community.

“We want to assist the youth and get some of the former players to get involved in coaching and passing on their experience,” he said.

“Some of the players have played in the Port-of-Spain league, played for north, Trinidad and even represented the West Indies,” he pointed out.

Reynald noted that the detriment of football coincided with the decline of what he termed “community football”.

“Back then there was community football, footballers played with a passion because they were representing their home town,” he said. “Now you have a player from Sangre Grande playing for Belmont so the commitment isn’t there,” he added.

“When there was football at the Grand Stand, the whole community came out to support you, there was an atmosphere,” he said.

“If a player missed an easy goal and his team lost, a supporter would run out on the field after and give the player a tap,” he revealed. Reynald explained that when players represent their community and are successful they automatically become a role model for aspiring players to copy and seek advice from.

“Now there is none to give the players proper direction,” he said.

Browne also noted that the public interest in local football is declining because of the change in the structure of football.

“The Grand Stand used to be packed,” he said enthusiastically, “now you have forty people going to see a game and they call it the professional league,” he added.

Browne noted that despite the better facilities and opportunities to train, the current crop of players do not compare to those of the past. He argued that the players do not pay special attention to their nutrition or exercise properly. Ex-players of the four clubs are asked to contact the following to confirm their attendance: Gerry Browne 753-3962, Gwenwyn Cust 757-2880, Henry Govia 719-0881, Frank de freitas 623-7169, Mervyn Raymond 377-9680, Peter Reynal 786-2813 or Brian Rigsby 681-4161.

Former top players:

DYNAMOS - Jim Gibbs, Juno Blake, Patrick Raymond, Steve Nasil, Andwyn Goodard, Anthony Skeritt, Tyrone De Labastide, Geoff Chambers; SHAMROCK - Robert Hamel-Smith, Pat Gomes, Henry Govia, Edgar Espinal, Willie Rodriguez, Richard Nieves, Jean Mouttet, Colin Agostini, Bugs Mendez, COLTS - Gwenwyn Cust, Shay Seymour, Leon Monroe, Jim Harding, Horace Lovelace, Ming Alleyne, Carlton Francis; LUTON TOWN - Patrick Raymond, Ray Raymond, Mervyn Raymond and Ming Alleyne.