Oh, Happy Days

Author: 
Leonardo
Date Published: 
1985-01-03
Source: 
Trinidad Evening News

Days of glory
[missing] at the top, he turned out champs to carry on where he left off

Shamrock FCTHIS is a photo of the Shamrock team of yester-year. Sedley Agostini is at the extreme right in the second row.

AFTER almost a quarter century of first class football in Trinidad, Sedley Agostini hung up his boots, became a top class referee, and watched his three sons, Colin, Sedley Jr, and Michael develop into fine young athletes.

No father could have been more proud to see such potential flower, and it must have reminded him of his own days at St Mary's College where he began a successful career on the field of sport.

SPARKLING

As a sparkling youth of 16, Sedley made the St Mary's first eleven. He was a small boy, but a courageous one who realised playing against tough seniors from the great teams like Maple, Shamrock, Casuals and Sporting Club was no mean thing.

In 1923, two years after his first class debut, he was in a Trinidad combined colleges team against Demerara, helping his side to defeat the tough British Guianese.

EXCELLENT

A year later, the illustrious St Mary's side, including Clifford Roach, Tom MacVicar and Agostini, made a sweep of trophies in the first class competitions, taking home everything they played for except the League Shield.

It was Agostini's final year at college and he completed four excellent seasons with the team in a grand manner, being one of the school's outstanding players.

Becoming a member of Shamrock in those days was to rub shoulders with luminaries like Thor Schjolseth, Sonny Brown and Eric Pollonais. This was a great experience for the young Agostini who shared for the second successive a sweep of trophies.

In that year of 1925, Shamrock won the League Shield, Bonanza Cup and Governor Wilson Cup.

Then came his greatest success when in 1926 he was selected to represent Trinidad against Demerara. Now he could talk the same language as the other superstars.

The football authorities introduced a new competition in 1927. It was the FA Trophy, considered since then to be the greatest prize in Trinidad and Tobago.

ABUNDANCE

With an abundance of starts to call upon, Shamrock won the trophy in the initial year, and Agostini was there to share it, performing once again with determination and flare.

The national team made a tour the following year, again to Demerara, and Agostini was named vice captain. It was a successful visit to the "Mudland" with Trinidad winning five of the nine matches, drawing the other four.

Captaincy came to Agostini in 1929 when he was asked to lead a North team and later that year was again in the national side in a home series against Demerara.

But he said goodbye to Shamrock the following year as he went to South Trinidad, and was in the Brighton side in the Southern Amateur Football League.

His emergence in the SAFL team brough them great success as for the first time in their history they won the Skinner Cup by defeating the powerful TAFA side.

Agostini became captain of Trinidad in 1931 and returned to Port of Spain to take up where he left off with Shamrock.

In those wonderful years of the "Cafe Boys" they won the BDV Cup in 1933, 1936, 1937, 1938 and 1939, and the FA Trophy in 1936.

But they could not get their hands on the League Shield during that period. In fact, they hadn't won it since Agostini joined the club in 1925.

Even with great players like Schjolseth, Frank Ambard, Jean Rignault and Agostini, Shamrock fell on lean times in the league competition and as the 1940's arrived, it seemed they were in for more grim years with teams like Maple, Casuals, Colts, Fleet Air Arm, Sporting Club and Notre Dame around.

In 1944, after 23 years of first class football, Agostini planned his final season at the top. He was still captain and knew he had a fine team around him. His greatest ambition was to lead Shamrock to the league championship.

At 39 it was not easy to keep up with the younger players, but he kept going that year with inspiration and will. And in the end, Shamrock piled up the points to win the league title.

PNEUMONIA

He played intermediate football after that but his days of glory were behind him now. He would look to his sons to carry the mantle.

Before they had developed into the great players and runners he had wished, his son, Sedley Jr. died after a short illness of pneumonia. He was just 16 and on the brink of a great career at athletics and football.

But Colin, and more so, Michael did make their father very proud of their achievements. Colin continued athletics at a high level at college, but turned out to be an outstanding footballer, representing Trinidad and Tobago for many seasons.

Michael turned his attention to athletics after leaving college, and became the nation's finest sprinter in the 1950s. At the British Empire Games (now Commonwealth Games) in Vancouver, Canada, in 1954, he won the Gold Medal in the 100 yards sprint.

It was Trinidad and Tobago's greatest athletics success to that time, and Michael Agostini became the toast of the nation after his great success.

He later migrated to Canada where he ran for that country and won a Bronze Medal at the same games four years later.

As Sedley Agostini looks back now on those years, his fine career and those of his sons, he must feel that a lot has gone his way. He turned out champions in his image to carry on where he left off.