Saying farewell to a talented ‘Son’

Alvin Corneal
Date Published: 
Trinidad Guardian

Aldric “Son” Baptiste, leftAldric “Son” Baptiste, left, in conversation with veteran players Shay Seymour, Kenny Akal and an unidentified member at a recent veteran’s get together at the Paragon Sports Club earlier this year. Photo: courtesy Tansley Thompson

The recent passing of Aldric “Son” Baptiste will have left many former top footballers in complete shock, especially those who spent much of Carnival Sunday in Belmont sharing valuable time with this truly talented player who lit up the fields with a mixture of super skill, absolute aggression and a potent desire to win. It took me more than four hours after I heard the news, about this superstar of the late 50s and early 60s, to come to terms with his passing. Having expressed my opinion before that he was the best allround midfielder this country has produced, it was an impression which I was able to make after first seeing him play for Spitfire, then TPD, the FA cup winners of 1956, the national team and of course the times we played together and against each other. Son was the epitome of a true competitor. He had a win or bust attitude. I distinctly recall travelling back to Palo Seco in 1957 when TPD, the team we both represented that year, had lost the FA final to underdogs Casuals. It was a game which the people of the South never figured that losing was an option for TPD, which had won the trophy handsomely the previous year and were definitely a better side.

Son reminisced over the number of chances I missed in the game which would have been no surprise if we had scored them. He turned to me in the bus and said, “Alvin, you just waste one hour of my time. How could you miss goals in a match like this? I hope that it was not because you are from North.” We both kept silent for different reasons until he broke the silence by commenting: “Don’t worry, Pat Gomez is the best goalkeeper in the land, so we have an excuse.” As we walked into his San Fernando home, where he lived with his mother, he snarled, “Mom, no football talk in this house tonight, you hear.”
Son was a very reserved person, except when he accepted you as a friend. He admired the General (Carlton Franco) and was more than pleased when Franco turned to him while walking off the Skinner Park field after South defeated North in a “Roy Joseph” Cup final, and remarked: “Ay, you don’t know how good you really are, but I hope that the country will find out soon.” There were many who were eager to see him in 1959 against Jamaica, Guyana, Barbados and the Combined Islands, after which the first ever Caribbean team would have been selected to tour England from July to November of that same year.

Son picked up a slight injury in the opening match against Barbados, and the then T&TFA president Ken Galt, discussed with the selectors the idea of not using the brilliant midfielder in the other matches so his injury could repair well. At the end of the competition, the team was selected and Son was omitted, much to the disgust of the entire country. The reason given was that he should have shown his worth in those matches and the selectors were not taking reputation into consideration. He was shattered and seemingly became bitter. He never showed it to his fellow players and if anything, he often kept whispering to his teammates that they should play every game as though it was a test for selection into the national team. His career did not last long and after a few more games, he gradually slipped away from the bright lights. Our football history will be incomplete without the memories of Aldric Son Baptiste, and I pray that the good Lord will compensate this unassuming master of the art for his excellent contribution to our best loved game. May he rest in peace.