Trinidad Must Tackle Soccer Problems Now

Albert Alkins
Date Published: 
Jamaica Gleaner

Lesson From Visit Of FA Team

By Albert Alkins, Sports Editor of Trinidad Evening News

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad: Trinidad has never seen football up to this standard and were helpless against it. This English Football Association team was much too good for us, but it made our soccer thousands who crowded the Queen's Park Oval and Skinner Park for the series, vitally aware of the poor standard of the game in the West Indies.

But that is what the Trinidad Football Association wanted to do--to bring a team down here that would awake soccer from its lethargy and make our footballers, realise the job they have ahead, if they are ever to attain real first class standard. And they will, you mark my word, for West Indians are natural ball players.

Sonny Vincent-Brown, a former Trinidad centre-forward who managed our team to England in 1953, requested of the English F.A. to send a team that would beat us. For "we want to learn all we can." England did just that; trampled us 1-0, 6-0, 8-1 and 8-0 in four games and it is our business to learn.

This is not the strongest period in Trinidad soccer by any means. Across the years come the glamorous names of Alfred Charles, Arthur Maynard, the Achong brothers—"Puss" and Harold, Babsie Daniel, and Clifford Roach and fans have asked me if a Trinidad football team of the late 20's would not have held their own against this English side. But my answer is "no; very emphatically, no"!

Had No Chance

At no stage of our football had we a chance against a team up to this standard. It is no use fooling ourselves. Now we realise why Alfred Charles, our best footballer ever, faded out of the picture so soon after he had signed up for Burnley in the English Second Division League, 20 years ago.

You know our standard in the thirties; you saw Trinidad's best team beat Jamaica in a three-match series in Kingston in 1936 and you remember the cleverness and brilliance of Botha Tench, "John Bull" Sutherland, Otto Wilkes, Bertie Thompson, Johnny Alkins and Jack Merry, but you know as well as I do that in that era neither Trinidad nor Jamaica would have had a chance against these Englishmen.

And the best eleven of this team, Harry Wright, the trainer-coach, told me, would only just about hold their own in the English First Division League. And at no time was it necessary for Wright to put this team on the field in the West Indies. So now we can appreciate the job in front of us.

By our standards these English footballers appeared to be magicians and Eighth Wonders. We have never seen such wonderful ball control and such fine use made of the open spaces. Their anticipation, compared to ours, was uncanny.

Yards Quicker

They were yards quicker to the ball than we were. An English player would hit a ball in the open space with just enough power and the receiver, who would anticipate the play from the very start, would be there to pounce upon it, and ready to do the same thing all over again, while the Trinidad players were left trailing.

Our football was actually half-second or more slower than theirs. Had it not been for wonderful goal-keeping displays by Pat Gomez it is hard to anticipate what the scores would have been. Gomez was the "Trinidad player" of this tour and the fact that he was named captain of the final Colony team was a great tribute to his prowess.

There were many who thought that his display was better then that of Rolph Grant, who starred for Trinidad in the final Martinez shield tournament against British Guiana and Barbados in 1933, and later Joey Gonzalves, who the Jamaicans saw in the late 40's. Gomez' style is different to these two and it is hard to judge, but he must be numbered among our best six ever. Rolph Grant, Joey Gonzalves, George Dewhurst, Ronnie O'Brien, Ivor Hart and Gomez.

Noel Daniel was the next best player. Six-foot 1-inch tall, he played "Third back" in the last two Colony matches and saved Trinidad from more goals.

Denzil Mapp made a few fine moves in his only game, the final match; and Doyle Griffith shone to advantage in the second Colony match, but the others were mediocre against the opposition; and "Squeakie" Hinds, only a shadow of his former self.

North ran the Englishmen off their legs in the first game, with sheer pace, and limited them to one goal, but after that it was a massacre of the innocent. Bedford Jezzard, Geoff Bradford, Stan Pearson and Bobby Robson were too much for us.

Trinidad football, and no doubt Jamaica football, will have to tackle their football problems now. But it does not make sense for them to do so individually.

If we are to emulate the deeds of our cricketers we will have to form a West Indies Football Association and fight it to the end. There must be more tours of English teams to the West Indies and of West Indies teams to England, if our soccer is to ever reach anywhere.