Good thinking by de SVG Football Association (SVGFF) for remembering dat in 1979, 40 years ago, our Nah-shun-all Football Team shocked de entire Caribbean region,coming second in de Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Finals, the four finalists were Haiti, SVG, T’n’T and Surinam. Team SVG 1979 was special, ah team dat blossomed from and wid young players who were running ball together foh some time. Six ah de key players were members of de No 1 Club, Super Stars, de local champions. De ’79 team bonded naturally and easily wid several brothers who were key players: Pete and Luxie Morris; Guy and Roltie Lowe; Sheen and Morie Millington.
But Football aside, 1979 was ah great year, full ah Sad and Glad moments. Beginning in April when de Volcano erupted, causing serious disruption among thousands of Vincentians living within de danger area, and were evacuated from dey lovely homes, into temporary shelters in Schools and Churches. As ah result, dat year dey was no Vincy Mas in July, de Erupt-shun stop de Carnival! As bad as things were, SVG managed to send ah powerful Cultural Package to Carifesta in Cuba, Kingstown Chorale, ah Nah-shun-all Steel Band comprised of players from Starlift, 20 th Century and Fantasia and other Artistes.
High on de Nay-shun ah-gender foh 1979 was In-de-pen-dance, dat was back-anal! One half ah de country was “for” and de other half was “against” In-deep-and-dence; divided like de 2009 Riff-ah-run-dem. People were still devastated from de effects of de eruption, Evacuees were still in camp site. Despite appeals from all quarters to put off In-de-pen-dance until de Volcanic Ash settled, Premier Cato said no “Ning-cum-poops” or Erupt-shun will stop de In-de-pen-dance. he was hell bent on becoming de first Prime Minister in October.
Lie-Za who was ah lickle girl in 1979, says something was missing dat midnight of October 26th. She gets more Goose Bumps, when she reads de ball by ball account of de activities dat took place on mid-night of July 31st 1834, when Slavery was abolished. Dat night every church, in every town and village, was packed wid slaves singing “ To God be de Glory!”! Church bells ringing, blowing of Conch Shells and Bamboo joint.
“But Alas!” She said: “two weeks after In-de-pen-dance celebrations, early in November of 1979, de news broke dat our Nah-shun-all Footballers made it big at CFU Championships level in Surinam, placing second to Haiti. Dat Victory was ah double whammy, two Gifts in one package. Ah late one foh In-dip-and dence and an early one foh Christmas.”
DE BIG FIELD HELPED
Nuff respects to de SVG 1979 Football Team, And doh forget de small management team headed by Scoby Taylor, Basil “Bung” Cato, de late John Horne, Gideon Exeter et al. De coaching staff was headed by Rudy Boucher, de trainer Michael “Ounce ah Beef” Mayers, ah Karate Instructor. Dey did wonders wid dem youngsters.
De team spent months in Camp, bunking in de Arnos Vale Players Pavilion. Ah have ah confession to mek. Manager Scoby Taylor got me as ah Surveyor, to mark-out de football field at Arnos Vale. Somebody gave me ah Football Rules Book with de different dimensions of an international field. De width was between 50 and 100 yards, and de length 100 to 130 yards, Ah took it pon me-self and marked out ah field dat was closer to de maximum, 90 yards by 120 yards, de largest on de island.
Foh months our Players were training on dis over-size field. Trainer “Ounce-ah-Beef” and Coach Rudy Boucher had dem running 90 minutes games wid half hour extra time, in de hot sun, every other day. Ah shock was awaiting all visiting teams and no team was able to keep up wid Vincy Heat foh speed and stamina. Every visiting team in de CFU Group ran into problems with de field. Yes dey outplayed us wid dey skills, but only foh de first half. Our boys were fit, too fit, dey made use of de big playing area and ran wide on de flanks. By half time every team from Martinique, Guadeloupe, T’n’T, to Surinam were dead beat. Was not until SVG played de return matches away from home, our lads performed at dey very best, as de Fields in de other islands were smaller dan home.
Ah doh recall who or when de size of de field was reduced, but after dat great achievement in 1979, no Vincy Heat Squad has come close to dat 1979 CFU Squad. Dey were good soldiers and its not too late foh dem to be honoured properly. And wid dat is gone ah gone again.
One Love Bassy
Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.