R. Rose
April 7, 2017

Sam, Notre Dame, good

I had committed myself last week to continuing the comments on Britain’s break from the European Union, but I beg the indulgence of my readers to take an enforced break, with good cause. One of our unsung heroes, ‘Sam’ De Bique passed away in New York and was buried last month. Many of our younger folk would not be familiar with Sam and his contribution, so the least that I can do is to try to add to their understanding of such an important figure in our sporting and cultural development.

Sam DeBique, of footballing and mas fame, was never among the greatest of our footballers, nor is he considered the greatest of our masmen, yet his name will forever be linked with those greats. Like Darren Sammy in West Indies cricket, his contribution lay in the quality of his leadership and inspiration, that rare ability to get the best out of others more talented than him, but more volatile and temperamental.

His biggest achievements were in the field of football, but I shall come to that later, for Sam was not only a footballer, and cricketer too, he made significant contributions towards our Carnival development. He was one of a group of dedicated ‘Carnivalists’ (my term), who hailed from the Kingstown Hill area and who, never fancied, year after year gave us some of our outstanding mas displays. Among these were the indefatigable ‘Paddy’ Corea, the late ‘Moby’ Dick and ‘Sevens’ Knights, and Sibert ‘Dove’ Liverpool, who is still with us today.

Following his migration to the USA in the mid-sixties, he never gave up on our Carnival and became a regular part of the Vincy posse which made the annual Carnival pilgrimages to their homeland. He was also a stalwart of the Vincy community in Brooklyn. We have much to be thankful to Sam for in this important cultural field.

However, in my humble opinion, it was in football above all else, that Sam DeBique made his major contribution. Older brother Raymond was one of SVG’s legendary defenders, whom I, as a youngster, was fortunate to see in action for the then champion Juniors team, as well as on national duty. Sam’s footballing skills were not quite up to those of Raymond, but he founded and led a team that has strong claim to be our greatest club team ever. That team was, bar one or two exceptions, virtually a national team in club colours and carried almost all the honours in the sixties and early seventies.

The line-up of talent was not only unprecedented, it was hardly replicated by any of its successors. Rudy Boucher is considered by many of those familiar with our soccer history as perhaps the finest of the outstanding midfielders SVG has produced, and there was an array of stars – Norbert ‘the Prince’ Hall, the two Duggies (Doyle and Cambridge), Jeff Bailey, the late Fred Trimmingham, Leslie ‘Jim’ Ollivierre, William Muckett and another departed, the tenacious Tyee Sam – who made up the core of a very formidable side. It was the quiet, stable, calming Sam DeBique who provided the leadership and the gel.

So dominant was the Notre Dame of those days, that it not only

conquered in SVG, but triumphed at the Windwards level and more than held its own against top notch rivals from Trinidad such as Regiment, Maple and Malvern, ranking opponents in those days

It is a pity that we are yet to find ways and means of honouring such sporting and cultural icons. The least we can do, is to institute a HALL OF FAME in which Sam Debique can rightly claim a place.

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.