Features — 01 April 2017 — by Charles X Hyde
‘89 memories

Wed. Mar. 29, 2017–In the Krem Saturday morning show this past Saturday, host Tony Wright posed the question to listeners, “Who were the two goalkeepers for Milpros football team in 1989?” I don’t know exactly why Tony chose 1989; perhaps it is because 1989 was such an eventful year in Belize football, and in Belize on a whole. Michael “Maradona” Sutherland was given the prize for his entry – Carlos Slusher and Marvin Ottley.

1989 was surely a pivotal year in so many ways. Tony’s choice of topic caused me some flashback beyond 1989, as well as a reason to check our team log for that year, which showed some more goalkeeper information for what was then the “Coke Milpros” football team.

First, in terms of Milpros goalkeepers in ’89, the team records show that 4 goalkeepers appeared for Milpros during the ’88-89 season, but 3 of them in the actual year 1989.

After 2 years as Coke Milpros’ starting goalkeeper, Marvin Ottley performed with Corozal’s La Victoria in that 1988-89 season; but, by special agreement with the BNFA, Marvin would be available to accompany Coke Milpros in our CONCACAF game against Diriangen General of Nicaragua. So it was that, when Charlie was given the opportunity by the BNFA, and left to take up a month training in France, the Milpros back-up goalie was Wayne “Grumpy” Young. Here it gets real interesting.

When the Milpros management was given the offer for their star goalie, 17-year old Charlie Slusher, to leave for France one week before the start of National semifinals against Duurly’s in the Northern Zone, there was a verbal agreement that we would be allowed to use Marvin Ottley in the semifinal series, although Marvin had played with La Victoria in the same competition, but had not made the playoffs. However, on the plane ride back from Panama, after losing 4-1 in the second leg with Plaza Amador, Milpros’ management approached BNFA officials who accompanied us on the trip, and asked for something in writing, in case our opponents had a problem, as they just might, with our use of Marvin in the local competition. The BNFA was reluctant to give any written authorization, and so it was that Milpros decided to “tek no chance,” and had Wayne “Grumpy” Young in goal for two consecutive games in the National semifinals. Both games were drawn, 2-2 and then 1-1. Incidentally, all 3 Duurly’s goals in that series were scored by former Milpros star striker, Arthur “Goatman” Leslie, who had been “bought” by Duurly’s a couple years earlier. We say “bought” in quotes, because this was before the advent of semipro football, and everything had to be “under the table.” Of course, Milpros received nothing from Duurly’s management in return for Goatman’s transfer; that’s just the way it was in those amateur days.

Actually, Coke Milpros also used another goalkeeper, Kenrick “Buck” Domingo (deceased), who started in goal for the 1988-89 Belize City competition; but he was replaced before the new year, 1989, began with young Carlos Slusher. Charlie left for France a week before the start of the National semifinals, and Grumps, who had only held goal for one game in regular season, was the man between the sticks for Coke Milpros against Duurly’s in the 1989 National semifinals.

Meanwhile, in CONCACAF action, “Marvellous” Marvin Ottley was the goalkeeper in all 4 games for Coke Milpros: 3-0 win against Diriangen General of Nicaragua at the MCC on April 16; 1-1 draw with Diriangen in Nicaragua on April 30; 1-1 draw with Panama’s Plaza Amador at the MCC on June 4; and a 4-1 loss to Plaza Amador in Panama on June 25. The series against Nicaragua was historic, because it was the first time a Belize team had “played” successfully through a round of CONCACAF. Other teams had advanced on a bye, but none until Milpros had won their series on the field.

Strictly speaking then, in 1989, 3 goalkeepers appeared in goal for Coke Milpros – Carlos Slusher, Marvin Ottley and Wayne Young. In the local competitions – Belize City and Nationals – Kenrick Domingo, Carlos Slusher and Wayne Young appeared for Coke Milpros in the 1988-89 season; but only Carlos Slusher and Wayne Young did so in the year 1989.

“89 X”

Now this “89” causes lots of flashback for other reasons. When the lone UBAD candidate in Collet, Evan X Hyde received only 89 votes in the 1974 general elections, the UDP mouthpieces, burning from the 1-vote loss by their “golden tongued orator” Ken Tillett to the PUP’s Vernon Harrison Courtenay, and blaming the X for their loss, proceeded to ridicule the UBAD leader with the nickname, “89 X.” Little did the UDP stalwarts know then, that “89” would prove to be a number of such monumental historical significance.

The upheaval that followed Coke Milpros’ refusal to take the field in July, 1989 for game 3 of the National semifinals, set in motion a sequence of events, starting with Milpros being banned from competition, including an Amandala boycott of Bowen & Bowen products, and culminating a couple years later in 1991 with the inauguration of the first ever semipro football league in Belize. And the sports momentum continued with the first semipro basketball league tipping off in 1992.

1989 was also the year of “Amandala Radio.” When the UDP Minister of Broadcasting threatened court action if Amandala dared to start broadcasting without a radio licence, which it refused to give; the opposition PUP promptly made such a radio licence a plank in their campaign platform for the December 1989 general elections. And the PUP won.

What else happened in 1989? The Berlin Wall in Germany fell on November 9, 1989, about a week before what was to become Krem Radio made its first broadcast on the Belizean airwaves…

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