We received the message from Garrincha Adderley last night during the Press Cadogan Sports Show that Buck Palacio had passed on Tuesday in Dangriga. Another great Belizean footballer has left us, so soon after the Mugger and Big Mole.
Buck was such a powerhouse in defence. I recall seeing him clear a ball with attackers closing in, and his kick was so awesome it seemed the ball would explode. The man was a “Rock of Gibraltar,” indeed, the perfect complement to the elegant and wily Turo Roches who sometimes played behind him as sweeper for the great Stann Creek Selections of the 1970s’.
My mind is fuzzy, I’m not sure which team I was playing for (Islanders, Charger, Belprint, Milpros), or which Buck Palacio was defending with, when I clashed against him in front of the Seaview (southern) goal at the MCC. I mostly played center midfield, but I sometimes ventured into the attack. I was driving towards goal just inside the eighteen on the left side, when from nowhere Buck caught up with me, and I made the mistake of challenging, as if to block, his intent to clear with his volcanic right foot. Buck’s style was not only to stop, but to intimidate attackers with his power.
When I thought I had located my left foot, which had absorbed the brunt of Buck’s right footed cannon-ball, I managed to navigate my way back down field, trying my best not to limp and let Buck or the fans realize that for quite a few anxious seconds there, my left foot was all “rubber and needles.” It was like it had been blown off; eventually it came back. But ever since then, I would avoid a full force block with my small frame against the big kickers, preferring instead to seek a deflection.
Old seafarers talk of the days of “wooden ships and iron men.” Buck had a lot of athleticism to go along with his tremendous strength. He never played “dirty,” but always dignified and strong. He was one of Belize’s best. R.I.P., Buck Palacio.