BELIZE CITY, Mon. Aug. 24, 2020– It was sometime around the middle of last year, shortly after renowned midfielder Rudolph “Peru” Olivera returned to the Jewel and was featured in an Amandala story, that a post-game discussion/argument erupted among some fans at the MCC over which opponent Stann Creek had faced in that epic 1972 Inter-District final, Orange Walk or Corozal, when Peru had “struck twice” in the last five minutes of the game to secure the victory and the championship for Stann Creek. It turned out that there were two such dramatic championship finishes for the Stann Creek team, the other being two late strikes by left winger Dean Lewis in 1977, with the legendary Garrincha Adderley recording the assists on both occasions.
The discussion took a turn when a die-hard Lake fan, Elvis “Que Tal” Robateau brought up another topic for clarification. Que Tal was of the opinion that his team, Chito’s Rangers was not being given their proper respect, and he wanted to make sure that everyone knew the facts. Que Tal insisted, and challenged anyone to prove otherwise, that in 1980 in Cayo, his Chito’s Rangers (Belize City) had beaten the Mighty Avengers (Cayo) in a best-of-3 games championship series.
There are a number of great football events of the past that continue to spur arguments and confusion among fans. Another such event/controversy involved a monster Inter-District final match-up at the MCC Garden that saw the Stann Creek team, a few minutes before kick-off against Corozal, suddenly walking out of the stadium, to the disappointment and consternation of fans. Why? The full story has never been explained, except that we all heard that the ‘ballers from Griga wanted a share of the gate, and refused to play otherwise.
We recently had a chance to speak to one who was actually there, “fahn riba battam” as we would say, and he willingly agreed to recount some of the above events for our fans.
We are talking about Idemuei (Nolbert) Moss, renowned top level Dangriga defender of the mid-1970s and ‘80s, who was a member of that Stann Creek squad and also a member of that Chito’s Rangers team mentioned above.
Moss’s narrative does not include the Peru Olivera goal scoring exploits, which occurred in the 1971-72 Inter-District Finals, when Moss was just entering high school in Dangriga.
We asked brother Moss to give us some insights into what really took place in that historic Inter-District championship series that ended abruptly at the MCC when the fans were disappointed as Griga players walked out of the stadium and onto their team bus.
Below are the recollections from our brother, Idemuei Moss:
The match that wasn’t played between Stann Creek and Corozal
by Idemuei TVPLGMoss
The 1979-80 Inter-District Football Competition came down to the last match of the season between leaders Queens Park Rangers (QPR) of Dangriga and second-placed Corozal at the Ricalde Stadium in Corozal Town. One point separated the two teams. QPR needed only a draw to clinch their third Inter-District championship in four years.
The competition rule was that the home team would forfeit a match if home fans caused a match to be abandoned. David Cruz was the author of that rule, and he happened to be the District Officer (DO) for Corozal at that time.
The match was officiated by referee Stanley Chiu who lived in Belize City but was originally from Dangriga.
The match started with a furious onslaught from Corozal with Oscar Marcelo, Negro Hall and Tan West bearing down on Buck Palacio, Turo Roches, Nolly Moss and Ivan Martinez in front of QPR goalkeeper Orin Orio. With all that firepower, playing with the wind and the gradient (slope) of the field in their favor, Corozal couldn’t breach the QPR defense line. First half ended 0-0.
Second half resumed, and soon Shaft Cacho broke away and was fouled in the penalty area.
Referee Chiu blew his whistle for a penalty kick. Corozalenos were agitated but allowed the penalty to be taken. QPR’s Shaft Cacho scored.
Corozal fans then attacked Referee Chiu. The match was abandoned with QPR ahead, 1-0.
In our minds, we had won the championship on two fronts: first, by forfeit of the match by Corozal; and second, by virtue of being ahead 1-0 at the time fans disrupted the match. We rode all night from Corozal to Dangriga in high spirits.
Then in mid-week we were informed that the match had to be replayed in its entirety at the MCC. Team manager Doc Stanley and coach Kenny Gray called a meeting at Stanley’s house. The players agreed to play only if the gate proceeds were split three ways: one part for Corozal, one for Stann Creek, and the other for the organizers, since regular season gate collections had been completed with the last match in Corozal.
Doc Stanley secured concurrence from Said Musa, the Minister of Sports at the time. This was good enough for us.
We left for the MCC to do battle again in front of MCC fans, whom we had entertained three years before when we defeated Orange Walk with Gregsie Jones, Wellington Ramos, Stud Hendricks and company.
When we walked into the park, the stadium was filled to capacity. As we started to change into our playing uniforms, word was received from Said Musa that we were not going to receive our agreed share of the gate, not even one red cent.
We packed up our gears and walked out of the stadium with adoring fans in disbelief. Our mantra was, “No bank, no spank.”
The entire team was subsequently suspended by Minister Said Musa.
The suspension was eventually lifted in time for the 1980/81 season, when the Inter-District organizers realized that a competition without Stann Creek would be a flop. However, many of the senior players refused to join the team, so I ended up recruiting a new squad with players like Paul Linarez, Orville Burgess, Bobby Mendez and Henry Moss. And guess who was our first opponent? Yes, Corozal, at Ricalde Stadium. The brand new squad held the fake champs to a 1-1 tie until the 89th minute, when Corozal scored, thus winning the match.
We returned to Dangriga to welcoming cheers, as we were expected to take a thrashing.
P.S. On reflection, there were no written regulations or statutes in 1979/80, and so things flowed according to the whims of those in authority.
In 2020, there are regulations and statutes, but they are only in place because FIFA says so; but they are just that. They are sometimes sidestepped by those in authority when it suits their whims and power cravings.
(Amandala Sports Ed. Note: On Chito’s Rangers, Moss explained that he was attending SJC Sixth Form at the time and thus played with Chito’s Rangers in their back-to-back Belize City championships in 1977-78 and 1978-79; they also won the Inter-District Champion of Champions in 1977-78, beating Cayo’s Avengers in a 3-game series, after Avengers had defeated QPR of Stann Creek. In the Chito’s vs Avengers championship series that year, Chito’s won game 1 at the MCC; Avengers won game 2 at Norman Broaster; and in game 3 at the MCC, Chito’s won, 3-2. Goal scorers for Cayo were Tash Gutierrez and Pilis Neal; while Chito’s goals were by Ricky Gongora, Enrique “Goal Machine” Carballo and Jorge “High Priest” Contreras. So, Que Tal only had the date wrong.)