BELIZE CITY, Mon. Sept. 12, 2022
In a 7News story posted on Facebook 5 days ago, former UDP Minister and lifelong football fan Michael Finnegan offered to the public his personal list of “The Seventy Best” footballers he has had the pleasure of seeing in action since he began watching games in Belize around 1960. As expected, the release of Finnegan’s list has kicked off a raging storm of complaints from football fans who are mostly concerned about names left off the list.
In his last term as FFB president, Ruperto Vicente attempted to establish a Belize National Football Hall of Fame, and appointed FFB President Emeritus Delhart Courtney to chair a Hall of Fame committee that included then Hon. Michael Finnegan, David Cruz, Mose Hyde, and yours truly of Amandala Sports, Charles X Hyde.
After a few meetings, the FFB Hall of Fame committee ran into a wall when a suggestion of starting the first induction with only 10 selected players became controversial, and it was felt that in order to catch up there would need to be a much larger number of initial inductees to cover the five decades plus that had elapsed since 1960. Renovations to the FFB building led to a suspension of the committee’s meetings. And that was that.
Finnegan’s list can be seen on the 7News Facebook page. As some comments suggest, a broad-based selection committee is best suited to vote on any final Hall of Fame selection for inductees. There will never be one hundred percent consensus, but it is a good first step towards enshrining “the best of the best” in a Belize National Football Hall of Fame.
While space does not allow us to include Finnegan’s list of his “seventy best” footballers, with their positions played and teams they played for, we will share his introductory note, explaining the reasoning behind his selection, and thus deflecting criticism by others who see things differently.
Below is Finnegan’s statement:
THE SEVENTY BEST
By: Michael Finnegan
As you have come to appreciate, over the years I have been making contributions to football, from my vantage point, by way of short stories published in the local paper. Throughout my days of writing, observing and generally enjoying the sport, I have engaged in numerous heated discussions about who the best footballers are that we have produced in Belize, and at the end of the day, views remain varied with no two mirroring list. As I can vividly recall, one time I was asked to narrow down and name the best fifteen footballers, a task which I replied would be a very tedious job. However, the question always remained lingering on (my) mind and so I endeavored, on my own accord, to give it some serious thought. Now on the cusp of the forty-first anniversary of our nationhood, I have finally completed that list and I have decided to name the best footballers I have seen, not necessarily in any specific or fixed order. You may disagree with my selection, but this list is through my eyes commencing in 1960. Of course, there are those before 1960; however, I was not so privileged to witness their talent, so here it goes.
After completing his list of SEVENTY BEST players, with pictures of 59 of them included, Finnegan ended as follows:
From this grouping, here is my starting eleven playing a 3-3-4 formation; yours might differ!
Bembe the Mugger Garbutt, Garincha Adderly, Fred Martinez, Chico Ellis, Angus Vernon, Pappy Smith, Malanga Mayen, Lionel Hitler Gentle, Buck Palacio, Randolph Tempo Barrow and Nelson Ru Robinson.