BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Oct. 1, 2015–This one is long overdue, and we must apologize profusely for the long delay in delivering Part 2 of this story which began in Amandala of Wednesday, July 8, 2015. In that issue, we also promised a piece on Winty-J, which we will not promise to deliver next week. (from Part 1)
We chatted with Canalete outside his home on Curassow Street, and gleaned a few insights into his rise to football stardom in Belize.
Rupert “Canalete” Anderson was born in Belize City on December 12, 1946, to Ms. Caserine Bennett and Mr. Mansfield “Tarri” Anderson, both deceased.
Rupert said he spent his early years growing up in Hattieville, and started playing as goalkeeper with a junior team named Rapona Shell. After that, it was straight to senior with the Hattieville team that participated in the Belize City competition. Neither team was outstanding, but the tall youngster in goal for Hattieville apparently caught the eye of scouts in Belize City. (to be continued in our next issue)
Of course, on reflection, Rupert did not actually “grow up” in Hattieville, which only came into existence following the October 31, 1961, hurricane of that name; but he did grow into young adulthood in Hattieville after his family moved there. His early years were in Belize City; then in Hattieville, after playing as goalkeeper with the junior team, Rapona Shell, he moved up to mind goal with the senior Hattieville team in the Belize City football competition.
After his first senior season with the Hattieville team, the teenaged Rupert Anderson had already caught the eye of established veterans in Belize City, and the following year (around 1965 according to Rupert), he was recruited to play with the famous Brodies team.
As with some of our veteran players, Rupert’s memory is spotty in some areas, and some dates may not be completely accurate. It is for sure that Brodies were champions in the 1962-63 season, as this was verified by Bert Cattouse, who played with them that year, before migrating to the U.S. And Rupert is certain that he did not win any championship until he joined Landivar in the early 1970’s. So, Rupert apparently joined Brodies after their reign was over; perhaps after they lost their number one goalie, Nelson “Roo” Robinson (to BEC or by migration to the U.S.).
In any case, Rupert said, “After Hattieville, I came down to Belize City and started to play with Brodies.” He always played as goalkeeper. On that Brodies team, he recalls that one of his teammates was Cristobal Mayen (who later rose to stardom with Berger 404 in the 1970’s).
His season with Brodies was probably the 1966-67 season. And then, the following season he played with Belize Global, which had some of the same players, including Cristobal and Errol Clarke, who later perished in a 1971 truck accident along with three other athletes.
In that season with Belize Global, Rupert recalled that they played a big game against the then famous Rocking-R from Cayo.
Rupert: We beat Rocking-R that year, because we worked out hard just to win that game.
Amandala: That was a big game, because Rocking-R was the team to beat around that time.
R: Right. They had Orvin Garcia in goal, and he was a good goalkeeper too.
A: Are you sure it wasn’t one of the Wagner brothers, Tony or George in goal?
R: No, it was Orvin Garcia; the Wagner brothers came later on. They also had Pilis (Neal), Pappy (Smith), Speedy (Henry), Tio (Lennan), Culebra (Neal), Nayo (Waight), Maya (Ortega), (Arturo) Azueta, Timmy Bedran. They had a very good team. But we won in a close game.
Despite the impressive victory against Rocking-R, Belize Global “did not come anywhere in the 1967-68 season,” recalled Rupert.
The next season, which would be 1968-69, Rupert said he “went over” to J & E with Hubert Bradley as sponsor. Some of his teammates on J & E included Kizzy (Eric Kisling, deceased), Mundo (Myvette) and Cherry (Eugene Cherrington).
Again, there was no championship for J & E (San Joaquin was likely dominating at that time), but those were learning years for the developing goalkeeper, whose next season, 1969-70, found him with the young Spurs team.
A: So, J&E in ’68, and Spurs in ’69?
C: ’69, Right.
A: How many seasons you played with Spurs?
C: Two seasons; but we didn’t win any season.
After Spurs, Canalete found himself being recruited by Landivar, and that was his first taste of football championship.
Looking back, it could be said that, with his impressive performance on Spurs, Canalete had established himself as the most sought after goalkeeper in the Belize City First Division, thus his being snapped up by the then powerful Landivar squad. With Landivar, Canalete racked up back-to-back city championships (1972-73 and 1973-74), until the advent of that legendary team from the Lake, Berger 404, who captured back-to-back titles in 1974-75 and 1975-76.
By that time, the Landivar star was losing its shine, as veteran stars retired or migrated to the U.S., and the new stars, among them Raymond Davis, Alllison Jenkins and Alger “Blacker” Bradley, were unable to re-capture the city crown for Landivar. Nevertheless, there was no question who was the boss between the sticks, as Rupert “Canalete Anderson remained the #1 goalkeeper on the All Belize teams in yearly post season friendlies at home and abroad.
Tall and athletic, Rupert commanded the area in front of his goal, and was perhaps the first Belize goalkeeper to be very vocal in directing his defenders. He took charge and, with his reputation as “bouncer” at Dickie Gardiner’s Continental night club (on Freetown Road), it was acknowledged that Rupert “know i hand,” and was not reluctant to engage any aggressive opponent, especially in defence of his teammates.
In our 2013 interview with Spurs’ defender Russell “Cheezy” Hulse, Cheezy recalled an occasion when Independence striker Raymond “Lee Mole” Alvarez had injured Spurs defender Philip Neal (or was that Philip Guild?), and to Rupert’s mind, intentionally. Cheezy recalled the ensuing spectacle on the MCC as Rupert left his goal and chased Lee Mole all across the field to try and exact his revenge for hurting his defender.
Rupert himself recounted a game with the All Belize selection, being coached at the time by Cristobal Mayen in Grand Cayman. According to Canalete, Noel “ Flying Fargo” Ferguson (deceased) was the goalie in first half, when Cayman racked up a 3-nil lead. In second half, ‘Stobal inserted Canalete in goal, and the Belize team rebounded to draw the game, 3-3.
After his championships with Landivar, Canalete then joined Sir Andie’s (Rudolph Anderson) White Label, an awesome selection of stars for the 1976-77 season. And, despite an exciting and talented young Charger team “jumping” White Label, 2-nil, in first half of the championship final, it was Canalete’s leadership and field vision from his goalkeeper position that saw his team upsetting “Flying Fargo’s” Charger, 4-2, for the title. Canalete said he noticed Foggy standing with arms folded way out at his eighteen yard line when Cherry (sweeper Eugene Cherrington), known for his long drives, was about to make a free kick from deep inside the White Label territory. Canalete called Cherry’s attention and advised him to try a long one, which Cherry did, and caught Fargo frantically running backwards, as the ball dropped behind him and into the open goal; 2-1. The shock of the goal turned the tide of the game; and Label went on to a 4-2 victory and the championship. And Canalete was instrumerntal in the victory, not succumbing to despondency although trailing 2-0, and motivating his team to one of the biggest comebacks in a championship match.
Fargo was my keeper and my buddy on Charger, and there was no keeper with a better record at stopping penalties and other impossible shots during his era of the mid to latter seventies. But he had a weakness, and could sometimes be beaten by “easy” balls.
There is no disrespect to any of our other outstanding goalkeepers of the early to late seventies era, and we had some other good ones in the city – Karl “Bunu Cal” Robateau, Ruperto “Frog Man” Alvarez, Nick Dujon, and of course the Flying Fargo. But I humbly submit that in my estimation, Canalete was the boss.
And the next great keeper that he passed the “Top Dog” baton to would have to be one he helped to tutor as an up and coming keeper in Dangriga, before he burst on the scene in the Belize City competition. We’re talking about the great Orin “Coco” Orio, father of present Belize national team goalkeeper, Shane Moody Orio. But that is another story for another time.
Like so many of our star athletes over the years, when there seemed no more worlds to conquer, Canalete took off to the U.S. not long after his White Label championship season. And his journey across major American cities with large Belizean immigrant populations soon resulted in more football championships.