a “personal and team story” written in 1997
(continued from page 18 of Amandala dated Friday, January 1, 2021.)
There were many people involved in football whose friendship and respect I earned and still enjoy today. There were also many fans and supporters of Spurs. Many of these names I cannot remember today, but from both groups, I would certainly like to recall the following:
Rackoo Craig, Cooti Mossiah, Wire Man Hinkson, Caretaker Jones, Peter Staines, Ernest Burgos, Cruz Silva, Jr., Negro Chups, Mike from Hofius Hardware, Leslie Sharp, David Cruz, Ray Ysaguirre, Fred Mutrie, Chicho Urbino Sr. of Orange Walk, Big Mike Williams, D.K. Barrow, Bill Ynestroza, Welch, Norrin Meighan. Boy, we had our believers and our great and loyal fans. The list is endless. The year is now 1997, and yesterday at times seems such a long time ago; and at other times, yesterday seems like just yesterday.
There were many good players whom I admired and respected, and who did not play for Spurs for one good reason or another. Such as, Ripper Coye, Rungu Glenn, Chris Mayen, Ernest Jones, Malanga Mayen, Willie Williams, Thor Middleton, Timmy Bedran, Tino and Jesus Lima from San Joaquin, Corporal Mossiah, Chris Sosa, Jimmy Lawrence and others.
My thanks on behalf of myself and the management and players of Spurs to The Belize Technical College, its management and staff, and teachers like Mr. Satchwell, Owen Morrison, Henry Gordon Jr., Rudy Burgos, Sr. and Orrin Moguel, who allowed us the use of their football field for practice; and also at times the use of one of the classrooms for our meetings.
I had some good days and some bad days. Would I do it all over again? Sometimes there are a few things that I think maybe I would have done differently. But after some serious thought, I guess that I would do it all over again the same way.
Gilmore “Wire Man” Hinkson was for many years the secretary of The Belize Football Association. Over the years, Mr. Hinkson helped me a lot and gave a lot of good advice. On many occasions we did not see eye to eye, but he always stood his ground. He was always there for the other teams, never saying no. And if there was one criticism that I could make of the man, it was that he was involved in so many associations, that he could never really do justice to any one. If it was not football, it was amateur athletics, or it was Olympics. He gave as much of his time as possible, and then some, to anyone needing it.
There were also two good friends of mine whom I worked with for many years, Hubert Bradley and Bertie Ellis, who gave a lot of time, and I believe put their hands into their pockets on many occasions for football. They were the duo who were responsible for the exciting Pemex football teams that visited Belize and thrilled so many of our football fans. My beef with Hubert and Bertie was that they always wanted to work independently of The Belize Football Association; they never wanted to acknowledge or respect the authority of The Association as the ruling and responsible body for football in Belize. I tried to tell them that for football to progress, we had to be unified, with one voice speaking for us, and one body responsible for our actions and for the development of football. Whenever the day came that we were accepted by FIFA, and the day has come, this was how it would have to be.
I believe, for the game and state of football to progress, there are many things that would have to be improved. Not only the players, but their attitudes toward the game, toward training and practice, toward sponsors, toward the game’s organization and rules in general. During the years that I spent as a member of the association, there were many times that, as a member of the Spurs team, there were many amendments to the rules, improvements to the game, and improvements in the organization of the association that I tried to implement. Ninety percent of them never got past first base. None of the managers, representatives of the other teams seemed to agree with my ideas. I do not think that they really even tried.
They were too taken up with just going out to the football field and playing their competition games, never really looking past their noses. Pretty strong a statement, is it not? Michael Finnegan seemed to have the ears of most if not all of the other representatives. And he seemed to get a special joy out of going against my proposals and getting them voted down. Why? I did not know then; I do not know now. I do not believe that I will ever know. Let us suppose that my proposals were all garbage; then the least that I would have expected was that Finnegan, including some of the other managers, would have tendered alternative proposals to improve the game in general. Never happened; not from Finnegan nor any of the other managers; and this included those from Landivar, Red Stripe, Independence, B.E.C., Berger Lakers, and Toyota Cruisers. All these teams had the following and respect along with Spurs to have effected many worthwhile and necessary changes. Maybe the bottom line is the classic case of the singer not the song. Maybe my song was good; I really believe so. But apparently my singing was terrible.
P.S. The Champion of Champions Competition was one of the few accepted proposals of mine. And this certainly proved to be a successful event.
Leslie Sharp was a manager and coach that I also admired and worked well with. He was the driving force of the then popular and exciting San Joaquin Football Club. In August 1971, Leslie wrote two letters to The Belize Football Association. One letter named players he thought should be included in a team to play against St. George’s Old Boys. The other letter was a list of what Leslie termed, in his opinion, Belize’s most dominating players up until 1971. For the interest of today’s football public and with Leslie’s permission I reprint these two letters.
And there was Raymond Lockey. Lockey, as he was popularly known, was a Scottish football player who came to Belize around 1969/70 as a volunteer through the efforts of The British Council. His job was to help with general coaching and the improvement of football in Belize. I believe that he did a great job while in Belize, and footballers learned a lot from him. Because of his love of the sport, he also wanted to play competitive football, and so he signed up to play with Spurs. I suspect that, if there was any limitation to his achievement while in Belize, his association with Spurs as a player was said limitation.
Salvador Habet, Sr., Salva, as some of us know him, and who also for some time served as President of The Football Association, was another classic case of “The Singer Not The Song.”
In those days, football also suffered from the lack of playing facilities. We were allowed the use of the MCC Grounds for a limited period of time; we were never sure when the competition would start, nor how long it would last. When it came to the use of the MCC Grounds, the powers that were, treated the association the same way a dog is treated when he sits at the foot of his master’s table; just waiting for bones and scraps, and leftovers.
Salva was the sponsor of The Landivar Team for many years, and was a lover of the sport. He had the dream that football could build its own field, and in time own its own stadium. We could then truly play football for a longer period of time, and have proper facilities to attract a larger number of fans. We got a piece of land from Government, which is situated in the vicinity of The Belize Teachers College on Princess Margaret Drive.
Salva bought a new 5-Ton Truck which would be used in the commercial landfill business; it would also be used to fill the acquired piece of land. All profits after the truck was paid off would be for the Association. Except for a few Landivar and Spurs players, and one or two from the other teams, we did not really get the support needed for the venture. Salva just could not sell his song. So he just sold his truck and abandoned the program. Sad; very sad. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity which would never present itself again.
Many people thought that the most important thing about sponsorship was its monetary value. That once the equipment, the uniforms, the balls, etc. were bought, the Sponsor was then eligible for Sponsorship Heaven. Granted that money is very critical to the production and running of a team, but there is another side to the coin that is equally important. I believed then, so many years or so ago, and I still believe today to a large extent, that the sponsor or sponsors should spend some of their quality time with the teams.
Whether going to a few practice games, or team meetings, or certainly to a few competition matches. Or the attendance of some of the firm’s senior and junior employees, or the sponsor’s family members. For the team members to derive maximum benefit from this exercise, they had to believe that they were not just a tax write off, but individuals important in the scheme of things. The sponsor or sponsors could also impart valuable advice and guidance which would carry forward into the player’s future life.
Ooops! Ooops!! And Ooops Again!!!
I almost forgot the Espat boys. Well, at that time they were boys; now they are men – Accountants, Teachers, Politicians, Businessmen. But at that time they were a bunch of boys who were Spurs’ heaviest fans. I remember the bunch of them sitting down on the sidewalk at the corner of Albert and Bishop. And when Five-A-Side Football started, they were fans, and supporters, and players too.
(To be continued)
(AMANDALA Sports Ed. Note: It appears from the above that the well-respected businessman, Teddy Gonzalez may have experienced a fair measure of the “subversion” in football that was referenced in Evan X Hyde’s 2008 publication, “Sports, Sin And Subversion.”)