BELIZE CITY, Mon. Dec. 14, 2020– Former manager/secretary of the Spurs Football Club of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Theodore “Teddy” Gonzalez, now resident in Florida, USA, has been sharing with us a bundle of notes and records from his days in Belize managing the Spurs football team. With his promise to try and present this period of his life in Belize football in a story form to share with our readers sometime soon, we asked Teddy if he could first shed some light on that controversial episode where the 1971-72 football season was reportedly aborted before a champion was declared. From what we had gathered, Spurs was leading the competition at the time the season “bruk up.” It was indeed a very regrettable episode in Belize City football that has left fans with many questions over the years.
Amandala asked Teddy to give some background and explain the events of that period from his standpoint as manager/secretary of Spurs:
The saga of the Spurs – Army game protest
by Theodore “Teddy” Gonzalez
If you recall, in the era that I am writing about, the yearly football season was held hostage to the Belize Cricket Association and their control of the MCC Grounds. Football had a very limited time to play their yearly season.
The playing dates were further shortened by rain and inclement weather. The position of the Cricket Association was that the grounds were theirs, and their association had preference over all other sports.
So, football always had this big negative hanging over its head. In order to improve this situation, the Spurs FC lobbied successfully for the football field at the Army Camp in Ladyville to be used to host some of the games.
Each team had to play one or two of their season games there. Of course, played under the rules and supervision of the Belize Amateur Football Association (BAFA), just as if the games were played at the MCC Grounds.
The British Army gave their consent for their field to be used for such purpose, but had no other input as to referees, security, etc. This was BAFA’S responsibility.
Almost from the beginning we were getting reports of irregularities at the games played there. Some teams even wanted to discontinue playing there. However, Spurs and some other teams were of the opinion that we should see the experiment through.
Before the scheduled Spurs – Army game, this situation was brought to the notice of BAFA. There were several problems that continued the day of the scheduled game, and Spurs followed the rules regarding games being played under protest.
After the game, which Spurs lost, a formal protest was lodged adhering to the rules regarding such matters. The protest was heard, and the decision of the committee was that the game be replayed.
At a subsequent meeting of BAFA before the game was replayed, the various teams objected to the decision of the committee and voted that the season be terminated; no further games were to be played. It was as if the season had not existed.
My opinion was that there was a certain admiration by the other teams for Spurs, and also a certain amount of jealousy that this young team was 95% on its way to becoming champions. Two teams in particular led this charge for termination of the season.
I considered it a very immature and irresponsible action, but it was what it was.
My disappointment at this type of behaviour and mentality was that, if this was what I personally had to deal with, I would withdraw from football…
An article which was submitted to the Amandala on this in later years had the response that we wanted to have “a second bite of the apple” having lost the game. I can attest that this was never the case; we followed the rules. If we had objected to playing the game, we would have forfeited the game outright. To use the term ”a second bite of the apple,” the protest rules and regulations allowed any and all teams to have ”a second bite of the apple” if any of them had been in a similar situation.
Would I as a manager and coach have done anything differently? No! What I would have wished, was that I had better motivated my players to go out, not with their spirits down to have to play under these conditions, but to play to win.
I do not believe that in this day and age games are being played under those conditions; and if a protest was so decided, no action could or would be taken to suspend and terminate the season.
And that is the saga of the Spurs – Army game and protest.
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(AMANDALA Sports Ed. Note: Teddy provided some photocopies of letters exchanged between himself, as team manager, and the secretary of the Belize Amateur Football Association (BAFA), Gilmore Hinkson, along with a standings sheet showing Spurs tied with Landivar for the lead in points in the 1971-72 competition, to back up his story.)