Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Orville Higgins | Filling Burrell's big boots

Published:Friday | July 7, 2017 | 7:00 AM

With the burial of Captain Horace Burrell, the campaign is on in earnest with several people lining up to succeed him. The question of who will succeed Burrell is, indeed, one of the most discussed topics making the rounds at the moment.

Burrell seems to have been at the helm of Jamaica's football forever. The four-year stint of Crenston Boxhill now seems to be a mere blip on the landscape of Burrell's reign, which goes back to the mid-1990s. This week, I take a look at some of the perceived aspirants.

Raymond Anderson, the longest-serving vice-president, has shown an early interest. He is unquestionably one of the most dedicated servants of football. His grasp extends not only to St Mary, where he was president for a long while, but to much of eastern Jamaica. He is seen as a nuts-and-bolts man, not necessarily the scripted corporate type, and has a reputation as a man who will walk the trenches.

 

OVERLOOKED FOR ROLE

 

Anderson's chances may have taken a slight dent when he was overlooked by the parish presidents and other vice-presidents for the role of interim president. That may well be instructive, but there is still time for him to 'wheel and come again'. His critics say he is not the greatest of orators, but that may not mean much. If the voters are looking for a man who takes blue-collar work ethic to the presidency, Anderson could be the man.

Michael Ricketts, out of Clarendon, is one of the most liked parish presidents. He is a gentle, affable man who seemingly gets along with everyone. He is as likely as anyone to bring harmony and unity to the federation, and his quiet, easy-going demeanour could carry him to the top job. He comes across as a man who would lead by consensus as opposed to an autocratic style, which could work in his favour. People have asked whether he has the right corporate image. How important that could be is left to be seen.

Like Anderson, he is seen as another hard worker, who is in football to serve. He knows football inside out, and is well respected within the fraternity. He is seen a Burrell loyalist. Will that work for, or against, him?

Craig Butler is a polarising figure. He has a whole lot of admirers, but there are a few detractors as well. He has declared an interest, and it is left to be seen if he could convince the parish presidents to buy into his vision. One gets the feeling that if this were a national vote, his chances would be higher.

Craig can be a very persuasive man. He will need every ounce of that quality if he is to convince the parish presidents to go for him. He's not seen as one of the \favourites, but he has surprised before and could do so again.

Ambassador Stewart Stephenson stands a decent chance. He has a lot going for him. He is seen as very bright, with the gift of gab, and could be a better hit with corporate Jamaica than most of the others who are in the race. Captain Burrell set the stage for the top job by his sharp image, and Ambassador Stephenson may be the No. 1 candidate in that department. He is respected in football all around.

If there is a weakness, it could be that he is seen as being a little aloof. There is a perception that he didn't always see eye to eye with Burrell, and some of the parish presidents, who were very clear Burrell backers, may use that against him. Time will tell.

Horace Reid's name is also being mentioned. He was said to be the brains behind much of what happened under Burrell. He is highly respected and may be seen as one of the front-runners if he really wants the job. He has a well-paying job in CONCACAF and may not want to give it up to run the federation, but I feel the opportunity to stamp his own mark may be too great a deal to give up. He is also seen as a Burrell loyalist, and those who want to go in a new direction may use that as a strike against him.

- Orville Higgins is a sportscaster and talk-show host at KLAS ESPN Sports FM. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.