Seven J'cans featured in Spike Lee's 'Lil' Joints'
Seven Jamaicans will feature prominently in Spike Lee's Lil' Joints: Redemption Song, an inspiring documentary about black footballers who led Howard University as the first ever 'invincible' National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) soccer championship team in 1974.
Directed by Kenan K. Holley, the recent ESPN premiere in the United States, saw a strong turnout at the Cramton Auditorium.
The Howard University men's soccer team - all black at the time - comprised of Caribbean and African players, overcame odds of racism and other challenges to become the undisputed division one NCAA champions. They recorded a perfect season of 19 wins and no losses, with no other university/college soccer team bettering their unbeaten run.
Also known as the Bison, Howard won the national title by defeating two-time defending champion St Louis Billikens, 2-1, after four overtimes on December 7, 1974 in St Louis, Missouri. The game was played at the Busch Memorial Stadium. That class of 1974 was enshrined in the Howard University Sports Hall of Fame 2014 Class in Washington, DC.
"I played on the triple-crown winning Wolmer's team of 1971, at Cavalier and for Jamaica, but playing at Howard was much harder because we were up against racial injustice everywhere we went. We were racially profiled, games were refereed one-sided and 'the N word' was always used to us," Keith 'Barnaby' Tulloch, one of the seven featured Jamaicans, told The Gleaner.
Tulloch was a standout from his early years at Wolmer's Boys, captained their first ever triple-crown-winning Manning, Walker Cup and Olivier Shield team of 1971 prior to Howard. He later captained the Howard 1975 team. He also represented Santos FC and the Jamaica national team as one of the youngest players.
When asked how he felt about being part of the ESPN documentary, he said, "It's about the best team you never heard of," adding, "ESPN will be airing the documentary to highlight the off-field challenges we went through to achieve."
Tulloch stressed that ESPN thought this to be a story to be told worldwide.
The other Jamaicans featured were Richard Davey, who assisted the winning goal, and who represented Jamaica College and Wolmer's Boys in Manning Cup then Cavalier Football Club and Jamaica; his brother, Michael Davey of St George's College, who also represented Cavalier and Jamaica; Bertram Beckett, Excelsior and Cavalier; Mario 'Zero' McLennan, Kingston College, Boys' Town and Jamaica; Lincoln Peddie, who was raised in England; and Paul 'Pep-up' Pringle, Wolmer's Boys and Santos football club.