Sat | Sep 19, 2020

Forgotten milestones

Published:Wednesday | December 3, 2014 | 2:51 PM

It seems improbable now but 24 years ago, Jamaica went to the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games and came home with the gold medal for women's hockey.

Coached by Michelle Holt and captained by Sharon Malcolm, the Jamaica team edged host country Mexico in the gold-medal game. It's one of Jamaica's forgotten triumphs in sport.

It was one of the last major tournaments played on grass rather than synthetic turf, but that suited Holt's heroines to a tee. Players like wily attacker Audrey Gaynor, black-gloved Andrea Cobran, tidy Andrea Stephenson, speedy Tasha Cooke, youngster Sophia Wilson, Cecile Lawrence, Carla Thomas and Monique French literally lived on the grass at the Mona Hockey Field and fought their way past the Mexicans in a penalty shoot-out.

Their victory wasn't as improbable as it first seems now in 2014. In 1986, the girls had won the silver medals.

no surprise

If you were close to that sport in that era, you probably weren't too surprised either. Hockey players were among Jamaica's fittest athletes and they worked diligently to refine their skills.

The men had their stars, too, with Norris 'Chabba' Davis shining with his deft stick work and ball control.

Perhaps it's easy to forget a hockey gold on far distant shores. Yet, it's a malaise that affects local milestones too.

Fifty years ago, Kingston College (KC) dominated schoolboy football with a team so good that it became the standard by which excellence was measured.

In a schoolboy season where KC scored 58 times and conceded just three goals, 10 KC players were called to the All-Schools team. When that team met an Under-23 team from Brazil, the match was a draw.

Speaking in 2009, Trevor 'Jumpy' Harris, a prolific striker on the team, said "they were lucky to escape with the draw as Neville (Oxford) hit the post late in the game".

In the deciding Manning Cup match, KC were halfway through a 6-0 win over St George's College at half-time, but nevertheless got a standing ovation from the grandstand audience for the quality of their play in the first half.

Coached by the late George Thompson and captained by Tony Keyes, this unit is always on the list when football purists sit to contemplate the best teams ever to grace Jamaican high-school football.

Fifty years after an undefeated Manning Cup-Walker Cup-Olivier Shield triple crown, it's as if the 1964 KC team has been completely forgotten. Maybe grand celebrations lie ahead. After all, KC did another undefeated triple in 1965.

The golden moment for Holt's heroines was the 1990 CAC Games. When November 2015 rolls around, 25 years will have passed since their triumph. That will be as good a time as any to remember their day in the Mexican sun. They deserve it.

n Hubert Lawrence attended the Olympics in Sydney, Athens, Beijing and London.