Controversy then celebration - MBU protest for 'RESPECT' then win RSPL final
MONTEGO Bay United (MBU) wanted to register their point about not being afforded due respect ahead of yesterday's Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) football final against Portmore United at the Catherine Hall Sports Complex in St James.
In unprecedented and unceremonious fashion, they did. And they got a bonus after outplaying their opponents to win the 2015-16 Premier League title by a 2-1 scoreline in regulation time.
Leading up to the season's decisive contest, MBU owner and club Chairman Orville Powell had been voicing his
disgust about club not being invited to a meeting by the Premier League Clubs Association (PLCA), at which the date and time of the game was changed.
In no uncertain manner, Powell said they had been disrespected.
He also challenged the decision and lobbied for the time of the game to be shifted, arguing that it wasn't the culture of fans in Montego Bay to turn out that early for matches. Powell even threatened that his team would not to turn up for a 4 p.m. kickoff, which had spectators on hand, the opposing team, commentators for radio and television lined up for live viewing, and people in more than 24 countries receiving the feed wondering if they would ever turn up.
They did. MBU held true to their promise, only taking the field at 3:55 p.m., fully clad in black with white letters on the back of shirts worn by their players. They wanted to send their message.
It was one about 'RESPECT', the word spelt with one letter each on the back of the shirts of seven players - when they turned their back to the crowd - who stood in the front line.
Then there was another part to the message: 'IF YOU WANT TO GET IT, YOU MUST GIVE IT.'
That was spelt out when all the players lined up in a different order, again each with a letter on the back of his shirt.
Afterwards, they left the pitch and returned clad in their green, blue-and white-coloured outfit, marching out from the tunnel to the playing field, side by side with members of the Portmore United team and FIFA's anthem blaring over the microphones.
This time, MBU were prepared to play.
It was, by then, more than 20 minutes past the scheduled kickoff.
The protest, it appeared, never affected MBU one bit, as they settled down into a composed passing game from the first whistle and maintained the upper hand throughout against a Portmore team that got to the venue early and went through its warm-up routine on the pitch.
MoBay, instead, did theirs at the club's home ground, Wespow Park, which is close to Catherine Hall.
In the final analysis, Dino Williams came on as a second-half substitute to score the winning goal in their 2-1 victory.
The win gave MBU a second title in three years and a first league title for Paul 'Tegat' Davis as coach. He had won the title twice as a player with the club, before its recent name change from Seba United.
"This is an amazing feeling to know we are champions of the league against a very good, a technically sound Portmore side," Davis said.
Mercurial MBU midfielder Jermaine Woozencroft opened the scoring for MBU in the 62nd minute with a well-taken strike, after Portmore goalkeeper Shaven-Sean Paul raced off his line to block an initial attempt from MBU forward Corey Hylton, but spilt the ball.
Portmore responded in fantastic fashion. Michael Binns' torrid left-footed shot from 32 yards out gave Jacomeno Barrett in goal for MBU absolutely no chance for the equaliser, inciting huge celebration from the small pocket of Portmore supporters.
Woozencroft said he knew when he had the ball in his possession that he had to score.
"I knew I had to score; the goalkeeper missed the ball and I placed it well inside the post," he said.
"I am very happy for the team. We have gone through a lot this season, and to end it with the title is unbelievable," Woozencroft added.
Portmore's head coach Jeffrey Hewitt said he was disappointed with the outcome of a keenly contested match of the league's two best teams.
"We started as we liked, but never breached their defence at all. That was our downfall, and when we scored to get back into the match, they got another to win it," he said.
"Congratulations to the MBU team. They played well to win. I thought we had some chances that perhaps we should have done better with. It was a great season for us, just unfortunate not to leave here with the title," said Hewitt.
His Portmore team was looking to seal a historic moment by becoming the first club to gain promotion and win the Premier League in the same season.
They had earlier won the first-place cash award of $1 million after amassing the most points this season.