Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Lindy opened the door for future Reggae Boyz

Published:Tuesday | February 28, 2017 | 2:00 AM
Deon Burton (right) and other members of the Reggae Boyz outfit lift up technical director Rene Simoes as they celebrated qualification for the '98 World Cup Finals.
Lindy Delapenha with an award he received for football.
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In a column written almost eight years ago, Gleaner contributor Gordon Robinson wrote that Jamaica's 1998 qualification for the World Cup in France would have been impossible had not one Lloyd Lindbergh 'Lindy' Delapenha kicked down the door to the English leagues in the 1940s for Deon Burton and others to get an easy access decades later.

Robinson in his article, said Delapenha, born May 25, 1927, on the corner of North and Church streets, Kingston, was "congenitally mischievous and averse to academics" in his early days.

He started high school at Wolmer's Boys', but was eventually sent to boarding school at Munro College. At Munro, Delapenha became one of the school's best ever sportsmen, representing them in football, cricket, track (participating in 16 events at one Boys' Champs), tennis, hockey, boxing and gymnastics.

ENGLISH FOOTBALL

After leaving Munro, Delapenha went to England in 1945 and joined the British army and was stationed in Egypt. While playing football for the army, Delapenha was spotted by an English scout, who took him to Portsmouth in April 1948 and became the first Jamaican to play professional football in England. Robinson wrote that he was "the first Jamaican through that door and he oiled it properly for future users."

Delapenha won the Division One championship with Portsmouth in 1948 before leaving for Middlesbrough in 1950. At that club, now in the English Premier League, Delapenha, playing as an 'inside forward' and as a winger, was Boro's leading scorer (1951-52, 1953-54 and 1955-56).

He slammed in 93 league/FA Cup goals in 270 appearances for the club and, according to Robinson, was kept out of the England side "only by the legendary Sir Stanley Matthews who, like Delapenha, was a winger."

He moved to Mansfield Town in June 1958, contributing 27 goals in 115 appearances over two years, before retiring from league football in 1960.

After three years of non-league football, initially with Hereford United, he moved back to Jamaica.

After returning to Jamaica in early 1965, Lindy not only played Sugar Estate cricket, but represented Boys' Town at football, taking the club from Division Three to Division One, before moving to Liguanea/Mona.

Shortly after, he became director of sports at JBC (radio and TV) and was instrumental in bringing English Division One football and horse racing, among other things, to television in the 1960s and 1970s. He stayed there for 30 years.

Professional football career

n 1948-50: Portsmouth

n 1950-58: Middlesbrough

n 1958-60: Mansfield Town

n 1960: Hereford United

n 1964: Burton Albion