Clarendon my greatest team - Hyde
In 1977, Clarendon College produced a superlative season of schoolboy football. Honed by football visionary Winston Chung Fah, Clarendon College outplayed all their rivals en route to the daCosta Cup and the Olivier Shield titles. Lenny Hyde was a key player of the team and like many, Hyde believes the 1977 unit is the best ever in the history of schoolboy football.
Now a respected coach, Hyde described the 1977 dominators as a rounded team.
"We were together for about 2-3 years so we knew each other and we have quality players," he recalled recently. "Sometimes we make passes without looking because we know the players were there."
Among Hyde's teammates were captain and outstanding centre half O'Neil Russell, midfielders Glenroy Nembhard and Donovan 'Che' Wray, prolific goalscorer Roy Duncan, Wayne Wonder, Dennis 'Den-Den' Hutchinson and Dave Girod.
"Everybody could handle the ball, defensive third, middle third, attacking third," he recalled with pride.
The total football produced an undefeated season and goals galore. However, for many fans of schoolboy football, Hyde's Clarendon College rose to legendary status with a banner performance in the second leg of the Olivier Shield.
Calabar High School had earned a 1-1 draw in Chapleton, home of Clarendon College, and Chung Fah responded by giving his boys a week's rest to alleviate any staleness.
HUNGRY FOR FOOTBALL
"So when we went to the Stadium, we were very hungry for the football," he reminisced.
The ploy worked. Calabar was dismantled by a superb display dominated by Hyde.
"We made the least amount of mistakes on the field and, it's funny to say this, Calabar didn't touch the ball that much that night," he continued. "The only time they get it, is when they took it out of the net."
Confronted with the memory of defenders backing off for fear of being dazzled with skill in a 4-0 drubbing, he simply said, "it was fun".
Wray (2), Duncan and substitute Randall Clarke scored the goals with The Sunday Gleaner proclaiming on December 4, 1977, " ... the man of the match was undoubtedly Clarendon's linkman Lenworth Hyde,who was the architect of the victors' goalwards thrust and proved beyond a doubt that he is presently the most gifted schoolboy footballer in the island."
Even so, it is the long-running Clarendon-Vere battles, which lead to his fondest memories of his time as a schoolboy footballer. The two schools traded wins and losses in 1976, with Vere on top on the dacosta Cup.
The tables turned in 1977. "We gave them three-love down at Vere, and that was the pivotal moment, that was the match that stood out."
"I scored in that match and assist in two of the goals and it came back to Clarendon College and we gave them four," he concluded. When Clarendon beat STETHS 3-1 in the second leg of the daCosta Cup finale, it was the school's first hold on the coveted trophy.
Hyde had high praise for Chung Fah, not just as a football brain, but as a motivator as well.
"When Chung Fah finish talk to you, you look like you can lift up that car. The coach ran a tight shop, but the boys loved to practise. We're in class and you're looking at your watch, waiting for the time to come to go to training."
In a comment about team chemistry, he added, "So we enjoyed being among each other."
"He thinks the unit he called "the wickedest team I ever played with" is the best in Jamaican high school history. With due respect to the Kingston College team of 1964 and 1965, the Charlie Smith team of the mid-1990s and more recent champion teams from St George's College and Jamaica College, he tabled, "I didn't see the '65 team, but from then 'til now, I haven't seen a team like my team."