1995 Charlie Smith team gelled - Kevin 'Pele' Wilson
In 1995, Charlie Smith High School celebrated its 20th anniversary with a bang. Anchored by its 'Gang of Five', Charlie Smith delighted football fans en route to a Manning Cup, Walker Cup and Olivier Shield triple. Kevin Wilson attributes that team's dominance to teamwork.
Speaking in Kingston on October 19, Wilson recalled that he and his teammates were spurred on by a 1994 Walker loss to Tivoli Gardens.
"Just because we lost in the Walker Cup, so we prepared for the next year," he recounted. "So that's why we really gelled together and had a very comfortable team," Wilson reminisced with a quiet tone.
By the time Charlie Smith were set to face the 1994 Manning Cup winners, Wolmer's Boys, all previous opposition had been swept away. Heavy rain only tilted the balance to Charlie Smith.
"The rain made it even easier for us as we always prepared ourselves for rain games," Wilson revealed in a tribute to the preparation by coach Jerome Waite.
The final score was 3-0.
Describing Waite as "a coach who always look out for the players", he emphasised, "Only fire we never train inna that year."
He added, "The coaching philosophy we went through with coach Waite brings out that energy each game."
The skilful Wilson had scored 22 goals prior to that final and understandably finds it hard to pick one favourite. When pressed, he singles out one he put past Donovan Ricketts in the Olivier Shield final against Cornwall College.
"That was one of the good, quality matches that year."
Cornwall scored first but two goals from Everton Bunsie and one from Wilson did the damage at the National Stadium after the first leg had ended as a draw.
With Wilson, Bunsie, Cornel Chin-sue, Kwame Richardson and captain Eugene Barnes leading the way, the triple champion Charlie Smith team had come full circle from the 1994 Walker Cup setback. With Waite designing its attacking approach and the Gang of Five dazzling everyone, it's no wonder most football historians rank this team as one of the best ever to take the field in Jamaican inter-school competition.
Wilson agrees. "Up to today," he said with conviction, "People always recognise that year."
He concluded, "that team will always be a team people will always recognise."