McNab: Cornwall College unbelievable in 1963
When star player Billy Griffiths graduated at the end of the previous school year, pundits thought the Cornwall College football team might struggle for goals.
In its preview of the 1963 daCosta Cup, the outstanding SPORTSLIFE magazine wrote of Cornwall, "there is no forward of real class. No Griffiths. No Davidson. No Allen, No Thewell. Cornwall has lost its glamour." The experts were confounded as Cornwall swept all before them and scored goals for fun. Captained by tough tackling Noel Henry, with goalkeepers including a young Steve Bucknor and armed with midfielders and forwards with speed to burn, Cornwall routed their D-Cup rivals. Newcomers Holmwood were welcomed with a 9-0 walloping, with the free scoring Cornwall bashing Rusea's 6-0 and Mannings 7-0 and 6-0 in two meetings. The score was more modest 0-2 and 2-1 when the red-clads from Montego Bay met old rivals Munro College but when Munro lost to Titchfield, the daCosta Cup went to Cornwall for the sixth time.
The goal scoring assault was led by 15 year-old inside right Allie McNab and Keith Thorpe who both netted on a regular basis. McNab grew up next door to the school and started to hone his ferocious shooting power by fielding balls that went out of play and kicking them on the volley back into play before he enrolled at Cornwall.
Looking back on 1963 in a conversation on October 24, McNab recalled, "The 1963 team was literally the same as the 1962 team with the exception of Billy Griffiths who had left school and Exdol Mignott who had gone to JC."
The speed came from track and field. McNab, right winger Anthony Jumpp, left winger Barry Daniels and midfielder Kirk Taylor all competed in athletics. Once Henry, whom McNab says was ruthless in his tackling, and his fellow defenders Tom Chambers and Munro transfer Franklin Steadman won the ball, the Cornwall attackers would all zoom forward.
He credits sportsmaster/coach Ian Rerison for recognising the team's prime asset.
"We annihilated most of the sides in the daCosta Cup", he retro-analysed. "We were just on a different level because of Rerison, who brought a different approach, and apart from that, he used the athletic ability of the players," he continued.
Senior players like Thorpe helped little Allie. "Even when I became a senior player, when I got to certain positions, I could still hear the voice of a Keith Thorpe, the voice of a Barry Daniels, saying, 'kick boy'".
The two-leg Olivier Shield pitted Cornwall against a Jamaica College team that was on the verge of completing a milestone. JC already had tucked the Manning Cup safely away for the third time in a row and headed to Montego Bay by air to do the same with the Shield.
Rerison had other plans. "Try and win the game in the first 15 minutes," McNab remembers Rerison saying. "If you can get two goals in the first 15 minutes," the recollection went, "all their game plan would have gone through the window."
Jumpp struck in the fifth minute with a strike from his rightwing position that McNab still thinks was a mis-hit cross. Soon after, the precocious McNab produced a moment of magic. He chested a Thorpe cross from the left, rolled it down and smashed it on the volley past the keeper.
Rerison's plan had worked perfectly.
In the second half, Thorpe flattened JC custodian Orville Williams with a pile driver. After that, McNab, Cornwall College head boy Dwight Taylor and Jumpp scored to finish the rout 5-0.
"It was the one of the most glorious victories," he happily said. Though he went on to play for Jamaica and scored a big goal against West Germany, that win over JC at Cornwall remains a treasure.
"That one stands tall because this was Montego Bay," he proudly said. "You're not playing for Cornwall, you know", he added, "you're playing for Montego Bay."
A 0-0 score line in the return leg in front of 20,000 fans at the National Stadium gave Cornwall the double. Understandably, McNab has high regard for that team of champions. "That 63 side was just an unbelievable side," he surmised.