Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Hubert Lawrence | The last Olivier Shield?

Published:Thursday | December 7, 2017 | 12:14 AM
Jamaica College lifting the Olivier Shield at the Stadium East field in 2013.

For more than 100 years, the Olivier Shield has supplied some of the most memorable displays of schoolboy football.

Among them are the 5-0 demolition of Jamaica College by Cornwall College in the 1963 first leg in Montego Bay, the determined 1971 win by Wolmer's Boys over Vere Technical, the artful 4-0 exhibition of superiority by Clarendon College over Calabar High in the second leg in 1977 and the 1995 triumph by Charlie Smith Comprehensive, led by 'the Gang of Five', over Cornwall. It's a wonderful tradition that has put the top Corporate Area team face to face with the best unit from outside of Kingston.

By extension, the Shield is the symbol of supremacy in schoolboy football.

That position is under threat. The FLOW Super Cup pits the four top teams from the daCosta Cup against a quartet of their counterparts from the Manning Cup. That gives the Super Cup a more national feel than what has recently become a one game Olivier Shield play-off. Given the way the Super Cup is growing to include more games outside of Kingston, a time will come when it has all the elements that have made the Shield special ... and more.

When that happens, the Olivier Shield won't be a conclusive test of urban/rural football supremacy. That role will have passed to the Super Cup. Luckily, not all of the time honoured tradition needs to be sacrificed.

Since the Super Cup does what the Olivier Shield does, but since the century-old competition carries so much important tradition, one suggestion is to relaunch the Super Cup as the Olivier Shield. It would take one match off the packed Christmas term of football that confronts players and administrators alike. Unless the Cup moves to floodlit Fridays in January, every bit of rest in the Christmas term is worth a great deal to the student footballers involved.

In the old days, the Shield played to packed houses. In 1971, then Prime Minister Hugh Shearer flew down to Vere Technical High School for the Olivier Shield first leg via helicopter.

His arrival revved up home fans who were delighted that their Member of Parliament had come to watch Vere. The return leg was seen by a National Stadium crowd far larger than the bleachers could accommodate.

Last Friday, the National Stadium grandstand comfortably held the combined support of Jamaica College and Saint Andrew Technical High School at the Manning Cup final.

Hopefully, this Saturday's Olivier Shield showdown between the Rusea's School and Jamaica College will fill the venue. If it doesn't, it might well be the green light to change.

The light might already be on.

• Hubert Lawrence has made notes at track side since 1980.