Fri | Oct 19, 2018

Can JC outdistance Vere?

Published:Saturday | December 9, 2017 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence
OLIVIER SHIELD CHAMPIONS FOR THE FIRST TIME: Members of the Vere Technical High School team which won the 1967 Olivier Shield. Stooping (from left) are: Newton Scott, Lascelles Shaw, Rupert Small (capt.), Errol Barrett, Neville Woolery, Livern Wellington. Back row (from left): Lloyd Walker, Neville Thompson, Bobby Coombs, Ruddy Wright, Corcel Blair, Sammy Lawrence and Kenneth Campbell.

If Jamaica College (JC) win the Olivier Shield today, a record they share with Vere Technical High School will be broken. During a period of supremacy, Vere won the Shield four times in a row from 1967 to 1970, to match success by JC in 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1918. With outright Olivier Shield wins in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, today's Jamaica College team stands on the verge of Jamaican schoolboy football history.

Ironically, an era of near absolute Vere dominance was ushered in 1964 when Englishman Derek Tomkinson left Jamaica College for the then three-year-old school located at Hayes, Clarendon. Vere became the power in the land with stars like Cornel Blair, Kenneth 'Bop' Campbell, and Allan 'Skill' Cole delighting fans with their brisk brand of attacking football.

Tomkinson, who played professional football for Chesterfield and Leyton Orient in England, had coached JC to three Manning Cup wins and two Olivier Shield triumphs. With him pulling the strings, Vere won the daCosta Cup for the first time in 1965 and when schoolboy football resumed in 1967 after a hiatus in 1966, the team from Hayes swept away all opposition. With Cole already showing the skills that would take him to professional football in Brazil, Vere walloped the daCosta Cup opposition all season long.

At the end of a high-scoring campaign, the daCosta Cup was won with 5-0 and 6-1 wins over Cornwall College. A solid 3-0 win marked the first leg of the Olivier Shield match-up with Kingston College at the National Stadium. A rough tackling return match at Vere ended 1-1.

The pattern continued in 1969. With Campbell now team captain, Vere ruled the daCosta Cup again. In one 21-0 romp over Happy Grove High, Blair scored nine times. Clarendon College were the only team to score against a Vere defence anchored by the outstanding Orville Edwards in goal. In the Olivier Shield matchup, Jamaica College were put to the sword. Blair, a firm tackler with a artful right foot, hit the net three times in the first leg won 5-1 by Vere. Campbell did the same in the second leg. That ended 5-0 to Vere.

Vere's dominance was shaken when Tomkinson died at age 40 before the 1969 season began. With Welshman Brian Hughes taking over, Vere kept rolling. STETHS put up real resistance but succumbed 2-0 and 0-0 in the deciding daCosta Cup games but the corresponding Olivier Shield win wasn't complete. Blair had been suspended by the Kingston and St Andrew Football Association and when he played in the first leg, it was ruled that Vere acted improperly by using a player who had been sanctioned by a related body.

Excelsior had been beaten 4-1, with Campbell netting three and Blair scoring the other goal.

Though Campbell, Blair and Edwards left school, Vere won both the daCosta Cup and the Olivier Shield again in 1970. Now with Errol Barrett as captain, the team found another goal machine in Anthony Douglas who fired 14 goals against Titchfield High in two meetings.

STUFF OF LEGENDS

Vere's fourth consecutive Olivier Shield victory was difficult. Kingston College eked out a 1-0 first leg margin at the National Stadium but were overtaken 2-0 in the return match. That loss was the first by Vere since 1965. Even today, Vere's long undefeated streak is the stuff of legend. JC fans are beginning to regard their current football machine in the same way.

Notably in 1919, JC shared the Olivier Shield with Munro after four straight wins. By comparison, when Vere attempt to win a fifth consecutive hold on the Shield in 1971, Wolmer's Boys School won 3-2 to consolidate its victories in the Manning Cup and the Walker Cup.

To make history today, JC must outscore Rusea's, the daCosta Cup winning school. The 'Russians' have won the Shield outright three times in 1989, 1992 and 2002 and have shared it three times too.