Hubert Lawrence | Double Dreams and Hyde's History
It's no surprise that my Kingston College (KC) friends are already dreaming of a Manning Cup - 'Champs' double. They are no doubt fortified by hopes that KC's ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup win will open the door to other triumphs.
It's not impossible, but the double hasn't been done since Jamaica College did it in the 2010-2011 school year. Back in the KC golden era, it was an achievement you could count on. The peerless KC football teams of 1964 and 1965 followed the example of successive track and field teams, which won Boys' Championships from 1962 to 1976. During that period, the Purples did the Manning Cup-Champs double in 1964-1965, 1965-1966, 1967-1968, 1970-1971 and 1975-1976.
Calabar High, winner of the same double in the 1977-1978 school year, stands solidly in the way of the purple dream. Under the direction of Michael Clarke, Calabar has become a track and field juggernaut with seven straight wins at Boys' Championships. In addition, this year's win came with a margin of 90.5 points.
As things stand, Calabar will turn into 2019 with three members of its vaunted Dream Team in Chris Taylor, Dejour Russell and Michael Stephens, and World Under-20 discus champion Kai Chang. Overall, the current Calabar squad has 23 boys who won individual medals at Champs last season.
The double won't be easy, but that's why they run the races. Lest we forget, Holmwood Technical had won Girls' Championships in 2009 by 202 points and seemed certain to win big in 2010. Reality found Edwin Allen High on the rise. In the end, Holmwood won by just 15.3 points.
Perhaps KC can mount a challenge. We shall see.
More competitive JC
Expect Jamaica College (JC) to play a progressively more competitive role at Champs. The school will soon unveil its snazzy new track and field facility and that may put some wind in the blue sails of Old Hope Road. Disappointed in football for the first time in six years, JC will want to strike back.
Ironically, the Olivier Shield was won by Clarendon College, whose coach Lenworth Hyde was at KC before he went back to Chapelton. New JC track and field coach Neil Harrison was at KC for the last three years. Time will tell if coach Harrison will have the same luck.
In the meantime, Hyde has matched Kenneth 'Bop' Campbell of Vere Technical High School and Steve Bucknor of Cornwall College, who played for and coached their schools in winning daCosta Cup and Olivier Shield campaigns. That's elite company. Moreover, throughout his career as a coach, 'Teacha' Hyde has taught attractive team football and has brought joy to fans for more than 40 years.
When Hyde named Winston Chung-Fah, who moulded him and a superb 1977 Clarendon College team, as the 12th man in last Saturday's Olivier Shield win over KC, it was a touch of class. As coach Chung-Fah might say, "Respect is due!"
Like the Manning Cup final the previous Friday, the Clarendon-KC game was scrappy and tense. Trayvon Reid came close for KC when his 18th-minute free kick hit the post. In the end, the Purples would rue missed chances when Clarendon College substitute AndrÈ Nicholson scored a late winner from outside the penalty area.
With Hyde's history and the recent loss of Chung-Fah, Clarendon's win seemed to be written in the stars. As fans left the National Stadium, no one in purple seemed too disturbed. It was as if they understood that some things are meant to be.
- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980.