Thu | Mar 23, 2017

Hanover's long football legacy

Published:Tuesday | January 17, 2017 | 1:00 AMClaudia Gardner
In this 1989 photo, champions of the Lucea Corner League, Church Street, pose for the camera after winning the Michael Kelly trophy following their 1-0 win over Jockey Jamaica on September 3 at Watson Taylor Park. Standing (from left) are: Trevor Craig (manager), Dae Johnson, Lenford Lewis, Nigel Grant, Denton Brown and Owen Clarke. Stooping (from left) are: Troy Malcolm (captain), Denton Samuels, Dyett Reid, Leroy Bucknor, and Bryce Grant. Football has been the bond that has kept young Hanoverian men together over the decades.

For many decades, the "beautiful game" (football) has been the common denominator that has knitted young men and communities across Hanover together.

In fact, in the 1980s when Rusea's High School was the standard-bearer for the parish in the ISSA Schoolboy Football competition, the entire parish rallied around the school, which was seen as the one factor that kept the otherwise obscure parish in the limelight.

Up to a few years ago, every single day of the week, the parish capital's main playground, Watson Taylor Park, would be swamped with boys and men in the mornings and in the evenings. Even way past sunset when visibility was low, these players would still be running, dribbling, and shooting at goal. Hanover was awash with players of the sport and the camaraderie was great. Any form of violence was met with strong disapproval.

A simple community corner league would attract hundreds of spectators from all corners of the parish and the only shootings that would take place would be strikers' shots at goal. The only shoot-outs would be the deciding penalty shoot-outs at knockout games or during competition finals.

Jamaica's second smallest parish has contributed a plethora of players to the island's national senior and junior football teams over the years. These footballers have always emerged from several specific communities in the parish.

From the community of Bigwell Lane in Lucea, in the 1980s, came the pioneer Barron Coates, who represented Jamaica at the senior level. Three other stars also emerged from that tiny community: the late Denton 'Milwood' Samuels and his elder brother, Sheridan 'Worm' Samuels (now mayor of Lucea), who both starred in Jamaica's national Under-23 teams, and Horace 'Danny Boy' Samuels.

Horace, the eldest of the three, not only served on Jamaica's national football team, but captained the Jamaica Defence Force's (JDF) football team for many years, leading them back to the National Football Premier League just ahead of his retirement from the military in 1997. Bigwell also produced national Under-23 player Ainsworth Kerr and Linton 'Conch' Stewart.

JUMPP CLAN

In the community of Bamboo in Hopewell in the east, the Jumpp clan has given Jamaica Dewayne Jumpp and former national Under-20 sweeper Dawayne Thompson, while rising national star Brian Brown came out of the community of Montpelier in Sandy Bay.

Prosper Road has produced national goalkeeper Jacomeno Barrett; Steve 'Tickarus' Edwards who represented at the Under-23 level; and Ovando Edgehill. The neighbouring community of Central has also produced Jamie Ramasay and Andrew Thorpe, while former national Under-23 defender Andrew O'Connor was a son of Haughton Court.

claudia.gardner@gleanerjm.com