In memory of the outstanding Syddie Bartlett
Tony Becca, Contributing Editor
According to William Shakespeare, himself a great man, "some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them."
According to his friends and colleagues, Syddie Bartlett, one of, if not Jamaica's greatest-ever footballer, was born great, he achieved greatness, and although it is some three months since he died in New York in his twilight years, they and the masters family are coming together to put on a day of thanksgiving in his memory.
Led by Walter 'Blubber' Campbell, the centre forward between Bartlett at inside right and Anthony Hill at inside left at Doncaster Youth Club, and the solid centre half on the St George's College Manning Cup team of the 1950s; and Carl Lewin, the goalkeeper behind Bartlett on the YMCA Division One team of the late 1950s and early 1960s, the group of friends and colleagues are putting on a church service and a get-together to celebrate football skills of the highest class.
The church service will be held on Tuesday, March 23, at Holy Rosary, starting at 3 p.m., and after that all roads will lead to Curphey Place where, with football talk, mostly memories of Bartlett's greatness, expected to dominate the proceedings, with former St George's Old Boys and Jamaica centre forward Bunny Goodison providing background music, drinks and food will be on sale.
Proceeds from the event will go to the Kingston and St Andrew Football Association to assist in the funding of the annual Syd Bartlett competition.
Hill, a colleague of Bartlett on the Doncaster, Jamaica and West Indies teams, will pay tribute to Bartlett at the church service So, too, will former Kingston College Manning Cup rep, Dr Basil 'Bagga' Wilson, and KSAFA president Rudolph Speid, while Bartlett's brother, Michael, will read the eulogy, and Bartlett's sister, Rosie, will read one of the lessons.
At Curphey Place, the organisers will be catering to many of Bartlett's colleagues who, they believe, will spend the evening remembering the maestro and his genius - the man who, with the ball all but tied to his shoelace, dribbled like no one, at least no Jamaican, ever dribbled, certainly not during his time, and definitely not since.
Recovering from surgery
Owen Parker, a member of the YMCA, Jamaica and West Indies teams in which Bartlett starred, is recovering from knee surgery in Canada and will not be present.
Among his colleagues expected to be at both events, however, are not only Hill, Campbell and Carl Lewin, but also a host of others, including YMCA and Jamaica representatives such as Peter Lewin, Elvin Schloss, Henry Largie, Lascelles Dunkley and Alva Anderson; YMCA stalwarts like Milt Taylor, Alvin 'Body' Douglas and Lester Richards.
"Three months, or thereabouts, have gone since he died," said Campbell recently, "but it is better late than never. We had to say a good farewell to Syddie who, because of his twisting dribbles, many of us knew as 'S1'. He was a master. He was probably the greatest. We just had to wait until we could get his friends and colleagues together."