Tony Becca, Contributor
Once upon a time, Jamaica's football was brother to Jamaica's cricket, even though, in those days, no footballer could match strides with a cricketer, especially one like George Headley or Alfred Valentine.
In those days, football clubs shared grounds with cricket and clubs like Kingston, Melbourne, Kensington, Lucas and also Railway played cricket during the first part of the year and football during the second part.
In those days, many cricketers, such as J.K. Holt Jr, George Prescod and Allan Rae played football and a lot of footballers like Noel 'My Son' Tappin and Lindy Delapenha, played cricket and they joined the same clubs. And in those days, club life was strong.
In those days, for example, Lucas, with the McLean brothers - Altamont and Lloyd - at the helm, were good. YMCA, with Owen Parker and Lester Richards, Carl Lewin and Peter Lewin, were also good. Melbourne, with players like Tappin, Bunny Clarke and Jamaica captain Dudley Smith, were also good. St George's College Old Boys, the Light Blues, with men like 'Muggy' Graham, Denzil Lue, Anthony Hill, with players like Ken East, Bunny Goodison, Norman Hill, 'Blubber' Campbell and Bobby Williams, were the talk of the town.
In those days, before and after, the WM formation was the order of the day and numbered among the country's popular footballers were players like goalkeeper Selwyn Murphy and forwards like Peter Pinhorn, Lester 'Fairy Boots' Alcock, Arthur McKenzie and Gillie Heron, Ted Ansel, Claude McMorris and Vivian Coy.
In those days, however, it was rather difficult to get into those clubs, someone had to 'get' you in if you did not come out of a high school and something had to be done about it; someone had to do something about it.
The thing was to find an alternative and the man who did it was Leighton Duncan.
A few days before Jamaica became independent, on Emancipation Day, August 1, 1962, at Cavalier, at Wolmer's Preparatory School, along Connolley Avenue, Duncan, a Wolmer's old boy, a former Wolmer's coach, a former Melbourne player, a former YMCA player and a former Jamaica player, came to Cavalier and formed a club from a group of young men from Allman Town, who played football there every evening.
The club was named, obviously, Cavalier Football Club, the president, the coach, was obviously Duncan and the members of the managing committee included Norman Hill, Alva Anderson and Ferdie Yapp.
The formation of Cavalier was followed by the formation of Santos and by the formation of Liguanea United and those three clubs were like a breath of fresh air to Jamaica's football.
They gave hope, a new hope, to young Jamaicans from every walk of life. Jamaicans went miles to see them play, especially against each other.
Duncan was a dedicated man, he was a dreamer who believed in football for all and of playing in the World Cup. He had visions of every one playing football, of them playing Division Two football and then Division One football, of his boys playing attractive football, playing for Jamaica and eventually going to the World Cup.
Duncan never lived to see any of his boys play in the World Cup Finals, but he did see some of them play in the Division Two football competition and win the cup under Cavalier's first captain, Lincoln McHorgh, and after that he did see some of them play in the Division One competition and win the cup.
Best footballers for Cavalier
Duncan brought the best and most talented young footballers to Cavalier, players like Ruddy Pearce, Delroy 'Mutty' Scott, Calvin Stewart, Clarence Prendes, Owen 'Ital' Stewart, Altamont McLean, the Welch brothers - Art, Asher and Roy, Neville Oxford, Billy Griffith, David Bernard Sr and others like Richard Davey, Warren Tullonge, Lloyd McLean and Derrick Plummer.
Good, experienced players like goalkeeper Vester Constantine and half-liner Larry Wynter also came to Cavalier and wore the Cavalier colours of black and white.
Cavalier loved good, attractive football, they played good, attractive football and they were the talk of the town in their early years, especially in their years with Art and Asher Welch racing down either wing and Ruddy Pearce standing firm in defence; and later on with Oxford dribbling down the right wing, backed up by Scott and Bernard in defence.
Pelé was Duncan's footballer of all time and Santos, Pelé's Brazilian club, was Duncan's club.
Pelé was the hero of every Cavalier player, Santos was their club, apart from Cavalier, and, therefore, it was no surprise that with the help of Desnoes and Geddes Limited, Cavalier brought Pelé and Santos to Jamaica on two occasions.
Santos won the Division One title quite a few times, they brought a new life, a new vibrancy to Jamaica's football and because of them, because of Santos, because of Liguanea United and their early recruits - like Patrick 'Blonde' Simmons, Rocky Johnson and Allie McNab - a new breed of players, hungry players and players with a mission, came onto the scene. They were players, at different times, going into different clubs, players like Wendell Downswell, Hector Wright, Lenworth Hyde Sr and also goalkeepers like Orville Edwards and Warren Barrett, and last but not least, the man with the undoubtable talent, the man with the natural gift, Allan 'Skill' Cole.
Cavalier have been away from the Premier League for a while. They are back to celebrate their 50th year and they are back when only one of the clubs which they came and saw is still in, when there are no clubs like Kingston, no Melbourne and no Lucas, no St James, no St Thomas and no St Mary still in.
When the action kicks off this afternoon, one of the matches scheduled will be Cavalier versus Boys' Town, the two representing the clubs from 1962.
With clubs like Seba, Reno, Wadadah and Port Morant United falling away, with one like the House of Dread gone but not forgotten, all the rest of the clubs in action, teams like Harbour View, Waterhouse, Portmore, Tivoli Gardens and Arnett Gardens, followed Cavalier into football, into the promised land, and changed the face of Jamaica's football.
FOR SERVICES TO FOOTBALL: Leighton Duncan (right), current technical director of Cavalier Soccer Club, and former national coach, national manager and national representative of Jamaica, accepts a plaque from Santos' President, Roy Howell, in recognition of his yeoman services to Jamaica's football in January, 1989. The presentation was made shortly before the Brazil Under 21-Santos All Stars game at the National Stadium. - File
DUNCAN ON FOOTBALL: Veteran Jamaican football coach Leighton Duncan, (right) chats with England's Jamaican-born winger, John Barnes (third right), and football fans who attended the opening of Santos' resurfaced playing field in July 1988. Duncan who is technical director of Cavalier Soccer Club was giving his views on the state of Jamaica's football. In a match played later, Cavalier beat Santos 2-0. - File