When former national football coach Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore didn't heed the call of the public to summon Jermaine 'Tuffy' Anderson, many were puzzled.
Tuffy, a cult figure among the football-loving people of Waterhouse and the wider Jamaica, was designated the country's cure to our World Cup qualification woes.
But, alas, Tuffy's phone never rang. Waterhouse supporters even protested that he wasn't being given a fair chance. Usually, when you hear people crying for justice for a man in Jamaica, it is because he was killed by the security forces. This was truly refreshing.
So, after Tappa lose di work, Winfried 'Winnie' Schäfer, the amicable German, stepped in. And, like any sensible coach looking to win over the public, called Tuffy into the squad. And wouldn't you guess it? In his second game, with his second chance, Tuffy scored. A real poacher's goal, he just needed a fraction of his boot to steer the ball past the Costa Rican goalkeeper. It wasn't the victory we needed, and with only two games to go, it may ultimately prove futile. But at least, for the Jamaican supporters who bothered to attend the game (some say there were more Costa Ricans in the stands), it gave them the joy they haven't seen in this campaign since the first draw against Mexico.
Tuffy's selection was vindicated in their eyes, and the inevitable comments, like, 'If Tuffy did deh deh long time ...' started to surface. In fairness to Whitmore, we are all experts in hindsight. Sure, there is the possibility that Tuffy would have made a positive difference and we would be in far better shape in the qualifying group (right now we're practically comatose). But it is possible that Tuffy may not have had the success many think, and then we'd be in the same position (we're last, so we couldn't be any worse). Who knows? The fact is, your powers of persuasion would have to be of the highest order to convince rabid Reggae Boyz fans that introducing Tuffy earlier in the campaign would not necessarily have saved our skins.
Tuffy is an easy person to root for. Humble background, doesn't try to 'twang' when he speaks (you get the real patois), gives everything on the field, and is entertaining. He's the type of character I've felt the team needed from the beginning. And, ironically, in Tuesday's game, Tuffy wore the number '5', once donned by one of my all-time favourite Reggae Boyz, Ian 'Pepe' Goodison. Coincidence?
Whatever happens in the next two games, and whether we get the results we need in the other teams' fixtures, Tuffy has provided us with the feel-good factor that has been largely missing from this campaign. If this is his biggest moment, let's all enjoy it.
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