Best-of-the-best Premier League team
By Orville Higgins
The 2011-2012 Red Stripe Premier League has come to an end. I'd like to select a team from the league based on the most outstanding players. My formation is 4-4-2.
Richard McCallum from Waterhouse would get my nod for the goalkeeping spot. Jamaica is blessed with good keepers, but 'Spoon' just noses out the opposition for me. Jacomena Barrett and the veteran Edsel Scott were also up for consideration.
At right back, I have Boys' Town's Xavian Virgo. That's an easy decision: nobody in the league is as consistently good as Virgo on the flank and crossing the ball, although Rosario Harriott of Portmore demands special mention. Virgo is good in defence and attack, and is my pick for right back for the national team.
At left back, I like Andrae Campbell of Waterhouse, who gets the nod over Chris Jackson of Tivoli and Troy Smith of Village. At centre half, Adrian Reid of Portmore has to be one candidate, although his game did dip a bit towards the end of the season. Edged out was Montrose Phinn of Harbour View. The Stars of the East was among the best defensive teams in the league, and he was arguably the main reason why.
Waterhouse's Rohan Amos also stood out as a central defender.
My two attacking midfielders would include Michael Campbell of Boys' Town. This might surprise some. He is unheralded as a footballer in Jamaica, but he may well be one of the most important players in the league. His never-say-die attitude, and his ability to contribute virtually everywhere on the field, make him priceless to Andrew Price. In fact, I would have Michael Campbell captaining the team.
The other attacking spot in midfield would have to go Jermaine Hue. This may be my sentimental pick. Jerry's form was up and down as the season came to a close, but we all know what he can do when he puts his mind to it. Two players who'd also be in the reckoning for attacking midfielders are Ricardo Cousins and Woolery Wolfe. I admire the bristling energy that Cousins displays, and Wolfe is a special talent, but does tend to be too hot and cold.
I was encouraged to see Keith Kelly getting some playing time. When he comes back to full form and fitness, he is easily among the best players we have produced in modern times and could still be Jamaica's long-term answer for a creative midfielder.
My holding midfielders would have to be Oneil 'Bigga' Thompson of Boys' Town, and Rohan Reid of Arnett. Bigga Thompson's mere presence makes it impossible to leave him out. He is bustling and competitive and can contribute to either attack or defence, while Rohan is as good a box-to-box player as there is in the league.
Up for consideration for me as well in midfield is Cornelius Henry of Humble Lion. He is definitely one to watch as a hard-working midfielder. He doesn't always start for his team, and I am not sure why. The two strikers are Jermaine 'Tuffy' Anderson of Waterhouse and Tremaine Stewart of Portmore.
Dino Williams of Village must also be given special recognition. Had he not gone overseas, the golden boot that 'Tuffy' is wearing could well have been his.
PICKING MY coach
Who would coach this team? It's a toss-up between Calvin Lewis, Lenny Hyde and Price. All three have strong resumes. Calvin is the Premier League champion coach, but he loses marks for the horror fourth round his team had. Not to win in a single game against the other top teams.
Price, of Boys' Town, with less-quality players, kept his team believing till the very end, and Hyde has taken a rural Humble Lion, also with few stars, and was among the best at the very end. I'm leaning to Price.
There is probably no team in the league that consistently plays with the heart of a Boys' Town, and Andrew must be given credit for that. Unlike most of the other teams in the league, Boys' Town never really had a bad run. Sure, they would lose a game here and there, but Price was always able to get them going again.
Had it not been for one crucial boardroom decision when they used Marvin Morgan when they shouldn't, they could well have won the league. Those three points, plus those three goals that were awarded against them, proved to be the difference.
Orville Higgins is the 2011 winner of the Hugh Crosskill/Raymond Sharpe Award for Sports Reporting. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.