Senior Sports Reporter
Members of the T&T Strike Squad, which came within a point of qualification to the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy, celebrated 34 years of uniting the nation and the international community through football at an Anniversary Memories ceremony at the Bey Bed and Breakfast in El Socorro on Saturday night.
It was not the first time that former captain of the 1989 Strike Squad Clayton Morris had met with his troops—Dexter Francis, Floyd Lawrence, Marvin Faustin, Brian Williams, Kerry Jameson, Hutson “Barber” Charles, Kelvin Jones, Errol Lovell, Michael Maurice and Maurice Alibey among other players at a gathering, after that fateful day when the USA scored a solitary goal to end the Strike Squad’s reign 1-0 at a sold-out Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo on November 19, 1989.
The result led to the proverbial river of tears, but the benefits are still being reaped in today’s football environment, as more than 90 per cent of the team are now imparting their knowledge through coaching, and the country continues to bask in the glory of an era of football that can match any other the world over.
Coach Everald “Gally” Cummings, considered one of this country’s best coaches, could not make it to the function Saturday but was honoured by his players. ‘Gally’ was presented with a plaque and trophy ball by Charles, the man who scored the equaliser in a 1-1 result against the Americans for a share of the points in the first meeting between the teams in the qualifiers in the USA.
Then manager of the team Neville Chance, in reading out comments from Cummings, said: “I am sorry I cannot be with you in person to celebrate 34 years of togetherness and love among members of the historic team. That word—togetherness, I underscore, is very important in the world today. You must have had something very special to continue to meet as a team and continue to meet as a family and create an occasion like this.
“This is indeed the greatest feeling to be honoured by you and even a greater honour to see what you have done in your journey, to see how you have made a significant contribution to sport and life in general, this is an extraordinary journey,” Gally said.
It was Gally who introduced Kaisoca Soccer then and it transitioned to Soca Warrior by soca artiste Maximus Dan, who, not only made an appearance at the ceremony but entertained the gathering with a rendition of his songs.
Strike Squad teammate Alibey, now a successful businessman, was responsible for hosting the event. Before that, he was the one player to create panic in the US defence with his blinding speed, particularly down the flanks.
The Strike Squad members are expected to continue their celebration today with the hope that the Soca Warriors will pull off a victory over the USA tonight in a Nations League ‘A’ quarterfinal match at the stadium. The Warriors lost the first leg of the quarterfinals 3-0 in Austin, Texas, last Thursday.