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#469931 - 08/10/13 11:16 AM WAS QUEEN’S PARK RANGERS THE GREATEST?
Marty Offline
by Michael Finnegan for Amandala

I can recall occasions when sometime around 1 p.m. I would hear a car’s horn blowing where I resided. That car’s horn was that of the young attorney-at-law, Mr. Dean Barrow, who today is the Prime Minister of Belize. We would journey to the M.C.C. Grounds to see Queen’s Park Rangers of the Stann Creek District play against the Avengers of Cayo and San Joaquin out of the Corozal District.



When you considered the standard of football that was being played at that time you would pray that this level would never end, but I was realistic in thought and accepted that all good things had to come to an end. These teams at the time played football as if they were playing music. The footballers’ movements and pattern of play seemed so well synchronized. Have you ever heard a good orchestra play? This is the kind of football I am talking about.

When the Queen’s Park Rangers came to Belize City to play a match they were so exciting and so good that when I left the M.C.C. Grounds there was nothing else that could attract me other than a good sleep. I wished for no food nor drink nor romantic liaison because the Queen’s Park Rangers satisfied all my heart’s desires with their brilliance and competence. I would wake up on the following morning, a Monday, and climb out of my bed still under the influence of the ecstasy from the Queen’s Park Rangers’ performance. One can never understand what I am writing about if you were not placed in the same situation. I have always asked Prime Minister Barrow whether he thought Queen’s Park Rangers were the greatest.

Let me introduce you to Queen’s Park Rangers’ defence line that made every opposing forward line tremble and left frustrated because of their failure to penetrate and convert to goals. The flying standing back, Turo Roches, accompanied by Elsworth Clare, Thomas Alvarez, the legendary Buck Palacio, the young and upstart Roy “Brazilian” Velasquez, Wilfred Walton and the stable and well-known Roddy Leslie, who was on the tail of his career with this Queen’s Park Rangers’ defence line and was also on that 1963 team who had traveled to Jamaica and excelled.

This Stann Creek District Queen’s Park Rangers team was so powerful that no single team was able to penetrate the above defence line, and we were always hanging our heads on our chests when the game was over. Between 1972 to 1978 the Queen’s Park Rangers team did not lose a single game. It took President Raymond Lashley’s intervention to create an All Belize selection which went to Stann Creek and defeated the mighty and previously undefeated Queen’s Park Rangers, 1 – 0. That was how the mighty had fallen.

Could you imagine their forward line was made up of: Garrincha Adderly, he also played mid-field and when Garrincha was in the middle of that field moving and rocking and creating plays, the piece of music by Tinga Stewart always came to my mind:

“Mi say fi play di music, play di music

Jump like leggo beast.”

The veteran, Steeler Garbutt, who created a sense of stability. Other players in their forward line included: Daniel “Dundee” Lino who by the way was also on that 1963 team which represented Belize so ably in Jamaica, Dean “Sarge” Lewis, Rabu Garcia, Timo Flores, Peru Olivera, Oscar Ramos and Ishley Velasquez. This was the kind of forward line that the Queen’s Park Rangers Team would present in a game which would leave the opposing team’s defence line “tonti” as hell, and to top it all off this is the kind of Queen’s Park Rangers Team that was successful for 6 consecutive years.

In 1974 the Belizean National Women’s Softball Team went to Santa Domingo and was successful and brought back gold to Belize. It was jubilation all across the country from the man patching the streets to the telephone receptionists in their offices to the C.E.P. and to the politicians both in and out of office. Belize was rocking, rocking to the bone.

Male football, male basketball and other male disciplines were left with their mouths open, but not because the people who participated in those male disciplines were not good: of course they were good! But the opportunities which surround our athletes as I write today were not available to them back then. This Queen’s Park Rangers team alone, without a doubt, could have represented Belize in CONCACAF and they would have been a challenge to any of the other participating nations, and I challenge anyone on this statement.

After the Golden Girls returned victorious from the Pan American Games, the manager who took them to their success, Raymond Lashley, was elected President of the Belize Football Association. Notice that I said “Belize Football Association.” At that time football in Belize was not organized into a Federation linked to FIFA and all its money and resources, as are the arrangements with the Football Federation of Belize today.

During Raymond Lashley’s two-year tenure as Football Association President, it was really like fire on the barracks. Lashley organized an inter-district football competition which saw a very keen contest between the Avengers of Cayo, Landivar of Belize City, Queen’s Park Rangers of Stann Creek and a selection from northern Belize made up of players from Corozal and San Joaquin. All these games were played at the M.C.C. Grounds and when you entered the stadium on any given Sunday afternoon the grounds were as if scorching with fire.

I can remember the first two games of that Sunday, Avengers vs. Landivar. Avengers defeated Landivar 1–0. in the second game Queen’s Park Rangers of Stann Creek District defeated the selection from the Corozal District by 2 – 1 and, if I can remember correctly, both those goals scored by Queen’s Park Rangers were bombs coming off the boot of Dean Lewis who was playing from the left side of the field. The results of the first two encounters therefore left Avengers and Queen’s Park Rangers to compete in the final.

Thousands of fans came in from Cayo, thousands came from the Stann Creek District and thousands from the Corozal District. The Belize City fans were out in large numbers. The M.C.C. was packed to capacity. President Lashley had to arrange for more benches and chairs to surround the field’s perimeter to accommodate the large crowd. The canopied area which provides shade from rain and sun over the bleachers was overflowing with spectators and all surrounding trees had people perched in their branches. Belizeans countrywide were tuned in to the live commentary by sports editor Manfred Atkins on Radio Belize.

It was Avengers from Cayo that drew first blood and if I remember correctly the first half of that game ended 1–0 with Avengers in the lead. In the 2nd half it took a concentrated effort by the Queen’s Park Rangers side to equalize with a scorching shot from Rabu Garcia on the right side of the field. The game was now 1–1. Speedy Henry of Avengers and Turo Roches of the Queen’s Park Rangers had their day cut out for them as both forward lines were driving in their opposing goals.

Late in the second half the veteran Dundee Lino scored Queen’s Park Rangers’ second goal, which became the winning goal ending the game 2–1, and Queen’s Park Rangers remained Champion of Champions. In an interview with my friend Turo Roches he said to me, “Don’t score first on Queen’s Park Rangers. If you do that you will feel excruciating pain. Peru, Timmo, Rabu, Garrincha, Sarge, D-line, and Ishley will all bring down pressure to bear on you.”

That was the kind of Queen’s Park Rangers team I know about. Tough, hard, exciting, constructive, elegant in their passing and a defence line that was the epitome of endurance and stamina. The phrase at the M.C.C. grounds before and after the game was, “It was mountain man against citrus man and the citrus men prevailed.”

In my view the Queen’s Park Rangers team was built around Turo Roches, Garrincha Adderley, Dundee Lino and Peru Olivera and the others rose to the occasion and became stars in their own right. That is what we need. To build a Belize national team around 4 or 5 super stars and find competent players to surround them. I would bet my bottom dollar that if this were done, Belizeans would see a Belizean national team that would hard to beat.

And on that note, when I return I will come back with Pappy Smith and the Avengers of the Cayo District.

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#470325 - 08/16/13 11:52 AM Re: WAS QUEEN’S PARK RANGERS THE GREATEST? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Reaction to 'Was Queens Park Rangers the Greatest?

By Wellington C. Ramos
Former All Orange Walk Player

I want to clarify some issues related to the article “Was Queens Park Rangers The Greatest?” that was published in the Amandala sport section August 9, 2013, by my friend Michael Finnegan. Before the team was taken over by Mr Frank Sharp, the name of the team was “Rovers”, which was founded, coached and trained by Dundee Lino D-Line because he was disliked after Queens Park Rangers lost the Inter-district Competition to Orange Walk Selection in the late 1960s. He was accused of selling out the game with the goalkeeper Ramball Rodriguez.

All Belize won the Inter-district Competition for some years until 1975 when I started playing for All Orange Walk, with Enrique Carballo, Gregzie Jones, Nolie Leiva, Cheesie Flowers, Studd Hendricks, Mark Anthony Chavarria, Matthew Williams, Romaldo Lambey, Matutue, Daniel Cacho, Renan Briceno, Bunz Bennett, Harrier Laing. We were the first team to defeat All Belize convincingly at MCC grounds. After the game we had to get a police escort out of the park inside our bus. The Belize City people were stoning the bus with bottles and cursing us out because they were angry that they lost. Delhart Courtney was the referee for that game. Dean Lindo took our team to Picwick Club beside MCC Grounds for a treat that evening.

The teams were grouped into divisions and we went on to win the Northern Division by defeating Corozal and Belize. We played Queens Park Rangers twice for the championship in 1975 and 1976 and lost the championship game 2-1 on both occasions. Queens Park Rangers did not defeat the Orange Walk Selection at any time during the regular season. The only team that defeated the Orange Walk Selection in the two years that I played during the regular season was Toledo 2-1 at the last regular season game we played in Punta Gorda Town in 1976. We lost two of those championship games the same way. Goals scored by Dean Lewis because Chavarria was too short. I told our coach at the time to put Lewis Thompson in the goal but he always seem to prefer Mark Anthony Chavarria for his own personal reasons.

I think that all the teams that played back then were great teams and the games could have gone either way, likewise the championship. Belize District has never had a team since then that I saw like the All Belize team with Michael Hyde, Madingo Barnett, Gene Guild, Bunu Cal, Harry Cadle and the others who I cannot remember right now. I was born and raised in Dangriga Town and I know and played football with and against most of the players that played with Queens Park Rangers. In fact Anthony Garincha Adderly, Roy “Brazilian” Velasquez Philip “Buck” Palacio and myself played for Sacred Heart Primary School and we won two consecutive championships before he went to Methodist Primary School.

The Football Federation of Belize needs to start the Hall of Fame and document some of the great football history with the players who are still alive. Whenever I meet with the football players I played with and against, we still talk about those good old days. So I would not say that Queens Park Rangers was the greatest but one of the greatest teams of all time.

Caribbean News Now


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#470885 - 08/24/13 10:18 AM Re: WAS QUEEN’S PARK RANGERS THE GREATEST? [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline


A ONE IN A MILLION YOU

The birth of Avengers came about when a selected team from Cayo was participating in the Belize Inter-District Football competition. The Cayo selection travelled to the Toledo District to participate and lost terribly to an unnamed Toledo team by 6 goals to 1.

The then District Officer posted to the Cayo District, Mr. Eric Fairweather, convened a meeting with his chief clerk, Mr. David Cruz, and other public officers who were also members of the Cayo team – Gerald “Speedy” Henry, Pappi Smith and other members of the public service. This meeting decided that this sort of embarrassment would never again happen to a Cayo team. The participants in that meeting made a decision to name the Cayo selection the “Mighty Avengers.” That was the birth of the Mighty Avengers.

The Avengers will have to be described to my readers in a romantic atmosphere for over the years these players have dazzled our eyes with romantic ecstasy from the football field. A defence line led by Gerald “Speedy” Henry, Winston “Tan Tan” Garcia, Elias “Legs” De Leon, Theodore “Bones” Lennan; midfielders led by Albert “Pappi” Smith, and at times I want to say that Pappi Smith was probably the best footballer I have ever seen play in this country. Some may want to challenge, and you have every right to challenge me, as we live in a democracy.

I can remember sitting upstairs in the Guinness pavilion at the M.C.C. Grounds in Belize City or going to San Ignacio to watch the Mighty Avengers play. I became romatically involved watching the Mighty Avengers and in particular the performance of Pappi Smith. I got so involved that now as I can relax and look back over the many years, the song Look at Us by Vince Gill come to mind.

“Look at us after all these years together. Look at us still leaning on each other. Look at me still crazy over you. In a hundred years from now I know without a doubt they will all look back and wonder how we made it all work out.”

You see I was in a romantic dream because of how this man played football; because of how he scored goals; because of the manner in which he executed plays, because the quality of his game was so well rounded.

Then let’s get back to the Avengers’ midfielders. Samuel “Pillis” Neal, he was a crafty and talented player, but, in my view, fell a little short of Pappi Smith. Everyone fell short of Pappi Smith’s caliber of performance, but Pillis and Pappi Smith together in that midfield for the Avengers were like Geronimo and his Indians invading the privacy of your land and your home. Oh my God! I never wanted to be in the position of those who opposed these two on the football pitch. When I saw the Belize team play in the Gold Cup Competition, oh how I wished they could have borrowed Albert “Pappi” Smith and Samuel “Pillis” Neal!

At times there were players like Nayo Waight, Calbert Robinson who were also excellent mid-fielders. Their forward line was made up of veterans Earl Haylock, Russell Waight, and Timmy Bedran, who passed away at a very young age.

To skip a beat, I first saw Timmy Bedran play football at Broaster Stadium. I cannot recall what took me to San Ignacio but I was so in love with football that when I heard a match was being played I made my way to the game and that was when I first set eyes on Timmy Bedran. He was off the charts with his brilliance, he was off the charts moving and passing the ball, he was off the charts making defenders look awkward. He was just what a footballer should look like. Rounded.

May I continue with the forward line: Jorge “Maya” Ortega whom I have written about before, David Smith, Arturo Azueta, Jim Arnold and Alwyn Smith. They had an array of talented goal keepers including the Wagner brother s, Anthony and George. Then to top it all off, Teddy Recinos. Over the years there were about 48 other footballers who played with the Mighty Avengers. I would like to mention all their names but “life is real,” as James Adderly would say. This newspaper does not have enough space to carry all their names.

Let me divert a bit and give you a little story about Arturo Azueta. When I was the manager of the Big Milo, I learnt through the grapevine that a 14-year-old boy by the name of Arturo Azueta was sent to attend high school at St. Michael’s College in Belize City. It was reported that young Azueta’s skill on the football field was out of sight. So I hurried my way to the then St. Michael’s College pitch to see him play. His performance was superlative and I became a believer. I hustled him off the St. Michael’s field and asked him if he would like to play for my team. Yes. I recruited him to play for the Big Milo and in the following year we became the Red Stripe team. This young lad made a name for himself in Belize City and throughout the country, and thus was the rise to fame of Arturo Azueta.

Remember I told you on more than one occasion how our Red Stripe team was split the following year when it would have been renamed the Toyota Cruisers as a result of the disagreement between Raccu Craig and Pomo Usher, who was the coach of the team. The use of the word “split” here is a little misleading, because in truth and in fact only Hilly “Ratch” Craig, Raccu’s son, walked away from the Red Stripe team accompanied by Pomo Usher and myself. No other player left the organization. Do you understand why I say that the word “split” can be misleading? This gave birth to Diamond A.

When we formed our Diamond A team we did not do too well during the regular competition. I can’t remember precisely if it was on the tail end of the regular competition or if it was during a knockout series which followed the regular competition when coach Pomo decided we needed to strengthen this team, Diamond A. We reached Speedy Henry by telephone at work at the District Administrative Office in San Ignacio and invited Pappi Smith, Pillis Neal and himself to come down to Belize City when Diamond A was scheduled to play and to play for us. Speedy said he would check into the matter and get back to us and sure enough he did. His answer was in the affirmative. Pappi Smith, Pillis Neal and Speedy Henry were now teamed up with Hilly Ratch Craig and Ramon “Toro” Alvarez and our first match with them was against the defending champions Landivar.

When word hit the streets of Belize City and San Ignacio it was like lightning and thunder in the skies. Oh they came in droves to the M.C.C. Grounds to watch that game. Hilly Ratch and Ramon El Toro were at their best. They were happy and comfortable to be aided by Pappi Smith, Pillis Neal and Speedy Henry. We defeated Landivar by 2 goals to 1, but no pencil and paper can properly describe the manner in which the second goal was scored by Pappi Smith. It is a pity that live broadcast television had not reached Belize yet.

Thereafter, Cayo players like Tan Tan Garcia, Theo Lennan and Nayo Waight came with their boots in hand to play for Diamond A. Pomo had to whisper to me one Sunday that remember we have our local boys who need to play; but to see the stellar performance of Diamond A with Pappi Smith, Pillis Neal and Speedy Henry was a story by itself. To see them team up with Hilly Ratch and El Toro was a performance of excellence and competence. That was the best I saw El Toro play, embarrassing defenders from left to right and while doing so laughing in their faces. Hilly Ratch was his usual elegant and brainy self, but I will not allow Hilly Ratch or El Toro to take away from this story about the Mighty Avengers.
David Cruz came to see me last Tuesday when I was in Belmopan. He brought me photographs of the Mighty Avengers. But what do I want to say about David Cruz? He was a super organizer! He was well respected from the ground to the top. He had tremendous influence with the Mighty Avengers. I don’t want to go as far as to say that the Mighty Avengers belonged to David Cruz; that would be taking it too far. But I bet it was close.

This hitherto unknown brain trust of the Mighty Avengers rose to football prominence in the country of Belize. He became the President of the Belize Football Association and did extremely well while he held that post. He once held the post of Director of the National Sports Council and distinguished himself in the Public Service rising to the rank of Permanent Secretary. David has served Belize with distinction in senior diplomatic assignments at our embassies in Washington D.C. and Taipei and at our Trade Office in Hong Kong. David had an engaging personality which could sweep you off your feet and he was always as cool as the other side of the pillow. To every athletic team in whatsoever sport discipline there is always a brain, and David was that.

When I began this article I said to you that the article would have to be written in a romantic fashion. Well, I want to conclude in a similar manner. And to quote from Percy Sledge, the Pappi Smith-led Avengers team “had us wrapped in its warm and tender love. For I love you for a long, long time and Avengers please say you’ll be mine forever.” Avengers will always live within my heart and the hearts of Belizeans because of their stellar performance and their excellence. They made Belize so proud when they participated in international matches. Speedy Henry recounts that they were successful in about 90% of their games played outside our borders in matches against very competitive teams such as Congolon and Platense of Honduras.

From the lyrics of Larry Graham, “Love has played its games on me. So I started to believe that I would never find anyone. Doubt had tried to convince me to give in, said you can’t win but one day the sun, it came shining through. The rain had stopped and the skies were blue.”

Oh what a revelation it was to see the Pappi Smith-led Avengers! You are one in a million!

And on that note when I return I will divert and show you how the Tenth was won.

by Michael Finnegan for Amandala

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