Finnegan On Football, Part 2

He may be minister of housing, but Michael Finnegan is also a football authority. Last night he discussed the strengths and weaknesses of Belize’s Gold Cup team – and tonight, he offers some historical perspective on their accomplishment. As you might guess, he thinks the players of his generation would have fared better at the world cup, but, first, we’ll let him explain why he doesn’t buy the argument that playing at altitude and travelling seven thousand miles affected the team.

Jules Vasquez
"These players were playing in unfamiliar grounds, at altitude, unfamiliar food, they had to fly great distances - like you have to take a five hour flight from Utah and you're playing within 36 hours."

Hon. Michael Finnegan - Football Historian
"I don't buy that - what we are trying to do, we are trying to excuse our way out of what happened in North America. I don't want to excuse our way of what happened out there. When I was involved in football, when we leave from Belize City - we leave in the back of a truck and from here to Cayo it's 'bang, bang, bang' until you reach because the road was so bad. How long does it take you from here to Cayo now?"

Jules Vasquez
"One and a half hours, 90 minutes."

Hon. Michael Finnegan
"Well it took us 4 hours to get to Cayo in those days - your whole body is covered with white dust from your head to your nose, to your eye, to your mustache, your beard to your entire body - it's totally white. You're taken to a restaurant to have dinner, that is at 2:00 and when you finish eating then you go to Broaster's Stadium about 3:30 and the game is to start at 4:00 and my team executed, we used to play for half of an orange - when the halftime is over they gave us half of an orange at the gate then they increased it to a whole orange. We were playing against the likes of Speedy Henry and TanTan Garcia and Pappy Smith and Pilis Neal and Turo Ortega - you know what kind of team that - that I am telling you about?"

Jules Vasquez
"Those players that you're talking about are great in that era but these players have more nutrition - they are faster, they are stronger."

Hon. Michael Finnegan
"Stronger? I don't know if they're stronger or faster Jules."

Jules Vasquez
"But in every sport has gotten faster and stronger in the past 40 years."

Hon. Michael Finnegan
"I don't know about that about that in terms of football, maybe that is your view and I have to respect your view and maybe you are right."

Jules Vasquez
"Well if it happens in every sport then you can't say..."

Hon. Michael Finnegan
"You have a point and I won't argue with you."

Jules Vasquez
"Nation's Cup, Copa CentroAmericana - if they had those things in that era, do you think Belize would have excelled in this region."

Hon. Michael Finnegan
"We would be flying kite - that's my view."

Jules Vasquez
"Something must have gone wrong then because if we had reached a fairly proficient level, regionally, in the late 60's and early 70's and then..."

Hon. Michael Finnegan
"Something went wrong."

Jules Vasquez
"Well you must know"

Hon. Michael Finnegan
"No Jules I don't know what went wrong - fans don't even go to game again."

Jules Vasquez
"Also you have seen the fact that none of the facilities have developed and you've written about it in Amandala - some of the fields have even turned into housing development."

Hon. Michael Finnegan
"Look at MCC Grounds - that thing is a disgrace."

Jules Vasquez
"But you're in government!"

Hon. Michael Finnegan
"I'm telling you it's a disgrace, I don't want you point at me and try to corner me to try to politicize - I'm telling the field is a disgrace."

Jules Vasquez
"It happened under PUP and UDP and maybe that's the thing.."

Hon. Michael Finnegan
"We won't hide it but maybe by me saying it and me writing about it might make it better."

Tomorrow, we’ll have the last installation from Finnegan’s extended discussion of the National Team, where he talks about his favourite players.

Channel 7