When the USA lost to T&T, disqualifying themselves from the World Cup competition last week, many T&T nationals were celebrating.
Despite having T&T’s own World Cup Russia dreams shattered long before, the strong feelings T&T football fans held toward the US football team has been burning since 1989, when losing to the US back then meant losing World Cup access. So for many watching the game, denying the US team the win and access to the World’s biggest football competition was nothing short of wonderful. Some called it payback.
One might think the feeling would be the same for all the members of the 1989 Strike Squad team, but for Kelvin Jones, one of the players, who remembers all too well that day on November 19, almost 30 years ago, revenge was far from his mind.
Jones, who watches all the national games, mostly to see his two sons Alvin and Joevin play for this country’s national team, said he couldn’t think of revenge against the United States football team.
“What happened then was really disappointing, but when I went to the Ato Boldon Stadium to watch the game, it was to watch my boys play and the feeling I left with was victory in seeing Alvin score and they both played really well,” Jones said in an interview with the Sunday Guardian last week.
He said he particularly felt good after having to listen to commentators harshly criticise his children.
“I’ve heard commentators say Alvin shouldn’t be on the team and I’ve heard people say all sorts of things about Joevin so when I watched the game, I felt really good about seeing my kids play. The performance made me feel so proud.
‘Victory’s no revenge’
“But the victory isn’t any kind of revenge for me.”
Jones is currently a police corporal, working in the finance branch and still plays football with members of the Strike Squad for exhibition games and to raise funds for their various projects.
He’s used to talking about his Strike Squad days, but he absolutely loves talking about his sons.
He said he talks to his sons a lot about football and often reviews past games with them.
“We watch the game and talk about what they should have done and what they shouldn’t have done. I always speak to them and advise them because I was in the same situation as well.”
Noting that it was difficult to raise boys in modern times, Jones said he had no problem raising his boys and recalled he would always take them with him to football games and most of his activities.
Jones, who watches all this country’s World Cup qualifier games, said while T&T had not done as well as the citizens would have hoped, he felt the team had a good foundation and could progress better if the administrators gave the appropriate support.
He also felt citizens could support footballers more.
“When I played I remembered the stadium would always be packed. It was a sea of red and it was amazing to walk into the stadium and you see all this red there to cheer for you.”
He blamed the lack of support on the administrators. “They really need to do a better job. What happened in the past is that as we failed with World Cup everything just falls down but there needs to be a continuation. The CFU and the Gold Cup is next year. What they usually do is wait till a month before competition to pull teams together but if they just continued training every month till then with the local players we can do better.”
Jones said the intensity required to always be on top was lacking but blamed the stagnant time between competitions for that.
He praised the fact that the majority of players on the field against the USA were local but said to keep the local professionals at peak performance, they should play at that level of intensity more frequently.
While Jones will not be supporting T&T in the World Cup, as an Argentina fan, he still has a country to cheer on.