El Dorado East Secondary have been outsiders for most of their 2009 Coca Cola InterCol campaign, but they proved the ultimate darkhorses.

They conquered the final hurdle in Naparima College on Tuesday at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, to stall ’Naps’s’ bid for a record tenth national title. At least for another year.

With some help from national Under-20 player Daneil Cyrus, valiant custodian Christian Edwards and a battling crop of players, coach Trevor Spicer took an ordinary team, and achieved the extraordinary.

The ’Blue Thunder’ did so without the kind of talent of which ’Big Five’ champions St Augustine Secondary, Naparima College, Presentation College, St Mary’s College and others can boast.

It was sheer determination and fight, sturdy defending and prolific penalty-taking that allowed them to break their 23-year national title drought.

Cyrus and Spicer certainly feel so.

’It’s a good bunch of guys and I know we have a great fight in us,’ Cyrus said after his team had lifted the coveted trophy. ’I want to thank God. Without God we would never reach where we are now...

These guys were looking up to me, but I was looking up to them too, because I wasn’t all that fit, but they have a kind of fight in them I like. So it wasn’t anything for us at all.’

Cyrus was grateful to his mother for convincing him to return to school after the Under-20 World Cup in Egypt in September to try and secure a college scholarship, instead of joining the Pro League.

’If she didn’t convince me to go back to school, I would have never won this,’ he said gleefully.

Spicer could only express relief after his team won the decisive, heart-stopping penalty shootout after El Do fell behind courtesy of a saved Cyrus spotkick.

It was only the third time the East Zone had swept the League/InterCol titles, after St Augustine in 1981, and St Augustine/San Juan in 2006.

’ We work real, real hard,’ he said. ’We had a lot of ups and downs. Sometimes we didn’t even know where we were going to train. We’ve been training since March, because we have a little gym in school.’

The unrest between their students and those of El Do West Secondary was a setback. But having been upstaged by St Augustine both in the League and Zonal InterCol final, his team were determined to win Tuesday’s final.

’We tried to go past that (conflict) and uplift the name of the school,’ Spicer declared. ’We really have a good fighting spirit, which is the InterCol fighting spirit. We have a good defence, we have a real good goalkeeper, and as Cyrus came into the team, he kind of helped it.’

If they had nothing else, it was the will to win that took El Dorado past Naparima, and previously, South champs Presentation College and North League winners St Mary’s College. That will overcame the pressure of withstanding Shahdon Winchester and the Naps attack and playing 56 minutes with ten men, after a 1-1 regulation scoreline.

Principal Lallo Hart typified the El Dorado enthusiasm yesterday.

’Great. I can’t express the feeling,’ said Hart, who pointed out that El Dorado have also won the Secondary Schools Cricket League Super Sixes and National League titles.

’This is nearly 30- something years service (for me at El Dorado). This time we got it. El Do will perform in sport, El do will perform in athletics, El do will perform all round.’

Waiting is certainly sweet when the wait is over. As Cyrus put it: ’A long time El Dorado didn’t win InterCol. They’re so happy. We came from quite town to come down here to win, so I’m proud of the guys.’

El Do defies odds to claim Coca Cola crown.
By: Kevin Sunich (T&T Guardian).

Before they took the field at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella, on Tuesday in the 2009 Coca Cola National Intercol final against defending champion Naparima, not many gave the El Dorado East team much of a chance of winning the coveted crown.

But the Blue Thunder showed its courage to defy the odds and claim a 4-3 penalty kicks win after regulation time ended 1-1. El Do has had to face a number of challenges this season with the latest being a gang fight between its students and students from El Dorado West two weeks ago. Coach of the team Trevor Spicer said the team’s success has helped to curtail some of the negatives which have been circulating in the media.

“The players have an idle spirit, they might quarrel now and then, but they have an inner fighting spirit and that is good since Intercol is about a fighting spirit,” said Spicer. In addition to a number of injuries, the east zone Intercol runners-up also had problems with grounds to train.

“Our ground is under repair and we have had to find a place to practice. We used to train at the orphanage on a small ground, sometimes at Eddie Hart where we have become used to being chased and at the Tacarigua Complex which is also a small ground.

Sometimes we did not even know where we were going to practice until we reached the Savannah, and despite all this the guys were able to pull it off,” he said.

El Do could now be labelled as the SSFL penalty shoot-out kings after getting past Presentation and St Mary’s by that route in the quarterfinal and semi-final. “We have been practising very hard on penalty kicks.

We have even being doing it in the dark and that is why we were able to do so well.” Spicer said the return of national youth player Daneil Cyrus made a big difference. “He helped to strengthen the team defensively in addition to bringing a lot of experience”.