It is with sadness that the Veteran Footballers Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago received news of the passing of former outstanding footballer and National Youth Team Coach, Mr. Ken Hodge.
Mr. Selby Browne, President, of the Veteran Footballers Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (VFFOTT) expressed his sadness on receiving news of the passing of our own Mr. Ken Hodge and extends his condolences to Ken’s wife Barbara, children, family, relatives, friends and several footballers, giving thanks for the wonderful memories and great fun, laughter and camaraderie we enjoyed.
Mr. Aubert “Nobbie” Phillips, former national footballer, informed that Ken died last Tuesday morning March 31st 2020, after his health challenges over the past several months.
Born in 1936, Mr. Ken Hodge made a significant contribution to football in Tunapuna, St. Joseph, East St. George County and represented both the North Trinidad team and the Southern Amateur Football league - SAFL. He was an outstanding coach and served with the national youth team at one time. He gave back to the game by sharing his vast knowledge and commitment to football as a coach of the San Juan Jabloteh Club.
Ken was a talented footballer from Tunapuna who was fearless on the football field, a clever ball dribbler, expert reader of the game with a powerful shot with both feet.
Ken Hodge’s early football club was the Ebony of Tunapuna where his teammates were the Bain brothers Vernon and Willie, the Gordon brothers, Horace, Rudolph, Clebert, the youngest of whom was Cuthbert “Loro” who also played for Malvern. The competition in the Tunapuna and East St. George League was fearless with clubs such as Invaders and Niads who had several outstanding footballers that included; “Red Light” Huggins, Eddie Hart, Eric Payne, Boysie Ramdath, Earle Murray and many others.
Ken also played for the Corinthian’s Club from St. Joseph and his teammates were Lloyd Hernandez an outstanding forward, along with the Joseph brothers. Ken was married to Barbara Hernández the sister of his teammate and captain. The Corinthian’s Club archrival was the All Stars Club from Curepe which included footballers such as my cousin Arthur “Jap” Brown, the Grayson brothers Clive and Leon, George “Starboy” Earle, Cecil Williams, John Sobers, Frank Applewhite, with Ken Clarke in goal. Those matches were played before crowds of thousands, at the maximum sized football field at the St Joseph savannah over the train line (now priority bus route) past the St. Joseph police station.
Several of the footballers from the East were invited to join clubs in the Port of Spain League to play in front the Grand Stand at the Queens Park Savannah from where participation in the North Trinidad versus South Trinidad matches lead to selection to the Trinidad and Tobago National Team.
Ken, “Jap” and Eddie Hart were members of the popular Malvern team of the 1960’s, with the famous forward line that represented both the Malvern Club and North Trinidad teams. The forward line was comprised of Arthur “Jap” Brown, Kelvin Berrassa, Carlton “The General” Franco, Ken Hodge and Eddie Hart.
That Malvern club forward line followed in the footsteps of the famous Woodbrook club’s forward line of the 1940’s when the entire forward line represented, the Port of Spain League, the North Trinidad Team and the Trinidad and Tobago National Team. On that first occasion in the 1940’s, the Malvern forward line was; Carlton “Putty” Lewis, Carlton “Squeakie” Hinds, Fedo Blake, Phil Douglin and Lio Lynch.
The Malvern Club won prestigious football trophies on several occasions, between the 1940’s to the 1970’s which included; the FA Trophy, BDV and Port of Spain League Cup. Malvern gave to Trinidad and Tobago some of the finest footballers.
Apart from representing the Malvern Sports Club, Ken Hodge was also invited to work in the Energy sector where he served as a security guard and represented the Southern Amateur Football League - SAFL with teammates such as Edgar Vidale, Jim Lowe, “Son” Baptiste, “Rock” Riberrio and several others during the glorious days of huge crowds attending football in Trinidad and Tobago in the 1950’s. At that time the Trinidad and Tobago National team would journey on tours to England.
The outstanding footballers, cricketers and sportsmen were also offered jobs with companies in the Energy sector based on their sporting prowess with a remuneration package that included, bachelor quarters, family houses some with piped natural gas and attractive pension plans.
In 2017 our VFFOTT members held one of our Community celebrations with the Tunapuna Community Club at the Mount St. Benedict football ground, at which several past footballers, administrators and football fans gathered to enjoy a day of camaraderie. On that occasion Mr. Ken Hodge, Calvin “Offstick” Lewis and “Jack” Valentine were honoured for their outstanding contribution to sport in general, football in particular.
The funeral service for Ken Hodge is scheduled for Monday 6th April 2020, at the Lee’s Funeral Home in St. Augustine, where at maximum five mourners will be allowed in accordance with the restrictions implemented at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.