Back in 1999 when a full professional football league was introduced in Trinidad and Tobago many persons were very critical and vocal about W Connection Football Club being accepted as one of the eight teams in the inaugural league.
Many questioned how a “fete” match team could be accepted to play professional football. The talk all over was “W WHO”. The critics had a field day.
Despite all that distraction “W” as it is now fondly referred, won its first six league games only to be defeated by San Juan Jabloteh in the seventh game.
This was to be the start of a now famous rivalry in local football in the years to follow. Every time these two teams meet, the match is referred to as “El Classico” compared to famous rivalries around the world such as Man U verses Man City in England, Real verses Barca in Spain and Rangers verses Celtic in Scotland.
Beating Jabloteh to reach the 2011/12 Toyota Classic final against T&TEC must have been a tremendous feeling for the Connection camp and fans alike. How significant was that victory? What opportunity does it present for the Connection family, its players, staff, and fans? Last season represented by far its worst in its history despite playing some quality football.
The success story of this club reads very much like a fairy tale and its reading really puts into perspective the reason for the desire of this season’s young Connection team (average age 21 years the youngest in its history and in the league at present) to win this final and return the club to its winning ways.
In the twelve seasons before this one “W” has won twenty six major titles in local and Caribbean Football and has been runners up on nineteen occasions. It has won every competition it has taken part in at least once. The Club has never failed to reach at least one cup final in every season. In terms of cup competitions it has been involved in thirty-five (35) cup finals prior to this one and has won twenty-two of them.
Friday 9th December “W” faces T&TEC from 8pm at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in what promises to be a mouth watering final of this tournament put on by Toyota and the TT Pro League.
T&TEC in its first season in professional football has built up a very powerful and experience squad. Their success thus far during the early part of the season looks very similar to Connection’s back in 1999. They are top of the league table (by one point over Connection) and are into their second consecutive Cup final having lost their first to Caledonia AIA in the First Citizens Bank Cup, a trophy Connection has won a record six times. In 1999 early in the season “W” were top of the table and reached the first two cup finals then, both of which they lost to San Juan Jabloteh and Joe Public respectively.
Being in final number two for T&TEC thus far, they will not want to follow the similar history pattern of Connection in 1999 although they may well desire to emulate” W’s” rich history of achievements in the years to come. Connection’s class of 1999 included one Gefferson George who was one of the three goal-keepers at the club back then.
He is now part of the T&TTEC staff in the capacity of goalkeeper coach while T&TEC current squad includes no fewer than eight players that have been part of the Connection legacy over the years, the most recent one being goalkeeper Marvin Phillip who joined them just ahead of last week’s semi final. The others are Andre Pacheco, Romauld Aguillera, Bevon Bass, Akeem Adams, Brenton De Leon, Kelvin Modeste and Aubrey David.
T&TEC’s assistant coach Desmond Bailey also spent a season and a half at Connection in a similar capacity.
On Connection’s side of things two individuals who epitomize the W Connection spirit and rich history from inception in 1999 will be relishing the occasion despite seeing it all.
Head Coach and Technical Director Stuart Charles Fevrier has presided over “W’s” dynasty. Fondly referred to as “The Sir Alex Ferguson” of the TT Pro League by his peers, Stuart continues to have the hunger and desire for success more so with his young charges this season. He remains a fiercely competitive individual when it comes to football and winning competitions. Winning on Friday will still mean the world to him.
Elijah “Blade” Joseph played when Connection lost it first final as well as when they lifted their first trophy in 1999.
Over four hundred games and twelve years later he is expected to still marshalling the defense on Friday night for his beloved Connection, the only club he has played for during his professional career. At age thirty seven, his love and passion for playing the game competitively is very much evident. “Blade” has not only become a legend at Connection but is also a legend when it comes to the professional game in Trinidad and Tobago.
Winning the 2011/12 Toyota Classic Cup will be significant for both clubs in different ways. For the “electricity boys” it will represent their first major piece of silverware in the professional league as a club. For “W” it will be their 27th.
At the same time however it will also represent the first major title in the new “youngsters” era at Connection as they strive to create a legacy of the own, in a club steeped in the tradition of success. While in terms of finals appearances it will be T&TEC’s 2nd and Connection’s 36th these statistics will count for nothing when the referee blows the first whistle come Friday night at 8pm. This is because of the desire of the two teams and the significance victory means for both.
One thing seems certain for sure, is that it should to be a “Classic” final to remembered despite who ever turns out to be the winner on the night.