Wed, Aug


Star struck! -

The Pro League season is not properly over without a contentious list of the players who thrilled supporters, kept coaches in their jobs and had reporters searching for superlatives.

Clico San Juan Jabloteh captain Trent Noel comes out on top for me as the brain and engine of his club as they successfully defended their Pro League title and captured the Lucozade Big Six crown.

Sadly, Noel is so poorly regarded in terms of the international set up that, if he tried to buy a replica "Soca Warriors" jersey, Francis Fashion would probably refuse to sell him one.

Devon Jorsling is next with 21 goals from 27 league matches for Defence Force-the best tally in the 2008 Pro League.

He scored three times from just one international start and three substitute appearances too.

It was not enough to earn him a place on Trinidad and Tobago's Digicel Caribbean Cup team but he certainly has the respect of Bmobile Joe Public, St Ann's Rangers, Tobago United, United Petrotrin, Ma Pau, Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA, Jabloteh, W Connection and Economy North East Stars.

Yes, he scored against all nine rival Pro League clubs this season.

Joe Public's Kerry Baptiste is third. Whether it is whipping pinpoint crosses from the right flank or tucking away half chances upfront-he finished with 19 league goals-Baptiste has been a consistent performer for Public.

Like Noel and Jorsling, Baptiste is routinely overlooked by Trinidad and Tobago coach Francisco Maturana, which might say something about the acumen-or lack of it-of the writer.

But here goes the rest of my all star line-up anyway.

W Connection's Marvin Phillip gets the nod in goal for just being able to stay on his feet, let alone make crucial saves, after a tiring season for club and country.

He was more consistent than Public's Alejandro Figueroa and shades Jabloteh's Cleon John.

Phillip's steady Colombian teammate Eder Gilmar Arias is the automatic pick in central defence after a brilliant debut season that helped Connection finish as the stingiest defensive unit.

Jabloteh's athletic and versatile Noel Williams and W Connection's Nickcolson Thomas nail down the left and right back slots while United Petrotrin's Kareem Smith gets the remaining defensive position purely for keeping his head up and opposing forwards out despite such a disorienting season for club and country.

Connection's versatile left back Andrei Pacheco, Jabloteh's teenaged stopper Robert Primus, hulking Joe Public defender Keyeno Thomas and aggressive North East Stars marker Keryn Navarro get honourable mention.

There are just two midfield posts available alongside Noel and Baptiste.

Petrotrin's Keon Daniel did not play enough, while Economy North East Stars Sylvester Teesdale was steady but rarely spectacular.

So, Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA's Walter Moore gets the left flank assignment for his accurate crosses and crucial goals.

Who knows what the Guyanese wing back could achieve if his legs do not turn to jelly whenever an opposing defender looks his way.

Public captain Dale Saunders, St Ann's Rangers' playmaker Ricky Charles and Stars' leader Anthony Wolfe made good cases but, for me, Marvin Oliver gets the last slot for his storming end to the season.

Oliver looked like a puppy at the end of a short leash for the first half of the season and the adventure so evident during his Caledonia tenure was badly missed.

But he deserves credit for adjusting to an orthodox midfield role without losing his knack for crucial goals or a tidy pass.

Jabloteh coach Terry Fenwick singled out the mid-season signing of Jerol Forbes as crucial to their Pro League success and Forbes' ten goals from 15 league outings since his move from United Petrotrin offers no room for argument.

Forbes' pace, strength and fierce strikes on the run win him a place alongside Jorsling.

But Public's Gregory Richardson deserves special mention for his superb showings in the CONCACAF Champions League.

He scored five times in the showcase competition but managed just three league goals from his final tally of 12 items in all competitions.

Credit too to Rangers' composer frontman, Josimar Belgrave, who could probably find the back of the net blindfolded. Belgrave got 15 league goals but missed much of the last month with a groin injury that surely contributed to Rangers' failure to land a Big Six place.

And we will keep an eye out for United Petrotrin's striker Kevon Woodley who was in sizzling form towards the death.

Of course, so will other clubs as Petrotrin seem to be hemorrhaging players at the moment.

Who says football is just about goals and trophies though?

So here is a "thank you" to my favourite artists this season.

Figueroa looks so cool between the uprights that he probably sweats ice cream.

He beats out the talkative Defence Force custodian Selwyn George for my idea of a good time in gloves.

What took you so long Sheldon Emmanuel?

Emmanuel seemed unwilling to leave St Lucia for Caledonia this season and only got here in time for the final round.

The left sided defender has the heart of Marvin Andrews, the lungs of Cyd Gray and even chips in the odd set piece. It would probably be worth turning up just to see him tackle a bake and shark.

Something would be amiss if one spoke of tackling and did not mention Rangers' hardman Joseph "Gouti" Peters.

Maybe it is pre-ordained that Rangers are based in St Ann's as their utility player often looks ready to succumb to football's answer to "road rage".

Buttocks clench when "Gouti" goes into a tackle but his seven league goals testify to the fact that he can play too.

Fresh faced Ma Pau FC midfielder Sherron Joseph can outshine a van full of Brazilians when he is running at opponents. Need I say more?

Arnold Dwarika contributed just three goals for Joe Public this season, which matches the output of their solid but uncultured Jamaican central defender Christopher Harvey.

It will not get him near my "high performance" squad but, when it comes to entertainment, one Dwarika drag equals two dozen Hayden Tinto step overs.

Jabloteh are renowned for their physical, aggressive approach so it is fitting that they produced a swashbuckling, dribbling winger who is deceptively strong and impossible to kick out of a game. His name is Jason Marcano. Just pass him the ball and reach for a bag of popcorn.

And, further upfront, if Tobago United's Guyanese employee Collie Hercules had dreadlocks, was a few inches taller and had a Trinidad and Tobago passport, he would be W Connection attacker Andre Toussaint.

Okay, so Toussaint and Hercules look nothing alik e but the similarities in the way they caress the ball, dance around tackles, pick out runners and disdainfully ignore opposing defenders is uncanny.

Tobago managed a paltry 12 points from 27 games but Hercules, who contributed 11 of their 25 league goals this year, made sure that you never regretted turning up to watch them play. See you guys next year.

My All Stars:

Marvin Phillip (W. Connection), Nickcolson Thomas (W. Connection), Kareem Smith (Petrotrin), Eder Gilmar Arias (W. Connection), Noel Williams (Jabloteh), Kerry Baptiste (Joe Public), Trent Noel (Jabloteh), Marvin Oliver (Jabloteh), Walter Moore (Caledonia), Jerol Forbes (Jabloteh), Devon Jorsling (Defence Force).

My Entertainers:

Alejandro Figueroa (Joe Public), Joseph Peters (Rangers), Elijah Joseph (W. Connection), Sheldon Emmanuel (Caledonia), Michael Edwards (Defence Force), Arnold Dwarika (Joe Public), Sherron Joseph (Ma Pau), Kendall Velox (Caledonia), Jason Marcano (Jabloteh), Collie Hercules (Tobago), Andre Toussaint (W. Connection).