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The stage was set; the venue was the Victoria Park. Barrouallie folks were out in their numbers recently to support the local boys at the finals of the Inter-Community Football League at the park and, what a moment it was.{{more}}

As I think of football, I recall the days when the opening of that competition was a spectacle, one where we looked forward to the parade of teams. Do you remember Super Youths, Shingle City, Downstairs, Cashow, Humble Lion, Mortons, Jam Down, Sonics, Tumblers and many more? Those were the days of football, when in some eras, I, among many residents, lined the park at the town centre to see skills displayed. Speaking about skills, many would recall how “Strainer/F” juggled that ball as if it formed a part of his person?
 
He and the ball meshed. Then there were: Comic, Zard, Bessy, Kester, the Ash brothers. I also remember Delson Jackson, aka “Sugar Bom”, a natural ball roller. So too were Terry Gibson (Fariah) Joel Wickham (Sudden) Myron Griffith (My-e), the Collis,’ especially “Smoocher.” One recalls the work of Elmore Poyer, short in stature, but a good player. You couldn’t “run through” Poyer that easily, some said. Of course the forward players had to contend with goal-keepers such as Meth Morgan, Kingsley Richardson, Lance John and “Bag Hair.” Our football story is inexhaustive and each team not only had its following, but also its “bevy of beauties” who were staunch supporters!!!

Cricket, like football, has the names which made Barrouallie proud. I can think of Vibert Bute, Ian Alleyne and Lance John. My friend Nigel Frederick lives and breathes cricket, and I often ask him why he didn’t try the game at higher levels. His specialty, though, is soft ball cricket. A left-hander, one can depend on Nigel aka “Zero”/”Worrel” for cricket stats and information. He mentioned that teams such as Rebels, Underdogs, Verbs, Kearton’s United, Old Boys, Hill View, Pepper Seed and Three Acres graced the field at different eras and that Phillip Charles, Brother Price, Lenford Oliver, Buddy Doug, Kendol, Scounge and CP were names associated with the game, among others of course. He recalls that Baga Blazers was a team selected from the cream of the crop and who toured mainland St Vincent playing games.

Of course, the name Lance John is one which is synonymous with cricket. I asked Lance to share his story and he willing consented. Before, during and after his cricketing career, Lance John worked as a teacher at the Barrouallie Anglican School (1970-73), with the Police band (1974-1977) and the RSVGPF (1977-1980). He later worked at the ECGC from (1983-2006). From there Lance worked at the Port Authority from 2006-2012. However, while he had these work experiences, his love for cricket appears to rival them all.

John developed from the local youth squad in 1976, through to the Windwards youth in 1977, onto the senior Windwards squad in 1980. When the Combined Islands played their final session in 1981 and won the tournament, Lance John was a member. John was a permanent fixture on the Windwards team until his retirement. He also served as captain of the Windwards and national cricket teams. He was also manager/coach of the local youth team and selector of the Windwards youth team in 1984 and 1985.

Lance, known to be a left-handed opening batsman, always maintained peak physical fitness and was characterized for his aggressive stroke play and superb fielding ability. He always reminisced about the 118 he made in Guyana in the 1977 Youth tournament. The match was played against Barbados, with the late Malcolm Marshall leading that attack. His 110 scored against Barbados in 1983 at Arnos Vale, made him the first Vincentian to score a first class century at Arnos Vale. Of course he would have played a brilliant innings and scored 137 at Sabina Park against Jamaica.
 
A prolific run scorer, John boasts other achievements in the exclusive 3,000 run club in regional cricket. In the year 2000, Lance rolled back some years and form by coming out of retirement to represent the local ECGC Radcliffe to score 107 runs against Victors, thus giving them a victory in the premier division. Over a decade later, Lance was once again called out of retirement by the management of now LIME Radcliffe in a game in which he scored 98 runs, as was mentioned last week.

In his heyday as an athlete, John served as president of the Barrouallie Sports Association for many years and represented the Barrouallie Football team in national competitions as a goalkeeper. He also conducted cricket coaching clinics in Barrouallie.

John boasts a long and distinguished career, but the dominance of the opening pair of Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge acted as an obstacle to his elevation to the West Indies team. That of course, was unfortunate for a man who had excelled at his sport. Lance John, former national and Windwards youth, senior and Combined Islands opening batsman hit his last regional shot in the match against Jamaica at Sabina Park on February 23, 1992. He was afforded a standing ovation and applauded by the entire Jamaican squad and specatators at the end of his innings. I do believe that he will be called out again at the local level.

Like John, I am exiting from the tales of different eras, but not retiring entirely, as I plan to continue in a different medium. As such, this is the penultimate of them all….. so until next week, God’s will.

Angelic_boldeyes@yahoo.com

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