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Dorian still keeping fine

Dorian still keeping fine

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‘We scoring on he. Watch how he short.’

This country has produced a wealth of sporting talent over the years. In Football, Guy Lowe, his son, Rodney “Chang” Jack and Pete Morris, just to name a few, are household names. Who you may not have heard about is Dorian Phillips.{{more}}

Phillips, 57, is to this day, regarded as one of the most successful goalkeepers in the history of the sport in this country. Thirty years ago, in the heyday of 100 Pipers Roseans, when persons flocked to the Victoria Park on a weekday afternoon or weekend to watch the team play, it was Phillips who often took centre stage.

One of Phillips’ trademarks was being able to dribble the ball all the way to the opponents half and run back to his goal before the opposing team could advance the ball back in the defending team’s half. Through this mastered skill, Phillips earned the nickname “Snake beats”. Many were also amazed by his ability to steal the ball off the feet of opposing strikers. “Man, I used to just run out and pick ball off ah man foot and roll on the ground like three times and them ain’t even know what happened,” Phillips recalled.

A humble man from humble beginnings, Phillips grew up in Paul’s Avenue. He said that was where it all started around 1970. “We used to have a squad called Back Street side, and we used to just go and knock ball at Bishop’s College, Pastures and Victoria Park,” Phillips recalled. Phillips first played under the tutelage of Seymour “Rollit” Waldron, of the Avenues Football Club, before transferring to the powerhouse Roseans. “I used to just go in the goal and try to save,” he said. He would soon develop into one of deadliest sharks to put on the mittens of a goalie, snatching up every ball that lingered at his goal’s mouth. “I used to train plenty and get up all around 5 a.m. It was plenty work,” he stated.

The Senior National Football team photographed here in 1979 following their second placed showing in the CFU. At right, front, is goalkeeper Dorian Phillips.

Phillips admitted that in his day, football gear was a luxury. “We used to put up two sets of sticks and use the coconut trees as our goals and play non-stop,” he added. Phillips played only two years of divisional football before being promoted to the senior national team. It was then that Phillips went from just being a household name to a national icon.

Many opponents who took the field admit that they underestimated Phillips every time he set foot between the two poles. Standing approximately five feet six inches tall, Phillips said that all the other players would say: “We scoring on he. Watch how he short.” This played to Phillips’ advantage, and when he made his acrobatic saves, he would leave his opponents with their jaws hanging open.

Reminiscing about the good old days, Phillips said one of his most memorable moments came in 1981 when participating in the Caribbean Football Union Cup in Antigua, where the national team placed second. Phillips reflected on the warm ovations he received from the supporters there. “It was really crazy back then. I didn’t know I had become so popular in the Caribbean and the people there just loved my goalkeeping,” he related. Phillips also said that he was happy to play in Antigua because he had heard that Queen Elizabeth II was coming to watch the game. However, she never showed up. Five minutes before the game concluded, Phillips injured his leg and had to be ushered off the field. “When I came off, I heard ah whole heap of clapping all the way around, and as soon as the game done, one whole heap of mics was up in my face and people asking me plenty questions,” Phillips stated.

During his tenure with the national squad, Phillips traveled to play in countries such as Suriname, St Lucia, Barbados, Guadeloupe and Puerto Rico. Phillips noted that many persons scouted his talent and wanted to take him overseas to play professionally, but landing a lucrative contract with a team abroad never materialized. He, however, won numerous awards and later on played for the “Over 35” Football Team.

Close friend and former national football captain Tyrone “Tweety” Spence is of the opinion that Phillips is the best goalkeeper to ever play the game here in St Vincent and the Grenadines. “You could have never scored on Dorian. He was just too good,” Spence recalled. Spence added that he and Phillips grew up in an era where discipline and dedication were the order of the day when it came to soccer. Although they did not have international coaches, that never halted training. “Sometimes we used to have the captain of the team play the role of the coach and everything would be fine,” said Spence.

Today, Phillips looks at the game he loves from the sidelines or in the comfort of his home on his 29-inch television. The proud father of eight added that today, football is not the way it used to be years ago. The LIAT worker noted that there needs to be a much more serious approach to the game, and the players, especially the young ones, need to show greater discipline and dedication.

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