Mucurapo 1978, a team of lore

L-r, Eric White, Emmerson Dubisson and Ian Clauzel, Mucurapo vs Tranquility, QPO, 1978.

By Veersen Bhoolai, December 3, 2019

vbhoolai@hotmail.com

It is rare for a team to win no trophies yet be revered by a nation. It is even rarer for them to be still spoken of four decades later.

 

However, this was the Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive team of 1978. A talented bunch of youths spearheaded by a young Rastafarian, Ian Clauzel, the Dread Dribbler.

 

But although the masses may have come out by the thousands to see Clauzel humble the College Football League’s (CFL) best defenders, there were others who based on ability alone could take your breath away.

 

Clauzel’s fellow strikers were Eric “Old Man” White and Wendell “Tractor” Belgrave. Behind them was the multifaceted Emmerson Dubisson who marshalled both the midfield and defence.

 

Clauzel seemed to be in his own stratosphere as he bamboozled team after team.

 

MSC Captain, Novelle Gittens (Centre Back),  says, “Ian Clauzel was … a leader on and off the field but most of all he was a team player. He wasn’t into all the glamour and fame that he attracted playing for MSC.”

 

Former national Striker, Graeme Rodriguez won the National Intercol title with Fatima in 1979, he makes it clear that from his playing days in the seventies until now, Clauzel, is in his opinion the best player to come out of the Secondary Schools’ League, “ … He was in my opinion the best College’s League player I have ever seen. He also played on a team of top-class players who complimented his style of play, … like Emmerson Dubisson and Eric White – great players in their own right.

 

“Clauzel, knowingly or unknowingly, instilled fear in teams before even setting foot on the soccer field, he was that good! His skill at that time was at a level much higher than all the players in every game he played. I was now making my debut in the College’s League and my older brother Christian who was a top class (CFL) player always told me about the greatness of Clauzel. He too was a big fan.”

 

Rodriguez continues, “If I did not have a game that year, I would find myself going to see him play. It was a must see” He admits that he was abroad and did not see much of Dwight Yorke in the SSFL “although I am sure that Dwight dominated his era.” He emphasizes, “Clauzel was different. Masses of people would be drawn to his games, fans of different teams just to see him play and look on in amazement. He never disappointed.”

 

One would think that was praise enough but Rodriguez is not finished, “Russel Latapy was a great, great, College player and he played on a great side with players the likes of Leonson Lewis and Dexter Gill amongst others. Other great players I saw in the College’s League were (Richard) Chinapoo and Vernon Skinner … for Trinity, Garnet Craig, Anton Corneal and Ronnie Simmons for Fatima, Peru Anderson, Garfield DeSilva for John D and Eddy for QRC are a few of the many players I saw play and played with and against who were … very special but to me there was something about Clauzel. He just had it, maybe it was his personality, his humility which in some way enhanced his soccer gifts on the field that gave him (that something) a little extra special that all the great ones have.”

 

With the talented trio of Clauzel, Dubisson and White, Mucurapo tore through the opposition. They then met John Donaldson Technical Institute in a historic North Zone Final in 1978. This was undoubtedly a turning point in Intercol history as the halcyon days of the prestige schools were no longer a certainty. Together, Mucurapo and John D represented the voice of the grassroots fan.

 

They came out in the tens of thousands, the Queen’s Park Oval was sold out and ten thousand more were left outside.

 

John D was a talented outfit as well and they were determined not to be the bridesmaid in this encounter. They had in their ranks, Alan “Peru” Anderson and five other players who would go on to the National Youth Team  so this was an encounter chock-full of pedigree.

 

The Dread Dribbler showed his class in the first half drawing first blood for Mucurapo. “John D attacked, my Goalkeeper kicked it out to just on the half line. I was facing him and made a half a turn on my right foot and hit it with my left. The goalkeeper did not move. He only dived after the ball went in.”

 

Dale Hinds and Harmon Lucas countered for John D and a battling Mucurapo hit the post twice courtesy of Clauzel and White but in the end succumbed 2-1.

 

Mucurapo Captain, Novelle Gittens, distinctly remembers the huge crowd that turned up for the Final. “In my opinion MSC brought the crowds back to Intercol football which was lacking in the past. …I remember when Ian scored the first goal of the game – a beauty – seeing the packed Oval crowd go wild with enthusiasm. It was unbelievable. To this day people still remind me of the joy that the ’78 Mucurapo team gave to the masses.”

 

John D Captain, Clyde Joseph, has distinct memories of the crowd and the goal. “We were housed at Harvard Club and walked over to the Queen’s Park Oval before the game. We entered we didn’t see anybody there. When we exited the Dressing Room, we couldn’t believe how many people were in the Stands.”

 

Regarding Clauzel’s goal, he says many people don’t know this but “He hit a shot … the ball ricocheted off my leg and beat

my ‘Keeper. It was real fast. People didn’t see (it). They just saw the ball in the back of the net.”

 

Joseph Bacchus, who started in the midfield for John D admits that the MSC team of ‘77/’78 was a breath of fresh air for

Colleges’ Football. He makes it clear however, that in no way was his team worried about Moose (Clauzel) or Old Man (White).

 

“We had one concern for that game and it was Dubisson. We shut him down and that was the game.”

 

He credits their Coach Noel “Brigand” Gonzales and his Assistants for having a plan as well as fellow midfielder, Lyle Skinner,

“the masterpiece.”

 

Bacchus explains that although Clauzel and Mucurapo were getting a lot of attention, “We were on par. We really matched

up well with each other.

 

“On that day we were much better. If Mucurapo had scored three, we would have scored four. If they had scored four, we

would have scored five. That’s how good we were.”

 

Goalkeeper, Glennon Foncette, whose son, Adrian, has played for TT at Junior and Senior level, recounts the John D clash.

“I remember crying after (the game). The Oval was sell out. There were over twenty five thousand people there. I remember

thinking what I go do if we had drawn and I had to play over the game.”

 

Regarding the goals scored on him, Foncette explain that he had gotten some stick for the second. “I got the blame for that

goal. People thought it had come off my hand. But when I saw the highlights on TV …” such was not the case.

 

“The goal came off a corner, it was swinging in and Hammond Lucas came running in. I cuffed it and it came off the side of his head. Winston Layne was guarding the near post and it squeezed in between his head and the post.”

 

He explains that Mucurapo never gave up. “Clauzel and White were skating in for the equalizer and the ball just wouldn’t go in. It was something to see. The crowd were willing us to win.” Afterwards “There was a lot of crying from the spectators, family and friends.”

 

Clauzel points out this game as one of the few lows of his footballing life, however, “They deserved to win. I scored one but they scored two. I accepted it. I did my best.”

 

One can understand the dismay of the Mucurapo supporters, the previous year, Clauzel and company had run roughshod over all opposition in the Championship Division winning every game. Entering the nationwide Barclay’s Knock Out tournament, they met League Champs, Trinity College in the final and humbled them 5-2. “I scored the last goal. We played all over them. They didn’t know what hit them.”

 

Vice-Captain, Kenneth Ola Vincent, remembers the encounter on St. Mary’s Grounds. “We were leading 3-0 at half time and it seemed like the game was over. The crowd hoisted Clauzel and Eric White on their shoulders. The Principal was in her glory. We couldn’t get to the Locker Room.”

 

Vincent has a distinct memory of Clauzel leaving four Trinity Defenders in his wake and scoring on an open net.

 

Don Farrel played defence for Queen’s Royal College in 1977/78. He saw the Trinity thrashing and recalls a moment of Clauzel magic. “It was the first time I ever saw a player get dribble so bad. The beat cause him to fall with his mouth open and eat some grass.”

 

Rodriguez’s older brother Christian played for St. Mary’s College vs Mucurapo in ’77. When drawn with MSC in the Barclay’s KO tournament, they had not even heard about Mucurapo and no one took them seriously as a “Second Division team.” Saints were second in the league and after 10 minutes on the QRC Ground, found themselves 3-0 down. “I could not believe they were that good!” he exclaims. The game was called off due to rain. Christian explains that regarding the rematch, “Never had we trained harder for a game but we still lost 1-2.”

 

He cites MSC’s 5-2 victory over Trinity as “an unheard-of accomplishment as Second Division schools just never measured up to the First Division back then.” He adds that as League Champs, Trinity was a bit cocky. “So, it was nice to see them get knocked off their perch.”

 

The other man up front was pretty impressive as well, Eric White (Cocorite Utd). He describes the Mucurapo team and playing with Clauzel as “… an awesome experience.

 

“Clauzel and I developed a comradery. We just had to look at each other and we knew exactly where to collect the ball.

 

“He was witty. He could easily go through a defence undetected.” White agrees that Clauzel is one of the top dribblers in the history of TT football. “He just lacked a bit of weight.”

 

White says he broke Luciano Woodley’s record for the most amount of hattricks during the 1978 Season. He believes he scored six but is asking the Press or anyone in TT to help him confirm this. “All I know is I broke his (Woodley’s) record by one.” Press reports on the net indicate that Woodley’s record was six hattricks scored in 1970.

 

White points out that the only reason MSC failed to win the league that year is that he and others were unavailable due to training with the National Youth Team.

 

Although some of the Mucurapo players agree, Foncette has his own perspective. He believes that players training with the NYT was one reason. However, he believes that “ … success went to the head of the Coach, Sharkey Henry.

 

“To me, he didn’t give time to the organization of the team. The St. Mary’s Coach at the time spoke to me and said, ‘Boy if I was Coaching you all, nobody could beat allyuh.’”

 

Foncette explains that Henry was working for WOT Sports, a local store in POS and it took away from his duties. “Carl Ramsey was our Trainer. He spent most of the time with the team. But he was not a footballer. He was a Trainer and a Gymnast. If we had been handled better, we could have won everything.”

 

With the Concacaf Youth Championships in Honduras later that year, Trials were held in POS. Conspicuous by his absence was Ian Clauzel. The public surmised that the nation’s best player was being maligned for no other reason than his hairstyle.

 

He muses, “At school I was and still am a Rastafarian. This was new to the system.” He concludes that he was discriminated against for this reason. “But I was doing what I wanted to these guys (the footballers on the field).

 

Clauzel says that the Youth Coach, Roderick Warner, was interviewed on TV as to his absence and replied, “I was too untidy to be on the National team.” He adds, “But everything I was doing was for the (Mucurapo) players and the school. I wasn’t bothered by that.”

 

The TTFA made it clear that he was to be on the NT. The staff immediately resigned.

 

With Winston Phillips and Philbert Prince replacing the Coaching Staff, the team went to Honduras with Clauzel in tow. They lost to the US and beat Puerto Rico to make it to the Second Round. Grouped with Canada, the US and hosts, Honduras, TT’s only victory was a 3-1 win over the US.

 

The man the Coaching staff did not want at the National Trials, won the award for the Most Outstanding and Disciplined player in all of Concacaf. As Graeme puts it, “In 1977 and ’78 he was that good and then some.”

 

The Dread Dribbler says, “But that wasn’t important to me. I was bringing people together from Cocorite, Carenage, Belmont … . They would come out to support. But not really me alone. It’s a team I was playing with.”

 

He adds that he was drug tested after every match. “They were supposed to pick two players at random after every game. But somehow, they picked me every time,” he laughs.

 

He points out that “Dubisson actually made the Youth Team before me but they did not take him to Honduras. Maybe they did not want three or four Mucurapo players on the team,”

 

Vincent is certain that they didn’t want too many MSC players. He says that in addition to Clauzel being a player with “skill well beyond his years. He would take on a Defence and destroy you at any level.” He adds, “He was the most humble of individuals, articulate and soft spoken and had a great passion for Mucurapo.

 

“He was conscious of his Afro centric being and like some others on the team gravitated towards the Rastafarian movement. … We were not accepted because of our beliefs.”

 

Vincent believes that because of this and that “We were kinda rebellious – not in a negative way but against the norm and from the underprivileged part of TT and then you had the Corneals and the Colleges – we were shunned upon. We had to fight against it”

 

Nine Mucurapo players were called up for National Youth Training at King George V Park. Vincent say, “People were saying just send MSC to the Concacaf Championships. He recounts that they started asking players where they were from. “When they realized there were nine of us, they said ‘No, we can’t have that.’”

 

Although they questioned this, “… no answer was really given.”

 

He alleges, “Even (Clive) Pantin (the Fatima Principal) as against us because of our greatness.” Vincent explains, that it was the norm for MSC to use the Fatima Grounds for training. “We used to go through Fatima all the time. … He would see us on the grounds and call the Principal and tell her we were playing cards and gambling. It was not true. We were just very close, we did everything together.”

 

Their Principal, Mrs. Annette Wiltshire, explained that because they were from the underprivileged class, discrimination would be something that they would have to confront and overcome.

 

White was the only other MSC player besides Clauzel to tour Honduras. However, both he and Vincent make it clear, “There should have been more Mucurapo players on that team.”

 

Bacchus disagrees, he does not believe that there was any bias towards Mucurapo. He explains that 50 players from around the country were called for trials and every month ten would be dropped. “Because of their performance in the College’s League, Garnet Craig, Anton Corneal and Moose were brought into the team. This was two to three weeks before the tour. No one told the Coaches, they just showed up. (The Coaching Staff) already had a set team.” Thus, as a result of this, Warner and his men felt they had no option but to walk away.

 

Joseph, however, believes there was certainly a bias towards MSC. He explains that many people were used to seeing the prestige schools. “And then Mucurapo. Who dem?

 

“In 1978 there was no doubt that Mucurapo got shafted.”

 

Foncette believes he was one of the shafted ones. Of the nine called to National training, he did not make the cut. “I am a very direct fellah. And if you ask me, there was not a better Youth Goalkeeper in the country than me at that time.”

 

Clauzel may have been the star and the centre of the media hype but Mucurapo was more than a one man show. Up front with the Dread Dribbler, were Eric “Old Man” White and Wendell “Tractor” Belgrave. The Jewel in the Crown, however, was midfielder Emmerson Dubisson.

 

Graeme Rodriguez, offers his opinion, “In that ‘77/’78 Mucurapo team, Clauzel, Dubisson and Eric White were the three stars. Each were excellent but played different positions. Eric White was more of a traditional winger with skill and speed. Dubisson was the General. He played Central Midfield and was a very creative player. He took over the game and really made his side click. … Eric was fast, intelligent and skillful, Dubisson was a beast on the ball, very hardworking and creative. The complimented each other well.

 

Former TT Goalkeeper Earl Spider-Man Carter (New York Cosmos), raves about Dubisson, who he believes was even better than Clauzel. “He “was the #9 who was the main piece of the puzzle for Clauzel. Emmerson was the workhorse and 90 percent of the goals that Clauzel scored were received from the #9.”

 

Regarding Dubisson, Carter expounds, “I have never seen anyone run with the ball close to their feet at top speed like that through the midfield except Warren Archibald. … It was beautiful to see.”

 

When Vincent is asked about Dubisson, within seconds he bawls, “Oh Lord!! Meh pores raising!!” He continues, “Emma was one of the greats to pass through TT football. He was better than Clauzel. He could dribble. He had a command of the field. He could play Link or Forward. He could fall back in defence and direct. … We were a symphony and he was the Conductor.”

 

He explains that Dubisson was precise in his distribution. “You had to do no more work but just to score.”

 

Farrel spews about MSC and its players, “The Mucurapo team of ’78 was one of the most heralded teams in College’s football where almost all football lovers knew the entire starting eleven for the team from Foncette to Clauzel up front.

 

“What added great interest also was that Clauzel was really the first Rasta Superstar footballer in TT. However, without Dubisson there would be no Clauzel because he was the mastermind behind the team. He was also a tall player who had defying ball control.”

 

Foncette describes Dubisson as “… a phenomenal player. If he had been handled better, he could have been one of the great ones. He could score goals with either foot. … If he had been in Brazil, he would have played for the Brazilian National Team. Honest to God!”

 

Foncette adds that Dubisson could run with the ball with either foot. “He could protect the ball. He was strong. Nobody could move him off the ball. He was creative but not selfish. Emma could move his upper body and shake.”

 

He explains how Clauzel and White complimented each other, “Eric was equally as dangerous as Clauzel but he had a different skillset. White could shoot with the right or left. He had speed. He had a shot. He could shoot from anywhere – outside the area or dribble in.

 

“Clauzel had a parrot foot. He could cut, cut and cut. And he could do it real good.”

 

Gittens speaks about his teammates, “Emmerson was the most gifted footballer I have ever had the pleasure of playing with. He was what I would describe as the Engine of the MSC ’77/’78 team both in attack and in defense. Like Clauzel and White, he was one of the main reasons for the success of MSC. … Emma was able to see the whole football field so he was able to distribute the ball into open space and read where the danger was. And last but not least, he was a very fit player …” supporting both defence and offence.

 

“Unlike Clauzel, Eric White had an outspoken personality and he had great dribbling skills and the knack for scoring goals. A very confident person. I would add that unlike Clauzel, Eric would tell you to your face that he was good and he was coming to dribble past you. No one had more confidence taking on Defenders like Eric, Emma and Clauzel. I don’t think that without Eric, MSC would have been so successful during those years.”

 

Gittens conclude, “I was so blessed to be a supporting player on the MSC team. So many gifted players to play with and I must add to be the Captain of that team was an honour.”

 

Vincent in reminiscing about White recalls the away game to QRC in 1978. “Eric White was a phenomenal player. He could beat you on a dime. He was tricky with the ball. He could kick good corners. He was the first to take a penalty. The Goalkeeper cah touch it.

“We called him Old Man because of his demeanor. He was a throwback. Clauzel would have his socks down to his ankles. Eric would have his pulled up above his knees, his shirt tucked into his pants. He was about business. His hair would be brushed back

“I remember against QRC on their grounds, it was as if Ian realized Eric was in form, he would let him have the ball. And that day it was like he had the spirit in him.”

“The school Principal, Mrs. Wiltshire, wanted us to do well against the prestige colleges. She realized that although everybody wasn't an academic there were other ways to succeed and put Mucurapo on the map.”

 

Vincent continues, “She was always in the dressing room. She cut a piece of Bristol board and put the number five on it. She gave each player one to put in his sock. She said that after the match, we were to give it to the opposing player. The Ref was a priest, a white guy, he was strict. He never gave calls in our favor. Every tackle was our fault. We were on our best behavior. We had to play the perfect game.

 

“Eric single handedly demolished QRC. It was then people started taking notice of him. He had a hole in his heart. He was protected. If anybody run up on him that would be a problem {for them}.”

 

When asked about the QRC encounter, White bemoans, “I wish I could go back in time and remember it for you.” He does however, recall, “I had an unbelievable game. I went past two men. I went straight across the goal and drove back the ball to the last post. The crowd bawl!”

 

He reminisces about his teammates., “There was a strong feeling of togetherness, comradery. It was a great time. We did everything together on and off the field.

 

“Emmerson Dubisson, was an exceptional player. He was very intelligent. He had a great awareness of the game itself. Glenroy Mackenzie was a worker in the midfield. Kenneth was like a big brother. You could turn to him to share your grievances. Novelle, our Captain, was a very intelligent player. If there was a fault, he would make up for it. He had an understanding of the game. He could analyze it and make decisions. He would put himself out there for the team. He did what he had to for Mucurapo to succeed.

“Tractor Belgrave was a hard worker. He didn’t have the ability like me or Clauzel. He could run with the ball and support us well. He excelled as a player for Superstar Rangers.”

 

Regarding Belgrave, Clauzel explains, “Wendell was a strong, powerful player. He loved to run. He would run into anybody. We called him ‘the Tractor’ because a tractor can move anything in front of it.  I moved around them. He moved through them.”

 

Post Mucurapo, the Dread Dribbler, had a stint with Aviation Services Ltd. (ASL). Not able to constantly crack the First Team, he moved on to ECM Motown and later Superstar Rangers. Whilst still at highschool he was selected for the Caribbean All Stars vs the New York Cosmos. He was later asked by Sesame Street to do a skit in MSC’s hallway, raising a ball while people counted in Spanish.

 

Sadly and frustratingly, Clauzel and Dubisson slowly faded away from the national football landscape.

 

Clauzel cited his frustration at not  always cracking the starting lineup despite having no problem against the nation’s best defenders.

 

“I always trained like a professional. My equilibrium was flowing with football.” He emphasizes “My standard was just as high as the other players. … When I was at ASL, I was never nervous. I never backed down.”

 

He was not going to allow the pettiness of the establishment denying him a national call up to have an effect on him. His priority was to play the game.

 

Did it hurt to know that he had such ability and have to watch the National Team from the stands?

 

“Of course! Especially when I was watching players with less skill than me.”

 

He bemoans that this was nothing new. “Since my youth in TT this is what happens. It’s who you know and all kinda crap. I never take them on. I thought of looking for a job because I had no future in the game. Of course it hurt but it was beyond my control.”

 

After leaving ASL and going to ECM Motown, he says discrimination continued to follow him.

ECM said they would pay 18 players. “They told me I was player #19.”

 

In frustration, Clauzel then moved on to Superstar Rangers. “I never got called up to the National Team. I don’t know …it’s like these people had their own philosophy. I was fed up with the discrimination.”

 

Trying his luck with Super Star Rangers, he lasted just one season as he tore his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). Citing no support from Rangers on this matter and unable to play, he walked away. He basically played no football from 1984-1988. Then amazingly, the man who despite his seemingly unparalleled skill and flair could not get a national call up, was summoned by the Strike Squad in 1989 after four years of inactivity. “I was told they needed a dribbler. Maybe I was the only option.”

 

He explained that he could not due to his injury. He was referred to a Specialist via the Strike Squad and had “experimental surgery.” He admits that perhaps he should have had an additional surgery and that he did rush his rehabilitation a bit.

 

He joined Caledonia, spending one season. “But it was the same nonsense. I wasn’t getting paid. TT is trouble you know.”

 

Disenchanted and with his knee still giving problems, the Dread Dribbler walked away from the game in 1991.

 

Looking back, does he have any regrets? Is there anything he would have done differently?

 

“Not really. Every man decides his own destiny. I lived my life. I was successful. I have four children. I like the man I am today.”

 

Dubisson’s demise was even more frustrating than that of Clauzel’s. He was dropped from the Youth Team just as Clauzel was brought in. Those around him believe he had a nervous breakdown due to his inability to crack the ASL lineup and not being called to the National Senior Team.

 

Spider-Man Carter, recalls, “Emma was on the (ASL) B Team and Evan Friday who had played for Carenage Utd. In the early 70s was on the A Team but he had lost his touch. Emma saw this and took it personally. At one point he was so fed up, he went to (Arthur) Suite (the ASL Owner) and said ‘I will play for no salary, I just want to play. But they ignored {him}.”

 

Carter continues, “One day He showed up at training with a Bible in his hand. I pointed this out to start Stewart Charles Fevrier but I pointed it out to the wrong man. Stuart just waved it off. I should have gone to the higher authorities and say look somebody should help him.

 

“I was in a similar situation around 1976. People thought I was going mad. I was in frustration. I nearly lick down the Club Coach in Suriname with two big stone.” Carter explains, the President of Concacaf was hoping to refer him to a Dutch club but needed him to lose weight and improve his form.

“I used to be running and crying period people thought I was training but I wasn't really training. I was frustrated. I knew I was good and I wanted to get out of TT but I didn't know how to do it. What saved me was I got a contract with TECSA in 1978.”

 

He emphasizes, “People should have tried to rescue Emma. He got a contract with ECM Motown but it did not pan out. He had the talent but his brain wasn’t there. Sometimes he would pass the ball, sometimes he wouldn’t. Sometimes he would run with the ball, sometimes he wouldn’t.”

 

Carter says, “In 1987 I saw him in POS. I was walking with Keith Smith. He looked out of sorts. I gave him twenty dollars. He always had a nice smile on his face and he said ‘Carter boy. Thanks Carter.’ And he walked off. Boy, my heart was full.” 

 

White says, “ Emerson Dubisson was an exceptional player. He was very intelligent. He had a great awareness of the game itself. It was hard that he had to go that way. He lost his mind. It stemmed from family issues. He didn’t always have the backing of his family. He was a sort of a loner. If he had a hard day, he had no one to go home to. He had no support.  He would hang around with his cousins.”

 

White continues, “While at ASL he had lots of ability but he wasn’t being chosen in preference to a particular individual, he lost it right there.” White adds, “I tried to counsel him … to get him to come to Cocorite United but he didn’t want to.”

 

Gittens says that Dubisson is doing much better these days.

 

Vincent, speaks about the comradery and quality of MSC, “In my opinion the ’77 team was better than the ’78 team. We had Allan Peru Anderson. “ Anderson actually left before the season started and went to John D. “No one could score on us.”

 

He continues, “Glenroy McKenzie was in the midfield. He was a workhorse. We also had Philip Thomas and Garth Wilson. We learnt our football before coming to Mucurapo in areas such as Woodbrook, Gonazlez, Diego Martin, etc.”

 

He points out, “The 1978 team could not have had the success they had without the midfield of McKenzie, Thomas and Dubisson. Phillip Thomas was very underrated. Novelle Gittens was a mainstay in the Defence, you couldn’t dribble him.”

 

Vincent point out Gittens as “ … an astute leader. Many of the team were a bit rough. Novelle was clean cut. He fit the part. Even to this day we call him Skip.”

 

He  continues, “Skip knew our individual traits, … that is why he was Captain. Moose would play with his socks down. If he had them up, he would say, ‘Moose pull your socks down.’ He knew Eric (White) liked potato.” He would ask, ‘Old Man, yuh eat your potato?’”

 

Vincent points out the thrashing of Trinity in 1977. The assembled at the school prior to the match, both lunch and transportation had already been organized for the players.

 

However, Gittens looked around and kept saying to Vincent, “’Something not right. Something not right.” He disappeared on his bike. Upon his return, he  decided that the team would walk and not use the cars provided. “We took the canal next to Fatima and walked all the way to St. Mary’s Grounds. He knew that with the teachers we would be under watchful eyes. He gave me and Clauzel a joint to smoke.”

 

When the teachers arrived and saw the players in the Dressing Room, “ … they said ‘Damn!’ Skip said it would be alright. We were rebels but we did not go overboard.”

 

The Mucurapo players were a close-knit group, constantly together on and off the field. Vincent, says that he, Thomas and Dubisson  were boyhood friends from Diego Martin and were close. Dubisson was unavailable for a game vs St. Augustine due to National Youth Practice but decided to play for MSC instead. “Our Coach, Carl Ramsey was an Army man and he was very strict about times. Emma went to use the washroom when he wasn’t on the bus, he said ‘Let’s leave without him.’”

 

Vincent, recounts, “As the bus hit Mucurapo Road, Phillip Thomas and I said we were not going if Emma wasn’t. By the time the bus hit the Holiday Inn, all the players said they were not going. When Skip came to find us, we were smoking a joint.” They were quickly hurried on to the bus.

 

The players acknowledge that a contributor to their success was their Principal, Mrs. Annette Wiltshire. White says “She was there for us. She was an inspiration in the Dressing Room. She was a leader amongst us. She lifted our spirits. It was the way she dealt with us. She knew things a Principal mightn’t know, for example, she would call you by your first and last name.

 

“Sometimes we were miserable. She would chat with you, call in your parents. She would make things happen for you. The day before a game we would meet up at her house. We would discuss pent up feelings and try to work it out.”

 

Clauzel, White and Dubisson would have a sojourn in Arthur Suite’s Professional Soccer League (PSL) as well as Club football with the TTFA. Today, outside of his job as a Dietary Supervisor at the St. Anne’s Hospital, the Dread Dribbler runs the Ian Clauzel Football Academy at the Queen’s Park Savannah opposite Jerningham Avenue.

 

Gittens, in addition to being a fair cricketer and footballer was an even better Hockey player and represented TT for eleven years, twice being nominated for the WITCO Sportsman of the Year during the 1980s. Winston Lane would also represent TT in Hockey.

 

Foncette was the Custodian for Essex, Cocorite and Police during his career. He is now the Police GK Coach and has also had held the same position with the Women’s Sr and U-17 teams.

 

Vincent would go on to play Semi Pro for Evertons in Long Island, USA. Randy Glasgow would represent TT in Cricket and become a Boxing Promoter of note.

 

In Foncette’s opinion, this was an era where many of the school teams were “well rounded.” He adds, “Fatima had the Corneal brothers, Anton and Vernon. CIC had the Rodriguez brothers. John D had Chris Pugh, Hammond Lucas, “Peru” Anderson and many others.” There was stiff competition all around.”

 

 

That the level of skill displayed by Mucurapo at the time “ … was beyond my comprehension. That kind of football was not properly appreciated.”

 

He explains that Small Goal Football  “ … was big in those days.” And Clauzel and White were legends at it. “The team could play in pockets. Mucurapo was a knock it team. We brought that. That’s the kind of football the fans want TT to play right now.”

 

He believes the “only weak link” on the team were the Wing Backs who played simple and steady not possessing the flair of the Forwards and Midfield.

 

Clauzel, reminiscing on his alma mater and his teammates, says, “Emma and Eric were two brilliant players. I love and admire them both. They are two of the best players I ever played alongside. We all had a passion for the game but it was never about rivalry.

 

“One thing I remember about Emma was that anytime he collected a ball, he used to start smiling. Maybe that was his comfort zone. He was really a brilliant player.”

 

Regarding White, “ … he was a very smart and technical player. He and I were pure trouble around any Defence because we were never in one place at any time. It was always play and move. He would run with ball, I would run with the ball just getting myself into the areas of anticipation and vice versa. It was an honour to play with such brilliant players. They; the rest of the team; the Technical Staff; the Principal, the Vice Principal and all the supporters – God bless.”

 

 

There is an annual get together every Thursday before the Carnival Weekend as the ex Mucurapo and John D players go at it one more time – even in their elder years.

 

It has been more than four decades but speak to any fan of that era and bring up the names Clauzel, White and Dubisson and you are sure to evoke a passion and memories of a time in TT Football that has now become lore.

 

Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive, 1978: Glennon Foncette (goalkeeper); Novell Gittens (skipper); Glenroy McKenzie; Kenneth Vincent; Emmerson Dubisson; Philip Thomas (deceased); Randy Glasgow; Ian Clauzel; Eric White; Wendell "Tractor" Belgrave (deceased); Jr. Jones; Garth Wilson; Winston Lane, Anthony Moore and Curtis Riley.

"There were over twenty five thousand people there. I remember

thinking what I go do if we had drawn and I had to play over the game.” Mucurapo GK, Glenon Foncette, describing the N. Zone Final vs John D

"If he had been in Brazil, he would have played for the Brazilian National Team. Honest to God!”... Mucurapo GK Foncette on teammate, Emmerson Dubisson.

" ... he was a very smart and technical player. He and I were pure trouble around any Defence because we were never in one place at any time." Ian Clauzel discussing his strike partnership with Eric White.

Ian Clauzel

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