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Cayman beats Jamaica – The Roar heard around West Bay

Sports 07 Mar, 2024 Follow News

Cayman beats Jamaica – The Roar heard around West Bay

The Cayman Islands Senior National Team competing in the 1994 Shell Caribbean Cup Qualifying Zone

Wednesday, March 6, 2024 will come and go like any other weekday. Children will go to school, mothers and fathers will go to work – a normal Wednesday for most. But 30 years ago, on this very date, a legendary and truly remarkable sporting event occurred. An event that will forever be embedded in the minds and hearts of those spectators present at the Ed Bush Sports Field in West Bay that night, or those tuning in to Radio Cayman and every Caymanian sports enthusiast.

It was 9:30 p.m. and the Cayman Islands Senior National Football Team had just beaten mighty Jamaica 3-2 in the 1994 Shell Caribbean Cup Qualifying Zone to win the group and advance to the Finals in Trinidad.

Before we get ahead of ourselves and reminisce about the game, a brief history lesson is needed.

Following a spattering of good results and performances during the late 1980s and early 1990s under Winston Chung and then Ed Wilson, most notably a 2-2 draw with the touring Brazilian U-21 Olympic Team boasting a young Bebeto and others, a very unfortunate 2-0 defeat to Santos FC from Brazil complete with World Cup superstar Socrates, a draw with Southampton FC and Norwich FC from England and a draw with Borussia Dortmund from Germany, the Cayman Islands National Football Team had now reached the pinnacle of Caribbean football – a final showdown with the mighty Jamaicans.

After all, this was the National Team that Winston Chung had built and it was his dream to one day conquer the Caribbean beginning with Jamaica. Veteran players from the 1980s mixed with youngsters from the victorious Miami Classic Youth Tournament campaigns – the Cayman team was complete and ready.

For head coach Ken Fogarty and Assistant Coach Joscelyn Morgan, who had assumed the reigns earlier in the year, it was a tweak here, a tweak there and the team was ready – all the pieces were in place. Bring on the Jamaicans.

I distinctly remember the journey that evening from the Island House guest house on West Church Street where we stayed in West Bay to Rev. Blackman Road, to Stadium Drive and on to the Ed Bush Sports Field. Both sides of Stadium Drive and portions of Rev. Blackman Road were lined with cars and as we approached the stadium, an unusual “buzzing” noise got increasingly louder.

As we pulled up to the rear of the grandstand and the doors of the bus swung open, the buzzing noise transformed into a deafening roar from the crowd as we disembarked and headed to the dressing room.

Red and blue flags and banners hung everywhere. For once, the famous Jamaican black, green and gold was shrouded in a sea of red, blue and white.

With the Wight brothers – David and Christopher – darting to and fro on the full to capacity main stand holding aloft the Cayman flag all the while ignoring the taunts of the Jamaican faithful, to Brent McLean complete with painted face incessantly beating a small drum, to the temporary broadcast booth erected across the field on the ‘pond side’ complete with “legends of the game” Lennie Hew and Renard Moxam, who would be providing play-by-play commentary for radio listeners island wide – the setting was complete.

Cayman had disposed of St. Maarten and the British Virgin Islands earlier in the group as had Jamaica. This clash would settle the group and the winners would book their passage to Trinidad.

With all the tension and excitement during the game, to me the actual game itself was mostly a blur but I vividly remember the three goals we scored and the heroics of our goalkeeper Cecil Walton.

To relive portions of this special event, we need to highlight certain sections from the article that appeared in the Caymanian Compass on Tuesday, March 8, 1994 written by then sports writer Paul Drury who splashed the headline “Cayman beats Jamaica!” across the back page.

The article began, “Cayman’s National Soccer Team made history Sunday beating Jamaica for the first time ever in senior competition. And what a spectacle it was!”

He continued, “This fabulous victory in front of a capacity crowd in the magnificent new Ed Bush Soccer Stadium marks a new era for Cayman soccer. It will go down in the annals of Cayman sports as one of the greatest nights ever.

Cayman’s captain and twin goal scoring hero of the night, Lee Ramoon, was moved to shed tears of happiness and relief afterwards, and said emotionally, “We created history tonight!”

With the Shell Caribbean Cup Qualifying Zone trophy in his hands, he cried gleefully over the loudspeaker system, “This is for you Cayman! This is for you.”

Coach Ken Fogarty was “delighted” at this success and conceded “there’ll be no training tomorrow!” He added enthusiastically “it’s all down to the players and the supporters – we’ve never had support like this. We want to thank them, they were fantastic.”

Playing a part in the game and listening to the supporters relive certain events during the game, from all accounts, it was a very, very exciting game.

Cayman went ahead in the eighth minute thanks to a wonderful Lee Ramoon goal only to see Jamaica draw level in the 25th minute through Easton Smith. Lee grabbed his second with a ubiquitous chip over Jamaican goalkeeper Warren Barrett just before half-time to make it 2-1 and Carlos Welcome added a third early in the second half as he rose to power home an inviting cross from Rohan Clarke. Jamaica scored their second in the 80th minute off the boots of Donald Hewitt and the pressure was on.

Cayman’s goalkeeper on the night, Cecil “CI” Walton, had a remarkable game between the posts. He was truly outstanding as he managed to stop everything that was thrown at him and in my opinion, a performance like that has never been equalled by a Caymanian goalkeeper. He deservedly won the “Man of the Match” award following the game.

We held on for the last 10 minutes or so and at the sound of the final whistle, we had finally achieved what some said could never be done by a team from Cayman – we had beaten Jamaica at the senior level.

Of course, there are those detractors who claim that it wasn’t a ‘great’ Jamaican team but with the likes of Warren Barrett, Hector Wright, Linval Webb, Easton Smith, Devon Ricketts, Altimonte Butler, Donald Hewitt, Durrent Brown and Clive Smith, this was the best team Jamaica had and some of those players on that field that night, would go on to play a key role in Jamaica’s journey to and participation in the FIFA World Cup Finals in France in 1998.

The then Sports Editor Guy Harrison from the Compass summed the night up best for the supporters when he wrote, “I’ve heard many knocks against Caymanians for not supporting their football team. But Cayman showed up in force with flags and painted faces. The fans gave meaning to the home field advantage and the value of their support had no small part in the inspired play of Cayman. Yes, Cayman stood proud Sunday night like never before.”

So, for those of you who were there or who had their radios tuned in to Radio Cayman that night, if you come across one of the Cayman players, coaches or staff members this week who were on the field or on the sidelines that night, just tell them, “We will always remember what you achieved and what you were a part of. Thank you.”

Cayman’s starting team that night was Cecil ‘CI’ Walton, Paul ‘Cap’ McField, Richard ‘Farmer’ Hew, Sylvester ‘Pongo’ Coleman, Noel Williams, Greg ‘Hammer’ Ebanks, Neil Murray, Anthony ‘Anti’ Ramoon, Rohan ‘Scratch-eye’ Clarke, Carlos ‘J’can’ Welcome and Lee ‘Granny’ Ramoon. Substitutes and squad members were Gary ‘Wiz’ Whittaker, Lloyd ‘Stoka’ Ramon, Ricky ‘Seven’ Seymour, Arden ‘Cheeky’

Rivers, Floyd ‘Jacko’ Webb, Henry Ebanks, the late Gladstone ‘Gladdy’ Brown, Ivan ‘Rockman’ Kelly, Clay ‘Tupac’ Coleman, Winston ‘Henny Dog’ Hurlston, Alton Davis, Kim ‘Kimo’ Samuels, Ercley ‘Kobe’ Bodden and Clifton ‘Bobo’ Parsons. Coaches were Ken Fogarty and Joscelyn ‘Bugs’ Morgan and Team Manager was Kennedy Kelly.

At the end of his article 30 years ago, Paul Drury wrote, “To see Lee’s face at the end made one realize why sport can be such an integral and crucial part of life for so many. It gives you something to get excited about, something to strive for. It’s capable of taking you higher than any drug. The passion it instigates deep within is almost indescribable. Sport is simply a metaphor for life, and still one of the most irresistible catalysts known to man. It is a psychological magnet for anyone who wishes to take life to a higher level.”

We will never forget what happened on the night of March 6, 1994.


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