Liverpool FC, led by tempestuous the Stan Collymore—an English striker with a Barbadian parent—were crowned the new British Airways Tobago Legends Football Challenge champions this evening in an exciting finale to the six-a-side competition at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet.
But they had to beat stiff local competition along with way as the likes of Dwight Yorke, Russell Latapy and Dennis Lawrence starred today.
Here is a recap of today’s action:
Arsenal 3 (Omer Riza 2, Luis Boa Morte), Tottenham Hotspur 1 (Andy Sinton)
Arsenal looked to have squeezed into the knockout round here. Omer Riza starts the ball rolling on day two with a successful penalty kick. And, although Spurs equalise immediately through Andy Sinton, Arsenal grab victory through another Riza item and a strike from outside the area by Luis Boa Morte.
Arsenal looked suspiciously happy to run down the clock at the end. They are level on four points with Tottenham but have the advantage on superior goal differential.
Manchester United 3 (Bojan Djordic 2, Dwight Yorke), Aston Villa 2 (Darren Byfield 2)
Dwight Yorke scored his first goal of the competition. Don’t expect Aston Villa fans to applaud though.
An indication of the inherent competitive streak in these retired athletes was visible when Aston Villa attacker Darren Byfield sent West Indies cricket legend Brian Lara stumbling off the field with a strong shoulder challenge.
Byfield struck twice too but could not keep up Manchester who advanced with a Bojan Djordic double and a solitary item from Yorke.
Caribbean All Stars 5 (Russell Latapy 2, Dennis Lawrence 2, Stern John pen), Chelsea 0
The Caribbean All Stars will take some beating. Liverpool star Stan Collymore moaned that the Caribbean team tends to have younger players than most, so he might not be happy to see India-based professional Cornell Glen slot in today as replacement for the injured Deon Burton.
The Chelsea pensioners never stood a chance. Stern John won a penalty from Chelsea guest goalkeeper Richard Goddard, a former Trinidad and Tobago national youth team player, and converted himself.
Then Dennis Lawrence and Russell Latapy took over with some superb finishes.
Latapy’s two goals were carbon copies, scrumptious finishes into the top right hand corner from just outside the area. Poor Goddard looked like a cone.
Liverpool 6 (Marvin Andrews 2, Stan Collymore 2, Vlad Smicer, Bjorn Kvarme), PFA All Stars 2 (Michael Mols 2)
It is safe to say that Shaka Hislop’s record against Liverpool was not improved today. Stan Collymore scored one sensational strike from distance but the Red did most of their damage with good ball movement and sharp finishing inside the penalty area.
Even Marvin Andrews grabbed a double!
Tobago Football Legends Semifinals
Caribbean All Stars 5 (Cornell Glen 2, Russell Latapy 2, Paul Hall), Manchester United 4 (Dwight Yorke 2, Bojan Djordic 2)
Manchester United looked home and dry at one stage as they lead at 3-1 and then 4-2 thanks to two goals apiece from Dwight Yorke and Bojan Djordic. But Yorke’s old pal, Russell Latapy, pulled the Caribbean team level with a double.
The Little Magician’s second saw him outfox the goalkeeper with barely an inch to manoeuvre on the touchline before falling into the goal with the ball as Yorke made a vain effort to knock him over. But Glen’s fresher legs made the difference as he stole possession from Quentin Fortune before burying the winner.
Liverpool 3 (Marvin Andrews 2, Vladimir Smicer), Arsenal 2 (Ian Selley 2)
Arsenal were very much the underdogs here but led twice through Ian Selley. Selley’s second was especially memorable as it crashed in off the underside of the bar from difference.
But Liverpool, with Patrick Berger pulling the strings, ensured a repeat of the 2014 Legends final with Vladimir Smicer strike and two close range finishes from Marvin Andrews.
Tobago Legends Football Challenge final
Liverpool FC 3 (Patrick Berger 2, Stan Collymore), Caribbean All Stars 1 (Stern John)
If there was any doubt as what this title meant to the teams, Vladimir Smicer, a former Champions League winner, whipped out a Liverpool flag to celebrate after the final whistle. Too bad Brendon Rodgers couldn’t fly in to take credit!
That was the good side of the emotions on show.
On the flip side, ex-Liverpool bad boy Stan Collymore had to be parted from Caribbean All Stars defender Marcus Gayle. And Dennis Lawrence was held back by former international teammate Marvin Andrews as he remonstrated with Liverpool defender Stephane Henchoz in the aftermath of the match.
When there is a trophy at stake, even in a hyped up fete match, instincts kick in.
Collymore took exception from Gayle’s close marking in the first half and grabbed him by the shirt. And Gayle was not backing down.
There were not enough security guards on duty if the two giant ex-Premiership players—born to Barbadian and Jamaican parents respectively—kicked off. But, thankfully, they were quickly pulled apart.
Clayton Ince, former Crewe Alexandra and 2006 World Cup squad member, made a fine save to keep out Smicer. But Liverpool would not be denied as Patrick Berger put the “Reds” ahead with an angled thunderbolt from distance.
Berger doubled the advantage on the break after a through ball from Smicer as Liverpool defended deep and tried to frustrate the Caribbean team.
Stern John, Trinidad and Tobago’s record goal scorer, pulled a goal back from nothing on the turn while being wrestled to the ground by Henchoz. Within seconds, Collymore replied as he caught Ince napping with a shot that squirmed beneath him.
Liverpool were prepared to do whatever it took to hold on to the result. And trouble looked to be looming when Henchoz bundled over Paul Hall and the ex-Jamaica 1998 World Cup player threw an elbow in retaliation.
Atkinson could not wait to blow the final whistle. And the Legends Football Challenge had a new champion club.
(Updated squad lists)
Arsenal FC: 1.Vince Bartram, 3.Ian Selley, 5.Jimmy Carter, 8.Stefan Schwarz, 4.Chris Whyte, 7.Luis Boa Morte, 2.Omer Riza, 6.Michael Thomas.
Aston Villa: 1.Gavin Ward, 3.Allan Wright, 4.Ugo Ehiogu, 9.Stefan Moore, 7.Mark Walters, 8.Darren Byfield, 10.Darius Vassell.
Guest player: 11.Huey Cadette. Absent: Graham Fenton.
Manchester United FC: 1.Raimond Van der Gouw, 2.Michael Clegg, 9.Dwight Yorke, 7.Quinton Fortune, 11.Bojan Djordic, 10.Brian Lara.
Guest players: 8.Danny Webber, 4.Ben Thornley. Missing: Ronny Johnsen, Louis Saha.
Chelsea FC: 8.Mark Stein, 6.David Lee, 4.Gareth Hall, 9.Sam Parkin, 11.Jody Morris.
Guest players: 2.Cyd Gray, 1.Richard Goddard, 7.Anthony Barness. Absent: Frank Sinclair, Ken Monkou.
Liverpool FC: 1.Tony Warner, 6.Stephane Henchoz, 8.Patrick Berger, 7.Vlad Smicer, 9.Bjorn Kvarme, 10.Stan Collymore.
Guest players: 5.Marvin Andrews, 4.Shonneil McMillan. Absent: Steve Harkness, David Thompson.
PFA All Stars: 1.Shaka Hislop, 9.Michael Gray, 14.Michael Mols, 3.Paul Scharner, 7.Ian Goodison, 10.Matt Jansen, 11.Ricardo Gardner, 17.Pierre Van Hoojidonk.
Caribbean All Stars: 1.Clayton Ince, 2.Paul Hall, 4.Marcus Gayle, 2.Russell Latapy, 8.Dennis Lawrence, 6.Stern John, 5.Fitzroy Simpson.
Guest player: 9.Cornell Glen. Injured: Deon Burton.
Tottenham Hotspur: 1.Radek Cerny, 3.Chris Perry, 10.Paul McVeigh, 4.Mitchell Thomas, 7.Ruel Fox, 8.Andy Sinton.
Guest players: 6.Everton McKein, 9.Devon Leacock. Absent: Neale Fenn, Sean Davis.