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TTFA goes Hart-less: John-Williams sacks Soca Warriors coach at Ruby Tuesdays

Stephen Hart is out.

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) officially sacked its National Senior Football Team head coach this evening, after a meeting at fast food restaurant, Ruby Tuesdays, in Valsayn.

A TTFA release said that president David John-Williams wishes Hart “every success in his future endeavours.” John-Williams vowed to announce a new coach “in the shortest possible time.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Stephen Hart (left) and Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams enjoy each other's company during a press conference at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Port of Spain on 19 May 2016. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Stephen Hart (left) and Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams enjoy each other’s company during a press conference at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Port of Spain on 19 May 2016.
(Courtesy Wired868)

No information was provided on the fate of Hart’s backroom staff, which included assistant coaches Hutson “Barber” Charles, Derek King and goalkeeper coach Michael “Brow” Maurice.

Hart took over the Soca Warriors in mid-2013 and led them to quarterfinal finishes at the 2013 and 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournaments as well as the Hex of the ongoing Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.

However, Trinidad and Tobago’s form dipped considerably in 2016 and his team lost seven of their last 10 outings. At present, the Warriors are at the foot of the Hex with zero points from two games, along with the United States who axed coach Jürgen Klinsmann on Monday.

The decision to fire Hart was made by an ad-hoc committee headed by John-Williams, which is believed to have included technical committee chairman and Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene, technical director Muhammad Isa, Eastern Counties Football Union representative Sherwyn Dyer and vice-president Allan Warner.

According to the TTFA’s constitution, only the board of directors can hire or fire coaches. But the board opted to allow a sub-committee to make the call.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart (right) passes on instructions to left back Aubrey David during 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Honduras in San Pedro Sula on 15 November 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart (right) passes on instructions to left back Aubrey David during 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Honduras in San Pedro Sula on 15 November 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

John-Williams was easily the most influential person in the room, since he appointed Skeene and Isa to their current posts—he also works with Skeene at Pro League level—while Warner campaigned alongside him in his successful bid to be elected football president in November 2015.

Skeene and Isa, incidentally, had already ruled on Hart’s future on Monday when, in a technical committee meeting, they recommended that the board of directors make changes to the technical staff. That initial decision by the technical committee was made without bothering to speak to Hart in person or read his report on the Warriors’ 3-1 World Cup qualifying loss away to Honduras, which had not yet been submitted.

The potential flaw in the technical committee’s verdict—coupled with the backlash from the bizarre resignations of Dr Terence Babwah and Dave Isaacs from the team’s technical staff, might have prompted a stay of execution for Hart—as the board ruled that Hart should have a chance to speak before a decision was made.

But that only bought the beleaguered coach an additional 24 hours.

Incidentally, only seven of the 13 board members turned up to the Wednesday meeting, although the low turnout might have been influenced by the 5.30pm start in the middle of the work week.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president and W Connection owner David John-Williams (left) has a word with Soca Warriors coach Stephen Hart during Pro League action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 4 November 2016. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president and W Connection owner David John-Williams (left) has a word with Soca Warriors coach Stephen Hart during Pro League action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 4 November 2016.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Hart’s exit completes the clear-out of coaches at all significant levels under the new football president.

In under a year, technical director Kendall Walkes, women’s senior coach Randy Waldrum, under-20 coach Derek King and under-17 coach Ken Elie were all replaced. King and Waldrum were both Caribbean champions in their respective categories.

In truth, Hart’s performances fell away drastically since the change in local football presidents.

In the last nine matches before John-Williams replaced Raymond Tim Kee, the Warriors defeated Guatemala (twice), Cuba and Panama, with draws against Mexico (twice), the United States and Nicaragua. While their solitary loss came via kicks from the penalty mark in the Gold Cup quarterfinal contest against Panama.

But, under the new president, the Warriors only managed wins against St Vincent and the Grenadines (twice) and the Dominican Republic in the whole of 2016 with losses to the United States, Costa Rica, Panama, Haiti, Martinique, Peru, Uruguay and China and draws with Guatemala and Grenada.

During that period, Trinidad and Tobago dropped from 49th in FIFA and fourth in CONCACAF to 78th and ninth respectively.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart reacts to the final whistle in the 2016 Copa America play off contest at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium, Panama City on 8 January 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart reacts to the final whistle in the 2016 Copa America play off contest at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium, Panama City on 8 January 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

Hart insisted that the bad run was no more than a dip in form and vowed to turn things around by shaking up his player squad. But John-Williams and his board members were unconvinced. And the former Canada head coach and St Benedict’s College past pupil had to go.

He was told that he was surplus to requirements for the John-Williams-led football body at a popular fast food restaurant.

TTFA press release:

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) and Senior National Men’s Team head coach Stephen Hart have agreed to part ways with immediate effect.

This follows a meeting held this afternoon between Mr Hart and members of the TTFA board of directors.

President David John-Williams, on behalf of the TTFA, thanks Mr Hart for his services over the past three years and wishes him every success in his future endeavours.

Mr John-Williams confirms that the announcement of a new head coach for the TTFA Senior National Men’s Team will be made in the shortest possible time.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (second from right) is helped to the dressing room by defender Yohance Marshall (centre) while captain Kenwyne Jones (right) looks on after 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Honduras in San Pedro Sula on 15 November 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (second from right) is helped to the dressing room by defender Yohance Marshall (centre) while captain Kenwyne Jones (right) looks on after 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Honduras in San Pedro Sula on 15 November 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 15 years experience at several local and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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473 comments

  1. Hannibal Najjar

    To Terry Fenwick I say that he does have a very good record here in T&T, but outside…., very, very, questionable. I do not believe that he can achieve the results with this current Hart-formed team that he was able to show with locally-based Jabloteh and FC Central. The reason is simple – these players are much more liberated, exposed, and better-reasoning than what he was faced with and had control over here in T&T. 80% of this current squad ply their trade in a much more diversified abroad setting and that would undermine his strong-hand approach that worked in a local-alone setting where players’ experiences are confined to the walls of T&T. In addition, club versus country coaching have wavering differences where the needed skills are not easily transferred.

  2. Many club managers would have had a rude awakening when they took over national teams and realised it is not the same thing. You don’t have the players constantly at your disposal since they are with their clubs and you usually have a short time to prepare the national teams for tournaments. I would not have a problem with Terry. He is also likely to be cheaper that a named foreign coach. We also need a disciplinarian.

    • Yes. It is really a symbolic gesture. Wallace had already been replaced by Richard Piper and was already on the way out.
      And none of the assistants had written contracts and just worked match to match at the whim of the president.
      So there you go…

    • But is it true that the president would come during or after training to ask the players about the coach etc. What kinda undermining is that? I think that is unprofessional and disrespectful

  3. Best dey fired de whole team…..steups

  4. T&t only qualify due to jack warner influence those so call players can’t make it to nowhere base on their performance the best coach in football right now will get the same result we are only wasting money on this team where we should b training a youth team for after Russia

  5. Brainless as well. How u cud get continuity if you fire without replacement.

  6. You can’t have eggs and make hot dogs. ……Hart used d players they gave him get better quality players on d team

  7. hahahahah Yeah them really jokey eh. Them really good yes.

  8. Alyuh see when I kneel down and pray to my father God eh things does happen eh, so patiently I will be waiting for my prayers to be answered as usual eh. hahahaha

  9. Let’s wait and see who they appoint as the next coach,

  10. The results in our past 3 games give all of us some concern, but in the past we had worst results and they still keep the coach

  11. And in my view after these 3 years we should be playing a better brand of soccer, i would gladly like the challenge to coach one of our national team in the future

  12. I truly think that our players have a big part to the firing of the coach, yes in regards to the resulte game, these players been together for the past 3 plus years

  13. Debbie Espinal i agree with all that u have said, suffice to say football business is all about Results, and the results for 2016 has not gone TNT way as well as the performances

  14. The problem with T&T football system is we just playing just to say we qualified for a world cup and thats it full stop. you can’t beat teams with that kind of mindset . Other teams go into the world cup to see how far they can advance … the footballers need to dream big the staff need to dream big etc .

  15. Brian Jordan i hear u and i still mourning!! But i want Terry give the man the work!!

  16. Not that I doubt a local could succeed (and I consider Terry a local), but I am of the opinion, we have to look at short, medium and sometimes long term when you make a change like this. Bringing in someone with a track record of success internationally is important. That way we can also assign a couple locals to assist, learn and bring that knowledge transfer and greater expertise to the local game. I hope for all our sakes the new coach is worth all this acrimony and baccanal..

  17. JW want some one he could walk all over I dont think Fenwick will want dat. I could be wrong jus my opinion

  18. Terry dont stand shit and will stand up for his rights

  19. One setta rats already stabbing Hart in the back. Not even a nine day wonder. Like allyuh forget Hart was twice nominated for ConCaCaf coach of the year. Any other Trini ever accomplish that? Steups!! Thank God the man have class something the TTFA will never have.

  20. If Fenwick so great what is he doing coaching a piss meh tail pro league club in TnT and not some hot shot team in Europe or even the MLS. Steups!

    • Your comments shows just how much you know (which isn’t much at all sir) about Fenwick. I’ll let you do your research on that. Fenwick has numerous pro league titles with different clubs. When he was in charge of Central fc he had at least 7 players on the national squad. But hey… Why should we give him a chance entire…

  21. I think the best person for the job is Terry Fenwick. But I don’t think the ttfa would ever admit to that.

  22. Thank you Debbie I thought you would find it hard to resist. I’m not sure where this is coming from but I have noted your multiple negative posts particularly about me. I can’t understand as I was only talking to your son Nicholas the other day and didn’t at all get the impression there was ill feeling.

    • No ill feeling but i am disappointed that you were so quick to dismiss Coach Hart’s achievements and big up yourself after all he did to bring passion back for football in this country something even the Pro League hasn’t been able to accomplish. Maybe it’s personal but not geared towards you. Stephen Hart is my blood and blood thicker than water. Good luck if you get the pick. You will probably suffer the same fate as he and all the others before him did. Anyway i’m done with this subject.

  23. I suspect the new manager has already been selected and contracted. My post is directed at the T&T footballing public who know the politics of our domestic game. Every other coach in T&T has participated in some capacity at National level, APART FROM ME??? One of the most successful coaches in PFL history

    • Lol..give them time..this lot dont want dissention

    • It’s beyond pathetic from selectors past and present that you’ve never got a shot at a national team be it senior or a youth team . Hopefully one day you will get that chance when the selectors look beyond skin colour

    • I avoided that skin colour talk yes Cheyenne..lol

    • Well it’s pretty obvious to be fair

    • Part of what makes Terry so successful is that he’s his own man and won’t tolerate any nonsense… EXACTLY what we need but NOT the kind of Coach this administration can control or manipulate… hopefully one day tho…

    • This has nothing to do with skin color because when they do go outside the individual will most likely look just like Terry .

    • Brian Harry Agree completely. I asked some friends of mine just recently why Fenwick has never been given an opportunity to coach the national team. I was told he did not know how to speak to people. If that is true, I guess our professional footballers need to be coddled. I have listened to his breakdown of the games and he definitely knows what he is talking about. Whether that will translate into success as a coach is another matter but that is a major criterion for being a coach.

    • If he didn’t know how to speak to people, he would not have won as many titles.
      When a coach can win with youths, it shows that he backs himself and his understanding of the game and knows how to develop players. And I remember that season that Jabloteh won the title with a teenaged Khaleem Hyland and Robert Primus in the side.
      Anybody who follows the Pro League knows Fenwick is a top coach.

    • terry is definitely s good coach

    • I don’t think it is self praise on the
      part of Terry Fenwick …..I think he stood up for himself since none of his…fans wanted to…..And it took someone like me ….whom he knows is not a “bosom pal” to speak up ….cause let’s face it…. he is a Warrior. I maintain there are locals who can do this job right here right now and Terry Fenwick and Stuart Charles are two. We gave Jack his jacket and not a dog barked. Well give Terry he T shirt .

    • Since when Fenwick became a local and ppl still think Hart from fareign. We real jokey.

    • So give Fenwick the wuk and done the story. Onwards to Russia Terry.

    • Opinions are posted here on Wired as proclamations by all and sundry. By the power invested in me I proclaim Terry Fenwick and Stuart Charles as locals. I further proclaim as locals Stephen Hart , Russell Latapy, Dennis Lawrence and David Nakhid are locals all of whom in my mi…nute view are capable technicians.

    • Debbie Espinal For the record and on the record Debbie, on several occasions I have praised Stephens work during difficult times and circumstances. He has without doubt lifted T&T football out of the grave administrators have been preparing. I am appalled at the way the TTFA have tried to tarnish Stephens management and name while trying to oust him from his job.
      He has not deserved the disgraceful way they have terminated his term as head coach.

      I understand the TTFA are negotiating with a Brazilian called Tito for the job, a predictable move given the Presidents history and comfort zone in Brazil. The good work Stephen has delivered will be decimated in 6 months because of the huge difference in culture and technical abilities here in comparison to Central and South America.

    • Debs, I’m kinda disappointed in your response. The deed’s done, no going back. Lets keep the pressure on, whoever is the manager, but Terry does seem to have a good track record

  24. Thanks for your support Jamaal and Kelvin, I think we’ve had this discussion before, the T&T senior National team must be about winning and success, development is about the youth teams. I know the nature and complexities of T&T football as I have rolled with the punches where others have gone home. I am not from this culture and recognize the disciplines necessary to ensure success for T&T. I Am the only local coach capable of securing that success. In my 17 years here in Trinidad I know the players better than they know themselves. While World Cup football seems distant, knowledge, tactics and motivation are key to the future. I see and work on the positives of T&T while minimizing deficiencies. We are not South or Central American, we do not have their typical traits we have other assets but not typical of the region.

  25. Hahahaha… I could hear dem in the stands now
    “… da man still startin Jones?? Ruby Tuesday fuh he yes!!…”

  26. Do you realize that TT football and Ruby Tuesdays are now forever entwined? I could see down the line, whenever a coach is in trouble people will be saying.” Like this coach heading fuh Ruby Tuesday boy!”

  27. Are you guys effing dottish arrrrrrr hart made our team where it is today how could you sack him at this crucial time smh really thought we were making it to Russia 2018, do you know what this could do with our team mentality stupid as fuck

  28. Stupes what a bunch of idiots TTFF getting like the WICB yes

  29. That is the nature of the game, as a coach when the team can’t win you job is on the line, nothing personal when you get fired, that just the way it is. now sack the captain.

  30. Not,only Hart but non performing players as well

  31. You change hart and leave kenwin ? Smh that’s it bye Russia 😥

  32. Im hearing all kind of emotional comments, what is the Win/ loss/ draw performance for 2016 for TnT ????Lasana Liburd

  33. Lasana Liburd I am hearing that Hart was working without a contract any truth to that?

  34. Stephen Hart was classy all the way to the end. I as a Coach don’t mind being ridiculed or criticised behind closed doors but when you do it in public in front of my athletes then you have crossed the line of professionalism. In all of our sports we have this ‘coup attitude’. Please name one sport where we work as a team as a nation to succeed internationally. Our administrators work with an attitude of “leh we wait for him to trip and fall and he dogs dead” These are big men who think this way. Not only in football but in every sport.

  35. There goes our hopes for Russia 😢