Stern John’s final swing of the boot last night and the trademark bulge of the net sent WASA FC players into frenzy as they streamed towards the veteran 38-year-old striker at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
The last time a John item created such a stir was on 12 October 2005 when his double at the Hasely Crawford Stadium secured a remarkable 2-1 win over Mexico, which salvaged Trinidad and Tobago’s historic 2006 World Cup campaign. It was the last time that the Hasely Crawford ground was sold out.
Last night, the occasion was the Toyota Classic Cup—not the World Cup—and the entire attendance could probably fit in one PTSC bus.
If it was not quite a fitting swansong for Trinidad and Tobago’s greatest scorer of all time, John’s emphatic spot kick, which sealed a 4-3 penalty shoot win over defending Toyota Cup and Pro League champion team DIRECTV W Connection, ensured that local football fans would have another chance to see him strut on the highest stage of the game on the island.
Next Saturday, WASA will face Caledonia AIA in the Toyota Classic quarterfinal round, which should bring John head-to-head with his former World Cup teammate, Densill Theobald. Together, they are arguably the most underappreciated “Soca Warriors” of this millennium.
While players like Aurtis Whitley, Kerwin “Hardest” Jemmott, Terry “Jughead” St Louis, Silvio Spann and, arguably, Hayden Tinto had international careers that could be classified as short and sweet, Theobad’s longevity—he represented the Warriors 99 times—as well as selflessness and ability to adapt to the requirements of a multitude of coaches were his defining qualities.
Yet, it seems that many Warrior fans never forgave Theobald for winning the nod ahead of local icon Russell Latapy at the 2006 World Cup where he played at central midfield, left wing and even left back.
And, in the eight years thereafter, the Caledonia midfielder never quite had the signature moment that stands out in memory for fans like Spann’s outrageous free kick against El Salvador at the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Tinto’s brilliant equaliser at the Azteca Stadium in World Cup qualifying action against Mexico or Whitley’s tremendous individual performances against Mexico and Bahrain in the 2006 qualifying campaign.
Theobald was an efficient, meticulous professional who made a career of short, sharp but unflashy passes that freed up his teammates to inflict damage on opponents.
Trinidad and Tobago, as a nation, prefers spectacle to substance, which partly explains why the country’s most successful player, Dwight Yorke, was also only valued in the twilight of his career after he was converted from a prolific poacher into a deep-lying midfielder.
John never had that transformation from hunter to farmer. He is and always will be remembered as a snarling assassin and a ruthless finisher; not as a team guy, hardworking foot soldier or an entertainer. Not only are his 70 international goals the highest ever tally by a Trinidad and Tobago player; it is the ninth-highest recorded mark by anyone who ever played the game.
He has scored two more than Germany’s Gerd Muller, five more than the Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba and eight more than Brazil’s Ronaldo. And, above him, John has one less than Germany’s Miroslav Klose, he is seven short of Brazil icon Pele and 39 shy of football’s greatest international scorer, Iran’s Ali Daei.
Chances are that everyone on that list receives a bit more appreciation in their homeland. But John never let that stop him.
The game started without him yesterday as John watched the likes of 18-year-old Connection attacker, Akeem Garcia, who is roughly the same age as the veteran’s son, Tyriq John, sprinted around the field.
After seven minutes, Connection was predictably ahead as attacker Hashim Arcia rolled into the path of overlapping full back Alvin Jones who had time and space to shoot just inside the opposing area. When Jones hits the ball, it does not talk back; and WASA goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel only felt the breeze as the missile flew past him.
Connection ought to have doubled its advantage in the 47th minute but Arcia failed to find a teammate after rounding Samuel and defender Cleveland Cambridge cleared his tentative cross for a corner kick. And, two minutes later, the “Water Boys” stunned their illustrious opponent with an equaliser.
Mario Kissoon, a tricky ball handler who operated like a support striker, made a clever, disguised pass into the path of another veteran, Gary Glasgow, and the 39-year-old attacker faked past national under-20 defender Maurice Ford before squeezing his shot beyond Connection custodian Julani Archibald.
Three minutes later, Kissoon thought he had put WASA ahead. And so did everyone else.
This time, he ghosted behind the Connection defence to collect a headed flick on from Glen Walker. Kissoon’s first shot ricocheted between Archibald’s legs before the attacker stabbed in the rebound.
Referee Neal Brizan signalled a goal but, after Archibald stayed down for treatment, the referee changed his mind and awarded Connection a free kick instead.
WASA coach Marvin Faustin, another former national hero, was not amused although a replayed showed Kissoon stepped on Archibald’s back before slotting home the rebound.
In the 73rd minute, Faustin made the change that the smattering of fans was waiting for as John replaced Kissoon.
“Allyuh can’t get the ball from Stern!” shouted one excited WASA fan. “Show dem young fellahs how to play!”
It was not quite an education for Connection though. Although John was inconvenienced by teammates who suddenly seemed incapable of providing a proper pass; and substitute Dorian Daniel, a journeyman lower league player, was particularly culpable.
Instead, Connection substitutes Jerrel Britto and Keon Boucher fluffed simple scoring opportunities from inside the opposing six-yard box while WASA goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel, a former World Youth Cup player, managed one tremendous reflex save to deny St Lucia midfielder Tremain Paul.
There were no more goals in regulation time, though, and Brizan signalled for kicks from the penalty spot.
Penalty shootouts are supposedly the time for goalkeepers to become heroes. But neither Samuel nor Archibald blocked any of the ten efforts.
The opening four items were all converted, with Jones and Glasgow among the scorers, before Arcia banged his penalty off the bar. Walker was up next and skied his kick; but Connection’s Neil Benjamin Jr also fired over as the advantage remained with WASA.
And, when Ethan Robinson spanked home WASA’s fourth penalty to put his team 3-2 ahead, the Super League outfit began to celebrate early. The Water Boys would win once John, the former Birmingham City and Sunderland striker, did what he does better than any other Trinidad and Tobago citizen alive or dead.
Samuel got a hand to Connection’s fifth kick from captain Gerard Williams but could not keep it out. No matter. John was next.
Archibald walked off his line to try and unsettle WASA’s final kicker who is the first player with England Premier League experience to play in a competitive match in Trinidad and Tobago. He might have well been whistling into a hurricane.
“Show them Johnny Walker!” yelled the fan.
John, who has made a career out of souring the evenings of goalkeepers all over the planet, got the job done quickly. Bang! The ball flew low to Archibald’s right and the WASA squad went berserk.
Next week, John will keep on walking as he tries to find the back of the net against Theobald’s Caledonia. Hopefully, fans who cheered the Warriors on when they created history will come out to wish him good luck.
W Connection (4-2-1-3): 18.Julani Archibald (GK); 39.Alvin Jones, 26.Maurice Ford, 5.Mekeil Williams, 2.Kurt Frederick; 3.Gerard Williams (captain), 11.Tremain Paul; 10.Yefer Steven (12.Jerrel Britto 64); 65.Neil Benjamin Jr, 29.Akeem Garcia (23.Keon Boucher 68).
Unused substitutes: 22.Aquelius Sylvester (GK), 13.Devaughn Elliot, 16.Anselm Jackson, 19.Joel Russell, 36.Triston Hodge.
Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier
WASA FC (4-4-1-1): 34.Glenroy Samuel (GK); 5.Akil Harley (captain), 2.Damien Pompey (21.Dominic Hutchinson 71), 22.Justin Garcia, 15.Cleveland Cambridge; 20.Dillon Peterson (18.Dorian Daniel 78), 28.Ethan Robinson, 8.Kevon Henry, 23.Gary Glasgow; 6.Mario Kissoon (25.Stern John 73); 26.Glen Walker.
Unused substitutes: 1.Michael Woods (GK), 9.Kareem Freitas, 10.Jahhan Hernandez, 19.Duran Felician.
Coach: Marvin Faustin
Toyota Classic Cup
Round of 16
(Sat Nov 22)
W Connection 1 (Alvin Jones 7), WASA FC 1 (Gary Glasgow 49) at Couva;
*–WASA won 4-3 on penalties
Caledonia AIA 3 (Nathan Lewis 32, Pernell Schultz 76, Kyle Adams 82), Defence Force (S/League) 0 at Couva;
San Juan Jabloteh 4 (OG 17, Troy Moses 31, 40, Johann Peltier 69), 1976 FC Phoenix 0 at Macoya;
Defence Force 6 (Devorn Jorsing 30, 45, 69, Kerry Joseph 53, Glynn Franklyn 77, Darryl Trim 81), Petrotrin Palo Seco 0 at Macoya.
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The English language is difficult to understand…w.connection fc says… the world is our competition….to understand what we are trying to tell our players ….set your standards very high…we compete on a regular basis in tnt , caribbean and concacaf region we dominate at home and the caribbean and now our next step is to give a better account of ourselves at concacaf level…and to reach the world club championship …its our dream…you must have dreams so therefore we need our players to play a perfect game every day and to be the best every day….don’t just think about winning here in the pro league…the real test is the world of clubs which u can meet at anytime….so yes sometimes u will be embarrassed by a team or two…..but for 15 years of domestic dominance ….its our duty to think of the world as our competitors and not just the local clubs…we have to train hard and get to our perfect game everyday so we will be at that level to compete internationally… so understand our way …just explaining with pride….as we continue our journey.
Kirk I am not taking away what the players did I am merley stating a fact and we need 2 recognise that Jack was very much responsible for us qualifying for 06 WC
Cheryl is not the players its was jack warner I am referring 2 who used his VP of fifa status 2 get that 4th place vs 5th place asia. the players are innocent of that fact. no way will I implicate a player. it’s the executive level I was referring to.
And all we saying Prince is that hard-work got us there. If I giving Jack any credit is for the creation of that play-off spot. Every other team gets to the WC on their own merit. Is only we needed help? I hear what Dion selling. But I not buying..
Dion is onto something though. I am not for attacking individuals on the board though. Good friendly banter. Don’t take much what dion says personally he’s just very passionate when he speaks. All he’s saying is HE believes Jack had a hand in getting us to the World Cup. He never said all players were involve. He just said JW was. Why is that hard to believe? With the man history. He owe the country too after 89. He also said without Latas this would not have happened. Latas was begged to come back. This is my opinion Latas wanted no part in our corrupted football! But he loved the game, the country and wanted to help rescue his friends. I do not think players were involve. Some of the things happens in games is hard to script
Dion people like you who like to pelt around words like naive are the ones who always smarter than everyone else:) The mere work involved in buying, manipulating and keeping entire football entities quiet for all these behind the scenes theories is impractical, impossible and idiotic. To say the very least..
Dion how u know I’m naive you don’t know me or my background to make such comment!!! And listen pal I know a lot about football and these players your talking about from 2006 are all good friends of mine and would never ever manipulate the game they love and the country they love.
Cheryl you and a whole set of naive people can believe what the hell you want that’s my opinion and you obvious have no clue how real football is manipulated behind the scenes so there will be nothing I can say 2 convince u otherwise
If is one thing I never bought, is the perpetual culture of conspiracy theories. Not in regular life events and neither in sports..
Lol ok Dion Sosa…. Mexico sent an inexperienced team because they were already qualified.. guess Jack paid Stern to miss a penalty, Mexico to score a wonderful chip, Kelvin to intentionally slam himself into a post trying to save it to be subbed out and for Stern to score a predatory finish after we hit the post and then the cherry on the cake score a cracking left foot finish to win it….oh yea Jack also paid him extra to almost score from half line and hit the post with a backheel flick.
VIBES IT UP!!!
Anyone who felt trinidad qualified for germany 06 just so real mad yes Jack knew that usa was gonna sell the game to guatemala that’s why he paid mexico to field a Z team and that’s how they fot the chance against a weak ass bahrain side that draw was manipulated from the beginning 2 give us the best chance 2 qualify but if latas did not come out of retirement that would have never been possible he was the spark on the team
Check out how dem MLS fellas rate Stern. And by de way, on this day in 1999, Stern scored on his debut with Nottingham Forest.
Thanks Travis! Those who know the difference between careful writing and slapdash stuff would be able to tell. 😉
Gen McCarthy oh gorm lol. I am willing to re-evaluate my original position in light of all this new information:)
brilliant article as usual Lass. shows you have a passion for writing not like the jokers who write as if they were a teenager who wanted to play football on their x box and their mother insisted that they do their chores first. so they hurry down their chores so they can do what they really want to do.
The English language is difficult to understand. ..w.connection fc says…the world the world is our competition….to understand what we are trying to tell our players ….set your standards very high…we compete on a regual basis in tnt , caribbean and concacaf region we dominate at home and the caribbean and now our nxt step is to give a better account of oursleves at concacaf level…and to reach the world club championship …its our dream…you must have dreams so therefore we need our players to play a perfect game every day and to be the best every day….dont just think about winning here in the pro league…the real test is the world of clubs which u can meet at anytime….so yes sometimes u will be embarrassed by a team or two…..but for 15 years of domestic dominance ….its our duty to think of the world as our competitors and not just the local clubs…we have to train hard and get to our perfect game everyday so we will be at that level to compete internationally… so understand our way …..just explaining with pride….as we continue our journey. …
Lol. I’m sure things would have happened the way they were supposed to one way or the other.
I always remember how positive Kelvin Jack and Brent Sancho were no matter the odds though. Those two lived and breathed football 24/7.
At the time, I was living in the UK and would travel up and down the country covering football games with TT players. Quite an adventure.
Too many comments to read but Kirk A Inniss I really don’t appreciate your comments on Stern John!!! I hear your point but I still don’t appreciate it lol
Lasana izza hero! Tank yuh Lasana! Ah goin an make ah tribute video fuh yuh. Yuh give we we WC beast of ah keeper… and yuh help take down de overlord! Lol… 3 cheers fuh Lasana! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!
Lasana.. Yes.. Tbh you changed my mind. I wasn’t convinced everyone will be on equal footing so I couldn’t be bothered trying to be number 1 and not having a fair shot
I never saw that tribute before. Nice post Cheyenne Hector.
Kelvin Jack remember that chat we had back in 2005 when you were considering retirement? Beenhakker had just taken over and had called everyone to trials…
Who would have thought of what lay ahead.
Beautiful tribute to Kelvin Jack and well deserved. Go for it Kelvin. Lead again from the front. Take on Tim Kee, Mini Mi and the rest ah them shithongs
let’s not forget a certain poster here too. That save(1:30) put my ass in a seat in Dortmund, Germany.
expecting that link to be posted soon..
Lots and lots of them. What about the bullit Chris Birchall scored to equalize against Bahrain in POS that gave us that chance to finish the job in Bahrain. Keep the memories coming.
This post bringing back memories.lol
While on the subject of great forwards. Wasn’t Warren Archibald an old Benedict’s Boy one of the best goal scores of all time?
As I mentioned some players who had short careers but would always be remembered for a memorable moment… Remember Silvio Spann’s stunning free kick in the Gold Cup? http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pY9LFCSFPlU
I was there for that Kevin so was my Son who almost flattened me when Stern scored that goal. Could still hear him shouting to everybody around us ” allyuh cuss Stern now nah” Lol!. Hubby and I went to every game and to Germany to support. Best loan we ever took in our lives.
Second only to Dennis Lawrence’s winner against Bahrain…. Allyuh relive dis moment wit meh. Ah was behind de uprights fuh dis one…. ah scream like ah gyurl. Cuz dey was rel givin it tuh him for an earlier “miss”.
Kevin that was my Son also. He defended Stern to de bone in the middle of a packed stadium without fear of being pelted with cans. When it comes to TnT football he always got his stats right and the funniest thing is he ended up marrying Ray Robert’s Daughter. Some of you may not recall but Ray was a forward on the 1974 National squad.
I will defend Stern anywhere, anytime! In de middle of de stadium when de whole crowd cussin… I was there giving him my full support. Stern played de role of lone striker fuh so many years! Up front… alone! And still delivered. I dunno how many strikers can, or ever had to do that before.
An fuh all de cuss dey cuss him…. Yuh see dat second goal against Mexico? Yuh see dat venomous left-footed BULLET dat sent de stadium into pandemonium!!! God bless Stern John! Thank you Stern!
I have only one version of him for a long time. It normally involved me screaming at him from some uncomfortable seats in the stadium, or shouting at a TV screen in a bar. I like and appreciate the people with more insight. Sometimes that helps. Thanks.
That man had so much pressure from the public too yet would come for every T&T game, will never fake an injury to stay with his club like some do. Man bled for the red black and white…I went to Guyana when we lost 2-1 in 2011 to be knocked out the World Cup qualification and there is Stern John, a man who has been to the World Cup and now into his mid 30’s , walks over to the dressing room when the whistle blew to confirm we are out and literally starts destroying the door… i just remember him hitting it a few times and I got gooesbumps. Everyone else was gutted of course but that just proved how much he really cared about this team when at his age and what he had been through post 2006 that this guy felt so strongly about it all. Top Class man.
Stern “Bound To Score” John!!! My player! DE GREATEST striker in our nation’s history! My player! Stern scores goals.
In the last round of six in the Concacaf Qualifiers for the 2006 WC, T&T scored 19 goals… guess how much Stern scored? Always ah champion.
Kelvin my Son Yohun would agree with you re Stern. he’s still a big fan of his.
Prince, he always wanted to play upfront but Simoes used him in defence and St Clair used him in midfield.
St Clair wanted to make him the next Patrick Vieira. But he only ever wanted to play upfront like his uncle.
Another thing people don’t praise Stern more for is his Football Brain/IQ… bringing others into play, choosing the right option, the right step to the right or left, buying fouls in dangerous areas or at times when we were under pressure and needed a minute to regroup… all these things plus his exceptional ability to be in the right place at the right time and generally hit the net made him not only my favourite T&T striker but favourite footballer of all time. Absolute Legend
I remember listening on the radio and listening to stern John scoring goals in SSL. That guy is a scoring machine. Every great striker miss chances. Patrick Kluivert use to miss like he was going out if style. When the game on the line he popped up and scored a winner.
Lasana Liburd I think you being very generous.
Steve David would probably have been our best scorer of all time if he continued. He played in one World Cup qualifying campaign and a half and it took Stern three World Cup campaigns with more games to boot to pass his goal tally.
But David and many of those 74 players who went to the U.S. were axed by Warner because he couldn’t control them.
Didn’t kenwin play holding mid when he started?
Debbie.. Stern John was the truth.. Just the damn truth…
I’m from an era with strikers like Leonson Lewis, Dwight Yorke, Jerren Nixon, Nigel Pierre, Arnold Dwarika, Mickey Trotman, Stern John, Jason Scotland, Cornell Glen and so on. I would add Earl Jean to that list although he is not a Trini as I always look forward to seeing him play for Connection.
So Kenwyne’s style upfront isn’t what I am used to or what I enjoy in the same way.
But I try to be fair to him as his abilities are different. Once, he is effective I am satisfied.
And I think he has had more good games than bad in the last two years. Obviously he did not shine in the Caribbean Cup final.
Kelvin thanks for clearing that up. Decided to step back and just read. Also i’m sure there were some prolific goal scorers in our 1974 team, one of the best ever, who were cheated out of their chance to go to Germany by Papa Doc. But many of you were too young to remember.
Kirk.. Maybe I had the advantage of seeing him up close.. Believe me my friend, his finishing is outstanding.. One goal has stood out for me. We played against Panama in Panama I think and it was a heavy pitch, terrible conditions. It was a game with 0-0 written all over it. We also needed to beat panama to keep our hopes alive. Then he makes a determined run to the near post and finishes. The defender did not do much wrong but what struck me was the timing of the run. That’s difficult to coach.. It showed that he had a very very good footballing brain.. He was a wonderful striker for us.
Kirk A Inniss like you I get real hoarse in the stadium cussing Stern but now seeing Kenwyn I would gladly take Stern in a wheel chair as meh striker. But what I discovered as I got into coaching and this stat you could check is that the very same thing we use to cuss Stern for is what make him deadly. We complain Stern use to miss 10 before he score 1 but the average striker world class and all don’t get 11 chances in a game no matter how good they play. Some how Stern use to get all dem chances. And that could lead to rebounds corners deflections etc so coaches would love him.
But Kelvin I can easily accept and respect what you saying.