Home / Volley / Local Football / Stars penalise Connection in FA final; WCFC promise protest

Stars penalise Connection in FA final; WCFC promise protest

After a two and a half year drought, North East Stars returned to winners’ row last night with a 5-4 penalty shootout triumph over defending champions, DIRECTV W Connection, in the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy final at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

Photo: North East Stars goalkeeper and captain Cleon John (centre) takes the TTFA FA Trophy from TTFA vice-president Bryan Layne. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars goalkeeper and captain Cleon John (centre) takes the TTFA FA Trophy from TTFA vice-president Bryan Layne.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

There were roughly 1,000 fans at the Ato Boldon Stadium for the cup final and, for the most part, their noisy exuberance put to shame the much larger audience that turned out to watch Trinidad and Tobago’s 1-0 friendly defeat to Panama, two days earlier.

At the death, the Sangre Grande contingent was in ecstasy as the shorthanded Stars overcame a man deficit to defy Connection.

Connection chairman David John Williams vowed to take the fight beyond the final whistle, though. In the post-game press conference, Williams reiterated his view—which he expressed before the match—that Stars forward Gorean Highley should have been ineligible since he joined the club after the January transfer window and received special dispensation to play only in the Reserve League.

“The rule clearly says that Gorean Highley was registered outside of the transfer window as a senior player only to play reserve team football,” said Williams. “When I saw the name on the team list, I went to the Director of Competitions who is Neville Ferguson. I spoke to Sharon (O’Brien) about it and the Match Commissioner and they still allowed the game to play.

“I think that is bringing the game into disrepute. I will take it all the way…”

It costs just $500 to lodge a protest to the TTFA. Yet, that is $500 more than the combined cash prize for the competition.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee (right) and general secretary Sheldon Phillips. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee (right) and general secretary Sheldon Phillips.
(Courtesy Wired868)

The FA Trophy was once Trinidad and Tobago’s most prestigious cup competition. But those days are long gone. Now, the competition is testament to the hapless and ineffective leadership style of president Raymond Tim Kee and general secretary Sheldon Phillips.

In Tim Kee’s first year in charge, he handed out trophies, medals and promises after the FA final. In his second year, he promised prize money and then never paid.

Last night, neither he nor Phillips even bothered to show up.

Yet, with only pride at stake, Connection and Stars fought as though they were in the middle of the desert and contesting the last bottle of water.

Stars coach Angus Eve came into the converted conference room for his media address while journalists were speaking to the Connection chairman. He listened attentively as Williams explained why he felt Stars did not deserve the trophy before storming out on the grounds that the media disrespected him by ignoring his presence.

In fact, Williams had spoken for all of one minute and 40 seconds and the Stars coach did not have a long wait. But then Eve is big on latching on to perceived slights and nurturing them.

Photo: North East Stars coach Angus Eve. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars coach Angus Eve.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Despite being Trinidad and Tobago’s most capped outfield international player, Eve has always carried the air of an outsider; and, with Stars, he has found a club that mirrors his feelings. Both Stars and Eve, arguably, see themselves as great figures that are denied the limelight by the system’s inherent snobbery.

If anything, Williams’ post-game fury probably fit their perceived script perfectly.

“We played well and we enjoyed enough territorial advantage to win the game,” said Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier. “We just needed one goal.”

Fevrier was partially correct. But Stars, despite playing with ten men for 88 of the 130 minutes, had at least as much claim to the trophy as they did.

It was not a great technical affair. Connection was generally one-paced while Stars struggled to force their opponents back once they lost numerical parity. But the game was not short of drama.

Before kick off, journalists were surprised to see National Under-20 midfielder Duane Muckette, a University of South Florida student, and Highley, a Super League player with Malabar FC, in the Stars’ starting team.

Photo: North East Stars striker Gorean Highley (right) takes on W Connection defender Christian Ocoro Viveros in the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy final. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars striker Gorean Highley (right) takes on W Connection defender Christian Ocoro Viveros in the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy final.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“I’m playing this match under protest!” said Williams, as he thundered about Stars’ recruits before kick off. “Win, lose or draw, I will protest…”

Both Muckette and Highley joined Stars after the transfer window although Muckette, as a teenager and free agent, was clearly permitted a move by Pro League’s rules.

Highley’s transfer is not so clear cut, which did not necessarily mean that it was illegal.

Article 6 in FIFA’s bylaws on the Status and Transfer of Players states: “Players may only be registered during one of the two annual registration periods fixed by the relevant association. As an exception to this rule, a professional whose contract has expired prior to the end of a registration period may be registered outside that registration period.

“Associations are authorised to register such professionals provided due consideration is given to the sporting integrity of the relevant competition.”

The Pro League decided against allowing Highley to play in its senior competition. The TTFA decided otherwise. Williams suggested he will legally challenge the latter body.

Photo: North East Stars midfielder Duane Muckette (centre) in action against W Connection in the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy final. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars midfielder Duane Muckette (centre) in action against W Connection in the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy final.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

From the opening whistle, Connection’s mood would not have lightened as Stars, who were in an uncharacteristically proactive mindset, pressed high and forced their more illustrious opponent back. Muckette and playmaker Keron Cummings were bubbling and Highley, nippy and tricky, was feeding off their passes in the channels.

Connection, who, as is their custom in the FA competition, fielded a largely second string team, could barely get out of their half of the field.

Then, in a ten minute spell, disaster struck for Stars.

Hard man Keryn Navarro, who spent the early part of the game keeping close watch on Connection star striker Shahdon Winchester, was forced out with an injury in the 24th minute. Navarro’s replacement, Jayson Joseph, barely lasted eight minutes on the field before referee Cecile Hinds showed him a straight red card for leaving his feet to lunge into a tackle at Connection’s Christian Rodriguez near the centre circle.

Stars initially held their high line, as they swapped 4-3-3 for 4-2-3, and had the best effort of the first half as a long ranged Cummings missile rapped the knuckles of Connection custodian Aquelius Sylvester and spun away for a corner. But, as Fevrier sent on Jomal Williams and Jerrel Britto at the interval, Stars dropped deeper and the momentum swung.

Photo: North East Stars substitute Jayson Joseph (left) lunges at W Connection midfielder Christian Rodriguez in front of referee Cecile Hinds (background) in the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy final. Joseph received a straight card for his tackle. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars substitute Jayson Joseph (left) lunges at W Connection midfielder Christian Rodriguez in front of referee Cecile Hinds (background) in the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy final.
Joseph received a straight card for his tackle.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Eve left Highley up on his own but the slim striker lacked the strength to hold up the ball for his teammates and Connection began to dictate proceedings. The reshuffle after Navarro’s injury saw midfielder Kion Joseph moved to right back and Connection left back Kurt Frederick found him as easy to negotiate as a training cone.

Yet Connection lacked an incisive final pass in and around the Stars penalty area while the “Savonetta Boys” could not move the ball around quickly enough to beat the hardworking trio of Dwane James, Neveal Hackshaw and substitute Jeromie Williams.

James, Hackshaw and Connection’s Jomal Williams all represented the “Soca Warriors” on Friday night.

It said much that Connection’s first notable shot on target came in the 84th minute and it was a tame one from Britto. By then, John had taken to time wasting and Eve had long since replaced Muckette and James with more defensive players.

In the 90th minute, Connection should have put the game to bed as Jomal slipped a pass through for Winchester but the latter player was denied from close range by a brilliant reflex stop from John.

Photo: W Connection goalkeeper Aquelius Sylvester (left) and defender Bradley Beaumont (right) combine to keep out North East Stars attacker Keron Cummings during the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy final. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection goalkeeper Aquelius Sylvester (left) and defender Bradley Beaumont (right) combine to keep out North East Stars attacker Keron Cummings during the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy final.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Eve pushed Cummings higher up the field and Stars began to create chances of their own once more. Sylvester tipped over a Highley strike in the second minute of extra time while substitute Aquil Selby failed to keep his header down after a dangerous whipped free kick into the area from another National Under-20 player, Jesus Perez.

But, once more, Connection created the most glaring opportunity. In the 115th minute, Britto’s header squirmed away from John and rapped the post. Britto reacted quickly to beat the Stars captain to the loose ball and poked it into the back of the net.

A Connection employee set off fireworks in the uncovered stands. But Hinds had already signalled a foul on John.

“Video evidence will prove it was a good goal,” said Fevrier.

He was probably right. But it would not be the first time that a goalkeeper received the benefit of the doubt in the penalty area.

John was back to his commanding best for the subsequent shoot out. He has had a lot of practice. Yesterday was Stars’ fourth cup final since Eve took over in mid-2012 and all four have gone to kicks from the penalty spot.

Photo: North East Stars hero Cleon John (centre) is congratulated by reserve goalie Stefan Berkeley after the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy final. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars hero Cleon John (centre) is congratulated by reserve goalie Stefan Berkeley after the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy final.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Stars defeated Defence Force 4-2 on penalties in 8 December 2012 to clinch the Toyota Classic Cup, which was Eve’s first title as a head coach. But the Sangre Grande team then lost two shoot-outs to Connection in May 2013 in the Lucozade Sport and Digicel Pro Bowl finals.

Sunday night was Eve’s first appearance in a cup final since then and it was third time lucky for Stars.

Winchester took Connection’s opening penalty and John got a hand to it but could not stop the shot from squeezing home to his left.

Jomal Williams was not so lucky as John flew to his right to make the save. And, with no other misses, Joseph recovered from his nightmarish night at right back to cooly stroke home Stars’ winner.

Fevrier congratulated Stars on their success. But Williams bristled at the perceived injustice of it all.

“I think it is pathetic,” said Williams. “The TTFF is the highest body in football who answers to CFU and then CONCACAF. It tells me I can register a player now in my reserve team and play him in the Caribbean Championship.

“I cannot accept something like that.”

Photo: North East Stars player Keon Joseph (third from right) is congratulated by teammates after scoring the winning penalty against W Connection in the TTFA FA Trophy final. At far right is North East Stars midfielder Neveal Hackshaw. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars player Kion Joseph (third from right) is congratulated by teammates after scoring the winning penalty against W Connection in the TTFA FA Trophy final.
At far right is North East Stars midfielder Neveal Hackshaw.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Eve did not stick around to share his feelings on the issue. Perhaps he didn’t have to.

For the first and only time since 2003, the FA Trophy headed to Sangre Grande last night. Incidentally, Stars won on penalties 12 years ago too.

(Teams)

North East Stars (4-3-2-1): 22.Cleon John (GK) (captain); 25.Keryn Navarro, 4.Keithy Simpson, 15.Glenton Wolfe, 38.Jesus Perez; 14.Dwane James (5.Aquil Selby 82), 41.Neveal Hackshaw, 44.Kion Joseph (12.Jayson Joseph 24); 8.Duane Muckette (6.Jeromie Williams 62), 10.Keron Cummings; 9.Gorean Highley.

Unused substitutes: 1.Stefan Berkeley (GK), 7.Stephen Prescott, 18.Kaashif Thomas, 26.Zavion Navarro.

Coach: Angus Eve

 

W Connection (4-2-1-3): 22.Aquelius Sylvester (GK) (captain); 39.Alvin Jones (34.Jabari Mitchell 102), 4.Bradley Beaumont, 25.Christian Viveros, 2.Kurt Frederick; 11.Tremain Paul, 20.Christian Rodriguez; 10.Yefer Steven Lozano (40.Jomal Williams 46); 28.Aikim Andrews, 30.Aaquil Campbell (12.Jerrel Britto 46), 9.Shahdon Winchester.

Unused substitutes: 1.Terrance Lewis (GK), 16.Anselm Jackson, 36.Triston Hodge, 45.Kori Cupid.

Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier

 

Referee: Cecile Hinds

Photo: North East Stars players Jerome Williams (left) and Aquil Selby sprint to join their teammates in celebration after clinching the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy title. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars players Jerome Williams (left) and Aquil Selby sprint to join their teammates in celebration after clinching the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy title.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

TTFA FA Trophy final

(Sun Mar 29)

North East Stars 0, W Connection 0 at Couva;

*—Stars won 5-4 on penalties

MVP: Cleon John (North East Stars)

Top scorer: Richard Roy (Defence Force) eight goals

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

Check Also

Look Loy: T&T football run by “refereeing mafia;” Downer, Taylor, Ramdhan and Caesar give views

The rift between the Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association (TTFRA) and Trinidad and Tobago Super …

24 comments

  1. W wa win all. when u dead take it na. this is y we football not going nowhere

  2. Rhythm is T&T “NO DOUBT” not up for discussion, the size of the rhythm sections is the factor we need to address, in Brazil there is samba, at every game there are drums, but, it does not have to drown out the support of the fans, without fans no success, we need you guys to come back and support local football, we go to places and the home team fans don’t want you to cheer it upsets them so just imagine if you go after a player and get into his head and he has a bad game then we played with twelve right? People this is the reality of it come down to the game meet your friends there, walk with yuh coolers and start yuh own bottle and spoon section and sing and cheer for the next two hours and when your team wins say that was due to “us” bring the “soca”, “calypso” wright songs to sing for your favorite players, boo when you feel, cheer when you see good football, all are welcome, even those who want quiet just find your spot and do what you want. We in T&T have our own way of doing things look where “Trini Posse” has reached, all over the world there is a mound now where you can let loose, still there are stands for the conservative. So all in all find that team in your area take your children to the game use it as your family time for the week invite friends, cook, fill the cooler, meet new people and of course enjoy yuh self “Trini style”

  3. Wow!!!!! Earl love your approach to the matter sir professional as usual keep it up. There are comments here i wonder if some people know there are three sides to every story, wonder if they know the other side? Gorian maybe, was the best thing we have had since Dwight but, he choose his path. None the less prior to playing these players we did what was required and the “RULES” allowed it, we have started to build our 2015/2016 team and we believe Gorian has a lot to offer when fit and focused he is “TROUBLE” we intend to get him in shape, yes just as the Tobago M.P every Tom Dick and Harry has mud to sling at him, but North East Stars F.C will give him a second chance at life in football When a young man has a problem it is easy to turn our backs, heard a story about a barrel of milk and a baby once maybe they tried the whole barrel instead of a bottle.

  4. Hannibal Najjar

    If John Williams’ information about the rules and player involved is correct, then there is no question that there is a violation and the fullest penalty should be accorded – how could it be any different! By the way, how does “lol” fit into a conversation of this nature??

  5. As long as its ok ….we will acknowledge we just need to be clear

  6. We did throw away the game so believe me the president is not disappointed in that…he and the coaching staff are disappointed with the result beacuse we should have won…
    But that is just football we live with that…no excuses…North worked very hard and took it to the wire…good for them…we had a good goal nullified and thats how the game is….its not the first loss and i am sure it wont be the last…but things need to change…as long as its legal we will stand by the rules but the pro league did stipulate. ..whether the ttff rules applies its left to be seen. …I like to win on the field but always the right way….never by any means necessary. …we dont do that at connection believe me….so lets see…if the governing body says its ok then we know thats it…but lets try to do things the honest way. ..or else when will we ever develop. …so we must try to find out if things were right

    • Tough luck on the loss, but given the high standards set by W Connection, I’m sure your team will be there again next season. Good to see NE Stars return to prominence… hopefully success will prove to be more than fleeting.

  7. Yes we did. ..to be fair…we did speak about it in our meetings when we saw the game against jabloteh…then I personally spoke to the match commissioners before the game started just because we were aware of it…they had discussions with north east stars….so whatever the outcome so be it….the said player wanted to join our ranks but the transfer window was already closed and because of past discipline issues we were not too keen ….and also because we could have only used him in reserve games…he is a good talent and he is one of the first players w.connection sent out to europe at 16 or 17 yrs. .and to scotland he was suppose to sign a 3 year deal but …don’t want to go into details. …will just laugh for now because i am sure many may know…Guess mentally he was not ready to commit to outside …a player we still have lots of respect for…

  8. Doesn’t mean they will win the protest eh. But he made it clear from early that he would protest.

  9. I believe in fairness regardless of the team. Professional standards and rules must be adhered to.

  10. Okay thanks! Then an investigation is truly warranted.

  11. Buh A A Gorean Highley has returned to playing in our professional league eh, if he had done that long time ago eh with some of the other players in our sweet country eh, he would have been on our national team long time ago eh, and they would have represented very good. Them really good yes

  12. Alana Allan, in the match report I made it clear that Williams expressed his concerns long before kick off.

  13. It was exciting. And the crowd really got into the game, which was wonderful to hear.
    Personally, I feel Connection didn’t move the ball around quickly enough to open up Stars when they went a player up. And I felt Highley wasn’t holding up the ball well enough to do enough damage on the break.
    But nice final otherwise.

  14. Did Williams express his concerns before the match with the officials when he saw the lineup? Or is he a sorrow loser? I wonder if Connection who clearly threw away their match having the advantage over 10 NES men had won if we would have heard Williams big mouth?

  15. Oh …yes lets all thank the fans for coming out and making it exciting. …great participation..
    On both sets of fans

  16. Always magnificent when u get a duel in a final…always exciting. …hurts when I lose but you appreciate what football brings….you go back work on mistakes and you know youll be in another final again…that’s who we are at W….we live for the big games. ..

  17. Concerning the crowd, it is my belief that rhythm sections kill the event for supporters. Once they play, they drown out the supporters and they just give up. Football supporters want to be heard…that’s why they shout and sing! At the T&T vs Panama game, the T&T rhythm section played right through. So, who did they help? Both teams were stimulated by the rhythm, but T&T supporters could not be heard so T&T lost their home advantage. Players do hear the supporters. I know the Central F.C. players love the support and it’s apparent from the reaction of the opposition players and staff that it gets under their skin….which, of course, is the aim!! I’m very pleased to hear that there was great vocal support at the F.A.Trophy final.

    • “shout[ing] and sing[ing]” is a European tradition, which while it may have taken root recently in some quarters, and may have enjoyed currency in other, for the most part is foreign to TnT football. Rhythm sections are not, but rather quite the opposite, are inimical to the sport on every level… they’ve even found popularity in international and test cricket. The only reason rhythm sections aren’t found throughout the sport as much anymore is because live support for football has waned over the years. To suggest that they rhythm section is somehow a detriment to the football experience is to betray your own ignorance and lack of appreciation for the culture of the sport as it exists in Trinidad.

      • While I agree that rhythm sections are a cultural tradition here in T&T, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is beneficial or adds in some way to the sporting event. Personally, I enjoy tassa and have tried to incorporate tassa into the entertainment value of football and as a means to encourage support. As a football club, our first priority is to win games and, I would expect, the same goes for National teams. In my experience of attending well over 300 Pro League games, the emotional involvement of supporters is very limited. Almost as if they feel that they are embarrassed to make any noise. At North East Stars and now at Central F.C. we instigated a “cheering” section and by all accounts it added to the match experience. While, of course, some people may not like it, especially “away” supporters, you can see that the majority of spectators welcome it. While many still do not add their voices, they do clap along and their excitement and involvement in the game has increased. Most notable is the effect on the players and staff. We all agree that players need to become more professional and also that they need to be elevated to “stars” in order to influence younger players. Central F.C. players have confirmed that the supporters encourage them to perform better and work harder. Opposition teams try harder to silence the fans. Devorn Josling ran into the stands when he scored against Central to respond to supporters. W.Connections whole team sang a Central F.C. song back at the supporters after their penalty win. Coaches will tell you that the rhythm section interferes with their ability to get instructions to players. And who does the rhythm section help? If they play consistently, both teams benefit equally. At least if they only played when T&T were in possession or attacking it may provide some motivation. That said, I would always carry a rhythm section overseas as it would offset the home supporters chants, particularly in Europe where the rhythm would drive them nuts!
        Finally, I wonder if your comment comes from YOUR lack of appreciation and ignorance of Pro League football (and even National team games) in T&T. After all, you choose to live overseas and may only get to watch live Pro League matches once or twice per year? But to avoid my obvious interest in this subject, perhaps we should appeal for the opinions of regular Pro League supporters and those who attend National games?