St Anthony’s College head coach Nigel “Grovie” Grosvenor is crying foul at the results of this year’s first round draw for the 2016 Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Coca Cola Intercol tournament. Grosvenor called the fixtures unfair after St Anthony’s and SSFL Premier Division champions Shiva Boys Hindu College were matched against two other top tier teams for their opening games.
The St Anthony’s team, which placed fourth overall in the Premier Division, are the top-seeded team in Intercol’s North Zone, while Shiva Boys leads the South Zone. St Anthony’s are set to face either Queen’s Royal College or Fatima College, while Shiva Boys must face St Benedict’s College.
In an 29 October email to SSFL executives and school principals, Grovenor chastised the SSFL for the setup.
Coaches were told, he said, that teams would be seeded based on their position on the table after the league finishes. Coaches therefore “pushed their teams hard” to be among the top in their zones, since the higher a team ranked, the greater their chances of playing a lower Championship division team for their first game.
“So, how in the world did St Anthony’s end up first of the North schools and has to play the winner of QRC and Fatima— both Premier teams?” asked Grosvenor, in an email to the SSFL executive. “Imagine Shiva Boys, the National Champions, have to play St Benedict’s also of the Premier Division, and the other South teams have to play Championship teams. Now is that fair?”
Interestingly, during last year’s competition, the top performing zonal teams played against Championship opposition in the zonal first round. 2015 Intercol champions Naparima started their knockout quest with a 4-nil win against Championship team Princes Town West, while the Tigers also devoured Championship outfit Malick Secondary 5-nil in their first Intercol fixture last year.
Regardless of the schedule, when Intercol gets underway on Wednesday, 2 November, both powerhouse teams, Shiva Boys and St Anthony’s, will be among the favourites to take home the trophy.
The free-flowing Shiva, who lifted their maiden SSFL Premier Division crown last Wednesday, will be looking to add the prestigious knockout trophy to their 2016 earnings.
However, the Penal schoolboys will not have an easy road to success, as they must negotiate a very tricky South Zone before going on to the national stage. The top three Premier Division teams–Shiva, Presentation College (San Fernando) and Naparima College—all belong to the South Zone and the formidable Naps outfit will be eager to defend last year’s title.
Coach Hayden Ryan’s Shiva team were defeated by Naps at the semifinal stage of the South Zonal Intercol last year, and this year, armed with the Premier Division crown and a record points tally, Shiva will start their quest for a national double on 7 November.
Naps and Pres—both of whom finished below Shiva in the league table— will enter the quarterfinal stage of the South Zone Intercol against Championship opponents yet to be determined.
Angus Eve’s Naparima charges will take to the field on 9 November at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium against the winner of Moruga Secondary and Siparia West Secondary, while the Presentation Lions will square off 10 November at Lewis Street, San Fernando against the winners of the Princes Town West and Vessigny Secondary encounter.
Also on 9 November, Fyzabad Secondary, which placed seventh in the SSFL Premier Division, will play the winner of Pleasantville Secondary and Point Fortin East in the other South quarterfinal at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium.
Meanwhile, St Mary’s College, Trinity College Moka and East Mucurapo Secondary, all of whom finished in the Premier Division mid-table, are assured of facing Championship opposition in the North Zone quarters.
The quest to join the SSFL ‘top dogs’ for the 2017 season started on Friday for five Championship teams: Princes Town West, Trinity College East, Carapichaima East “Caps” Secondary, Speyside High and Malick Secondary.
And after playoff matches on Friday and Sunday, Speyside have taken the early lead, defeating Princes Town West and drawing with Trinity (East), capitalizing on home ground advantage. The Tobago boys are closely followed by P/Town, who got their first points of the five-team playoffs with a thumping 4-1 victory over Malick yesterday; Caps also sit on three points after their narrow 1-0 victory over Trinity (East) on Friday afternoon.
The top three teams at the end of the round robin Championship playoff will be promoted for the 2017 SSFL Premier Division season, and the trio of Speyside, Carapichaima and Trinity East are all trying to regain their Premier Division spots after being relegated last year, while P/Town and Malick are hoping to make their debut.
Malick, which once boasted the likes of attacker Gary Glasgow and playmakers Kerwin Jemmott and Arnold Dwarika in the 1990s, are fighting to regain past glory and will surely have their work cut out now if they want to make it to the SSFL top flight.
SSFL Championship Big 5 Playoff results
(Friday 28 October)
Speyside High 2 (Shaffie McKenzie 14, Kerri McDonald 34), P/Town West 1 (Brent Williams 2), Speyside;
Carapichaima East 1 (Theophilus Bourne); Trinity College East 0
Malick Secondary were on a bye.
(Sunday 30 October)
Speyside High 1 (Stephon Antoine), Trinity College East 1 (Nickel Orr) at Speyside;
P/Town West 4 (Anderson Peters 33 pen, Brent Williams 40, 56, Rushawn Murray 45 own goal), Malick Secondary 1 (Akeem Sealey 20) at Princes Town;
Carapichaima East were on a Bye.
Upcoming fixtures[All games are scheduled to kick off at 3:30pm]
(Tuesday 1 November)
Carapichaima East vs Princes Town West at Carapichaima;
Malick Secondary vs Speyside High at Patna Ground, Diego Martin;
Trinity College East are on a Bye.
(Friday 4 November)
Malick Secondary vs Carapichaima East at Patna Ground, Diego Martin;
Princes Town West vs Trinity College East at Princes Town;
Speyside High are on a Bye.
(Sunday 6 November)
Trinity College East vs Malick Secondary at Trincity;
Carapichaima East vs Speyside High at Carapichaima;
Princes Town West are on a Bye.
Upcoming Coca Cola Intercol 2016 Fixtures
(Wednesday 2 November)
Zonal Prelims [All games are scheduled to kick off at 3:30pm]
Tranquility Secondary vs Blanchisseuse Secondary, Fatima Ground;
Diego Martin North vs Diego Martin Central, QRC Ground;
QRC vs Fatima College at Diego Martin North;
Moruga Secondary vs Siparia West Secondary at Princes Town West;
Pleasantville Secondary vs Point Fortin East at Mahaica Oval.
(Thursday 3 November)
San Juan North vs Barataria South, 3:30pm, St George’s;
Holy Cross College vs Valencia Secondary, 3:30pm, El Dorado East.
Goodwood Secondary vs Scarborough Secondary, 3pm, Mt Pleasant;
Mason Hall Secondary vs Bishop’s HS (Tobago), 5pm, Mt Pleasant.
(Friday 4 November)
Presentation College (Chaguanas) vs Tabaquite Secondary, 3:30pm, Edinburgh 500;
Gasparillo Secondary vs Couva East Secondary, 3:30pm, Carapichaima East;
Chaguanas North vs Miracle Ministries, 3:30pm, Couva East.
(Monday 7 November)
Princes Town West vs Vessigny Secondary, 3pm, Irwin Park;
Shiva Boys HC vs St Benedict’s College, 5pm.
Trinity College Moka vs Tranquility Secondary/Blanchisseuse Secondary, 3:30pm, Fatima Ground;
East Mucurapo Secondary vs Diego Martin North/Diego Martin Central, 3:30pm, St Anthony’s Ground, Westmoorings.
Trinity College East vs Five Rivers Secondary, 3:30pm, El Dorado East;
St Augustine Secondary vs Toco Secondary, 3:30pm, Holy Cross.
Speyside High vs Pentecostal Light and Life, 3pm, Mt Pleasant;
Signal Hill Secondary vs Roxborough Secondary, 5pm, Mt Pleasant.
(Wednesday 9 November)
Fyzabad Secondary vs Pleasantville Secondary/Point Fortin East, 1:45pm, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;
Naparima College vs Moruga Secondary/Siparia West Secondary, 3:45pm, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium.
Malick Secondary vs Maple Leaf International, 3:30pm, QRC Ground;
St Anthony’s College vs QRC/Fatima College, 3:30pm, St Mary’s Ground.
(Thursday 10 November)
Presentation College (San Fernando) vs Princes Town West/Vessigny Secondary, 3:30pm, Lewis St, San Fernando.
(Saturday 12 November)
St Mary’s College vs Malick Secondary/Maple Leaf International, 3:30pm, Fatima Ground.