“!Y muera Trinidad!”
T&T lost the football war at the Hasely Crawford Stadium last night but the local picongers were in fine fettle. The visitors won only the last exchange which came as the final whistle sounded.
The score was Mexico 1, Trinidad 0, leading to the sarcastic first comment from a red-clad Soca Warriors fan. The prompt winning response flew at him from the area specially reserved for the Latinos.
Similar repartee, incessant in the HCS, continued outside in the streets.
“Who win?” a motorist slowed, stuck his head out of the window and enquired.
“USA!” he was told, “Trump!” And the explanation came as he drove off, “Yuh eh see how good the Mexican wall wuk whole night?”
I’ll come back to the picong later. For now, as a serious-faced assistant coach comes up into the stand, it’s time for a roll call.
Serious-faced? Of course! It’s Stern John.
PM Rowley? Present!
National Security? Present!
Tourism? Absent! (She must be shame fuh what she do TDC).
Education? Present! And Faris and I were also present on Friday.
The AG? No answer. Faris Al-Rawi and Gary “Motor Mouth” Griffith are deep in earnest conversation behind National Security’s back. Maybe we’ll hear about a reshuffle in Thursday’s post-Cabinet news conference?
Or maybe there’s more in the mortar than just merely a reshuffle. Down below, slumming in the unpadded seats, perhaps not feeling safe around any Rottweiller, is Louis Lee Sing. He is in animated discussion with Selwyn Cudjoe. That goes on well past the second-half re-start.
Former UNC national security minister Carl Alfonso goes past. I look in vain for some other UNC person until I remember that they don’t support anything that’s good for the naytion.
The Stadium at 6.45pm was a sea of red. But it was the Dead Sea. T&T simply wasn’t feelin it at all today. The maybe 15,000 nationals present sang the national anthem loudly and cheered lustily at its end. But they were still not feeling it. The vuvuzuela vendors might have taken me literally and gone to Venezuela; they were nowhere to be seen. Or heard.
MX Prime and his band tried to gee up the crowd but even they couldn’t; they were ultimately rejected.
“Vamos, vamos!” shouted the Mexicans, eager to get things on the way.
“Vamoose!” retorted Bullhorn, making a welcome re-appearance after his no-show on Friday.
I am sitting behind the teams and watching the Mexican coach. He is consistently making frantic signals. His hands are above his head one minute, slapping his thighs the next, at right angles to his body the next, describing circles in the air the next. If he is not into signing, he is certainly a nervous wreck!
Just as I am thinking that we cyar possibly lorse to a team coached by Rhoda Bharath, the eternal pantomime, Joevin Jones runs on to a loose ball and smashes it high into the Mexican net. I didn’t see a single red-clad figure still in his/her seat on the uncovered bleachers opposite me.
In fact, such was the eruption in the Hasely Crawford Stadium that the air traffic controllers in Piarco and the seismic people in UWI didn’t have to be watching TV or their instruments to know that T&T had scored… or so we all thought.
The important exception was the Jamaican referee, who imagined that he had seen some infringement of the rules.
“Way dat frigging referee from?” a voice asked above the din, “Panama or Honduras?”
It was the same voice that, when Cordell Cato was fouled right under the referee’s eyes, would ask exasperatedly in the second half, “Yuh nevah hear bout Hallmark or what, ref? No frigging cyard fuh dat?”
My own exasperation had already boiled over twice. Late in the first half, an early release from Jan-Michael Williams might have set Kenwyne Jones up with a possible one-on-one with his marker. JMW, I realized, never considers the option of releasing a deep ball early. I swore under my breath.
And early in the second half, KJ found himself in space and in range with the ball at his feet. He opted to pass.
“Oh (expletive deleted),” I heard myself exclaim aloud this time and saw the amazed expression on my wife’s face. “What yuh hoping for, the Presidential Suite? All yuh go get is a lil room!”
Mere minutes later, after a longish delay for an injury to Mexico’s #9, Raúl Jiménez – and what threatened to be a re-enactment of the 1910 outbreak of the Mexican Revolution in the middle of the field – the North Americans got their noses in front from a right-side corner.
Wishing to learn the identity of the scorer, an irate young man looked in the direction of the politicos seated on high behind us and none-too-politely enquired of Sport, “When allyuh go fix the @#$%$#@#$$#@ scoreboard, Darryl?”
I doubt Minister Smith heard him but the enquirer would probably have been ignored anyway. Still, I thought it was a question that needed to be asked, particularly as the dysfunctional PA system had worked only marginally better than on Friday.
With injury time winding down, T&T were awarded a free-kick just outside the Mexican area, It might have been the 93rd minute but for Bullhorn, a patriotic supporter if ever there was one, it was the eleventh hour. He thought he would make one last attempt to galvanise the now about 20,000 Red, White and Black supporters in the HCS. And with them the 11 Warriors still on the field.
But his spirited “Ohouohohohohouohohoh” fell on deaf ears moments before the free-kick crashed into the Mexican wall.
And that really was all she wrote on this disappointing Tuesday evening. when nothing went as it should.
Except the picong.