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Dear Editor: Spider-Man was simply the best to behold! Corneal, please keep your wet blanket

“Spidey, to whom you were paying homage, is merely laying claim to being the originator of the ‘pat down’ and other aspects of his goalkeeping style that made him a household name among football enthusiasts.

“But, boy oh boy, here comes Mr Corneal with the proverbial memory of an elephant, pure as the driven snow, and rains on Spidey’s parade.”

The following Letter to the Editor, which takes issue with at least one aspect of Roneil Walcott’s recent article on Earl “Spider-Man” Carter, was submitted to Wired868 by a former Trinidad and Tobago international player and teammate of Carter’s on condition of anonymity:

Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Earl Carter smiles while at the famous New York Cosmos in 1979.

I’m writing to give my perspective on your recent article, headlined “The legacy of The Spider-Man: How ESPN got it wrong.”

I felt that the article, although well-intended, morphed from its intended premise and became somehow unflattering to the Spider-Man. As a life-long friend and teammate, I feel compelled to respond to some questionable statements made. In this case, Mr Alvin Corneal was the producer of these statements. Your staff writer seemed oblivious to the bait-‘n-switch style of Mr Corneal’s (AC) well-articulated but often inaccurate comments. As a result, there were no follow-up questions.

Spidey, to whom you were paying homage, is merely laying claim to being the originator of the “pat down” and other aspects of his goalkeeping style that made him a household name among football enthusiasts. Then suddenly your article becomes “The Word according to AC.”

Every compliment he offers on the one hand, he retracts with the other. Mr Eddie Hart and Mr Edgar Vidale played in AC’s era and neither denied Spidey his due. But, boy oh boy, here comes Mr Corneal with the proverbial memory of an elephant, pure as the driven snow, and rains on Spidey’s parade.

Really, Alvin?

Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago player and coach Alvin Corneal (centre) is flanked by Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer (left) and Brazil icon Pelé.

Now, I’m not old enough to have seen Mr Figueroux, a custodian for the Red, White and Black as well but, as a student of the game, I know that that era, in terms of finishing, was about shooting to peel the paint off the framework. Could it be that Mr Corneal is confusing mishandling the ball with the “pat down” technique? Why didn’t Hart or Vidale corroborate AC’s claim?

It was clearly a part of Spidey’s style’—much like his signature cat- springs and side-springs or his determination to break the mould and dominate the 18-yard box and not just the six-yard one as was customary of goalkeepers. People came from far and wide to be entertained by a player who wasn’t guaranteed to touch the ball much, depending on the opponent. I don’t recall too many leaving disappointed.

Even on Spider-Man’s distribution Mr Corneal gives praise for his hands and diminishes him or dare I say disses his foot skills as 1:3 pass/connect ratio.

Really, Alvin?

Many years ago, I was witness to a simple event that turned into something phenomenal. Spider-Man volunteered to entertain about 100 kids while they waited for a school bus to make a three-mile round trip to drop off and pick up a busload of other kids. With trademark Spidey bravado, he offered to juggle the ball, using feet only and with no drops until the bus returned. Even a staff of other pros doubted that he could do that.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Earl “Spiderman” Carter (right) braces for a United States effort while teammates Paul Elliot-Allen (left) and Brian Williams watch on during the 1990 World Cup qualifying series.Trinidad

Well, the bus made the round trip and Spidey was in the same spot juggling (without a drop!) to a raucous round of applause from all who were present.

I tell this story because, if you look under the hood of AC’s comments, you will find it very difficult to believe that said player can’t go three for three playing passes out to full-backs and midfielders, a rudimentary play for any goalkeeper.

By way of comparison, I recently saw a documentary on Lev Yashin, the great Russian goalkeeper of the 1950s and 60’s. There was no mention of other greats like a Gordon Banks et al; there was only homage to The Black Panther of Russian football. Can’t we do the same for our own?

One can infer from your article that our man Spidey is seeking credit for what he believes he brought to the goalkeeping position. The resulting comments made would lend themselves to the belief that he was anointing himself the best goalkeeper ever. That’s debatable. But I’m willing to scream from the mountaintop that Earl “Spider-Man” Carter is the most flamboyant goalkeeper to grace the field for the Red, White and Black—period!

To be granted what he wants from FIFA will never happen so long as there remain questions and dissenting voices in our midst.

How sweet it would be to see a Trinbagonian given credit for being the originator of one small part in the evolution of this beautiful game.

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7 comments

  1. Hannibal Najjar

    There should be no problem in making any comment about anyone, Earl Carter being the focus of attention here. If Alvin Corneal said that his foot distribution accuracy was 1-3, could he produce any set of statistics to verify this? That may be an impossibility since we never kept stats then. But, coaches know their players and Alvin was an astute and very formidable coach and I had the pleasure of having him coach me at St. Mary’s and Maple, and have had many a discussion thereafter on tactics and strategies and he deserves the right to make his comments. I played for Alvin in Maple with Carter and I wrote some of my thoughts as his teammate in this Wired forum and they rate my colleague very highly. Note, I wrote from my memory as Carter’s teammate but my writing also reflects my point-of-view, from a coach’s mind. Earl and I played in more than just Maple (under Alvin) and though I cannot refute Alvin’s “facts”, I never felt that that was ever a problem for Carter since he was able to do with his hand all that the teams needed. If Messi can score penalties with his left foot far better than with his right, why should he kick with his right?

  2. “Brow”go d nod over Spiderman against d US look what happened Brow had “sun in he eye”problems.

  3. AND HE ALSO PLAYED FOR NEW YORK COSMOS WITH PELE AND FRANZ BECKENBUER IN THE NORTH AMERICAN SOCCER LEAGUE.

  4. Oh Corneal , if it were your son , yeah that would have changed your memory !

  5. give spiderman a chance he was very good during his time and he was enjoyable let mr Carter shine

  6. In other words…Corneal please siddung and shuddup

  7. Just the sobriquet “spider man”, is enough for me to concur that this goalkeeper was extraordinary.