They are still talking about it in the offices, on the street corners, in the bars and every opportunity they get.
The 2017 finals of the St. Kitts Football Association (SKNFA) Premier Division – the Best of Three – is said to have been one of the most exciting, tense, energy sapping finals to watch, never mind the goal numbers. They don’t tell the whole story.
Two teams – FLOW 4G Cayon Rockets, defending champions and defending their pride, and Hobson Enterprises Garden Hotspurs showing talent but out in the wilderness for over a decade. Reaching the finals was a major achievement and they needed to make their mark and make a point to their fans as well as their non-supporters.
All of this background, anticipation and expectation showed on the field of play. From the first whistle blown by the referee, the tempo of the matches was set.
Intensely fast football, attack then defend, building plays down the flanks, up the middle and keeping those custodians busy.
The fans certainly more than got their money’s worth, as the saying goes, for in the packed stands and grounds, there was cheering for both teams, although Cayon supporters were louder. Then there was the advice from fans. If you can imagine it, they said it.
But while all that was going on, a less spoken about environment existed, because for young children, teenagers and adults, one couldn’t miss the aroma of hotdogs, pizza and fried chicken, or the peanut vendors who all made the football atmosphere just right.
Nevertheless, it was Cayon Rockets that stamped their authority on the first game, defeating Hotspurs 2-nil. Spurs had plans for a comeback in the second game, but it was not to be, and as the final whistle blew, they knew they went down with honor, because they fought a good fight – football speaking of course.
So with their pride in tact, Cayon went home in style by way of a victory motorcade.
But what did Coach George ‘Yellowman’ Isaac have to say about the team’s victory?
“Well, in the season, it was a little hard, because we played for all of the cups and never got one. But, one thing we always maintained was to stay focused and keep training right through the season. We kept saying, if we cannot get a cup, we must retain our championship,” Isaac explained.
Continuing, he said, “We went into the game with a positive mentality, a lot of confidence and making sure we did not give up early goals. We intended to stay firm, keep our shape and commit ourselves to the team and the fans.”
“We stuck to the plan and was successful.”
The responsibility of the shoulders of every team player might have been enormous.
On the other hand, Hotspurs Coach Alexis Richards is already looking toward 2018.
“All in all, it was a good season. There is disappointment being in several finals during the season and not being able to deliver here in the biggest final. We would have like to do better, but such is life,” he said.
Continuing, Richards said, “For now, we will take a break, then come back for next season, and come back hard. I believe next season, we will be winning more championships.”
Well, he has a plan.
But how do the SKNFA top officials feel about the year of competition and the ultimate finals.
SKNFA President Anthony Johnson was pleased with the way the season and the finals had gone.
He said, “I think it was an excellent Final Four and overall a great season. As I have said before, we had six teams fighting for four positions, and at the finals, everybody came in and did their best.”
Johnson continued, “The crowds came out. The organization on the whole I think was almost superb and, of course, there will always be room for improvement. I am very happy.”
The SKNFA president recognized the achievement of Cayon.
“Congratulations to 4G Cayon Rockets, because they have done an excellent job in defending their championship. It is not easy to defend a championship, and I believe that one has to give them all the credit in the world,” Johnson said.
But he did not forget Hotspurs and what they had achieved. “At the same time, commiserations to Hobson Enterprises Garden Hotspurs that fought a very good fight, but was not the best team when it came down to it,” he reflected.
And Johnson is already looking ahead. “We look forward to the 2017-2018 League, which we believe would be even better, based on all the plans that we have put together for that period and beyond,” he stated.
And General Secretary Stanley Jacobs was highly delighted in the delivery of top quality football competition. He said, “First and foremost, I congratulate both teams… for an excellent finals. Of course, special congratulations to FLOW 4G Cayon Rockets, the 2016-2017 Premier Division winner. All in all, we have had a very, very, very successful season.”
For him, the year provided opportunities to build upon. “Fan attendance at the gates was up this year. We are extremely happy about the finals. I believe we have laid the foundation for great things to come for football in St. Kitts and Nevis. We will continue to do our best to develop the game,” Jacobs said.