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Road to France 1998 - Remembering the glory!

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  • Road to France 1998 - Remembering the glory!

    Road to France 1998 - Remembering the glory!
    published: Saturday | November 17, 2007

    The National Stadium was a sea of green and gold on November 16, 1997.

    Tym Glaser, Associate Editor - Sport
    IS IT really 10 years since Jamaica's Road To France campaign reached its apex at the National Stadium?

    Can it possibly be a decade since the Reggae Boyz galvanised a troubled nation and created history by holding mighty Mexico to a 0-0 draw, thus becoming the first English-speaking Caribbean nation to reach football's World Cup?

    In some ways that humid Sunday at 'The Office' feels just like yesterday. The throbbing pulsations of the packed gold-garbed crowd; the cheers for every goal scored by, of all teams, the United States which pushed El Salvador out of the race and Jamaica closer to the impossible dream; the chants of 'France, France, France, France' as the clock ticked down and it dawned on us all and that dreams do come true.

    In other ways, it seems light years away - buried at the back of the consciousness in a place marked 'better days'. As great as the feat of qualification was, it didn't launch Jamaican football in the stratosphere and it didn't change our lives.

    Horace Burrell
    The football federation has just been returned to the hands of the Road to France mastermind, Captain Horace Burrell, in a state of total disarray and with the national team ranked at an all-time low of 103 and the lustre well and truly worn off the Reggae Boyz brand.

    Jamaica partied heartily after that historic draw as then Prime Minister P.J. Patterson declared a public holiday the day after the match, but when the music stopped there was still life to live in a land of climbing murder rates and prices.

    One thing is certain though, the date November 16, 1997, is one of the most significant in Jamaica's history. It showed that with the right leadership, application and talent that 'likkle but tallawah' can go a long way and play with the big boys on the biggest stage.

    The final qualifying game against Mexico, led somewhat ironically by recently ousted technical director 'Bora' Milutinovic, was the campaign's zenith but what made it so special was the long march to actually get there; all the highs and lows along that unpredictable road.

    Burrell's dogged determination put the pieces in place while Brazilian technical director René Simoes remodelled a squad of, as he once put it, "performing seals" into a cohesive unit.

    The players, both home-grown and from England, bought into it all and started to believe and along that journey the mainstays became household names: skipper Warren 'Boopie' Barrett, Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore, Ian 'Pepe' Goodison, Durrent 'Tatty' Brown, Peter 'Jair' Cargill, Steven 'Shorty' Malcolm, Ricardo 'Bibi' Gardner, Linval 'Ruddie' Dixon and the three Brits who played such a key part of getting the campaign back on track when it appeared all was lost, Fitzroy Simpson, Paul Hall and Deon Burton.

    Sporting immortality
    Sadly, Cargill and Malcolm are no longer with us but they, like their squad mates, gained Jamaican sporting immortality along that Road.

    The campaign, as a whole, was supposed to launch the Jamaican players on to the world stage but only Gardner earned any contract of significant value with England's Bolton Wanderers, where he still plies his trade.

    Burrell's back at the helm now and it may be Jamaica's worst-kept secret that he wants to bring Simoes back on board to right the ship and sail for South Africa 2010.

    They are going to try and catch that lightning in a bottle again but lightning rarely strikes twice. As improbable as the 2010 dream seems now, who really believed we would reach France until that November afternoon? For every Burrell there were 100 naysayers along the way.

    So, maybe it can be done and the island can pack away its troubles for a day or two and celebrate again ... but it won't be the same as that magical day a decade ago.

    Feedback: tym.glaser@gleanerjm.com


    The memory still lingers Adrian Frater, News Editor

    WESTERN BUREAU: IT HAS been 10 years but former Reggae Boyz Warren Barrett, Aaron Lawrence, Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore and Paul 'Tegat' Davis still have difficulty explaining their emotions in the immediate moments following Jamaica's historic qualification for the 1998 World Cup in France.

    "Words cannot explain the feeling," said Lawrence, who kept goal in Jamaica's historic 2-1 against Japan in France. 'Tappa was running across the field with the flag (the Jamaican flag) and I was chasing him. I had tears in my eyes - even now I get a strange feeling when I think about it," he said.

    Barrett, who was first choice goalkeeper and captain of the 1998 team, said the entire qualifying campaign was an "unbelievable ride" which started in 1994 and culminated with Jamaica drawing with Mexico at the National Stadium to seal their place in France.

    The final whistle
    "When the final whistle sounded, I ran behind the goal - I hugged somebody ... it might have been one of the photographs," said Barrett, who now works with Air Jamaica but still find times to assist in the coaching of his alma mater Cornwall College. "I broke down in tears," continued Barrett. "I felt like a burden had been lifted off my shoulders ... we had accomplished our mission of taking Jamaica to the World Cup."

    For veteran striker Davis, who was not on the pitch in the Mexico game, it was a sense of accomplishment for him, having harboured the thought of Jamaica qualifying for the World Cup for many years.

    "Seeing it becoming a reality before my own eyes gave me an unbelievable feeling," said Davis, who is Jamaica's all-time leading goalscorer with 33 goals. "It was a joy to see people hugging and kissing in the stands and on the pitch as we celebrated as one Jamaican family."

    While acknowledging that he started out doubting that Jamaica would qualify for France, a now reflective Lawrence said that after listening daily to then national technical director René Simoes hammering it into their heads that they were good enough to qualify, he gradually started to believe.

    "We (the players) all began believing together that the coach knew what he was saying and that we were good enough to make it to the World Cup," said Lawrence, who is now a part of the Reno FC coaching staff. "The closer we got, the more we became convince that we were going to make it."

    The ride of a lifetime In reflecting on what he had earlier described as an "unbelievable ride", the soft-spoken Barrett said the situation in 1998 was tailor-made for qualification as when Simoes arrived, he found a united group of players who were anxious and ready to give the qualification campaign their best shot.

    "The spirit was very good as the nucleus of the team had been playing together since 1993," said Barrett. "Coach Simoes did not have to work on team spirit because we were a united bunch so he basically went straight into the other aspects of preparation." For Whitmore, who was voted Caribbean Footballer of the Year following his performance in France, the realisation that he was going to be playing in the World Cup was a 'Cloud Nine' experience for him. "The whole atmosphere was so wonderful that deep down I felt I had to do well ... I wanted to make the occasion special," said Whitmore, who made more than 130 appearances for Jamaica. "Scoring those two goals against Japan was special because many great players have appeared in two and three World Cups and have not scored and here I was scoring two goals in one game."

    I would do it again While he did not play in any games in France, the once prolific Davis, who is now a top-flight youth coach, considered the World Cup atmosphere as something he would relive over and over again.

    "France was more than football - it was about meeting fans from all over the world - exchanging shirts, thoughts and ideas," said Davis. "It was one amazing experience that I would want to relive again."

    While all four former players have had many and varied sporting experiences before and after the World Cup, they were all united in the view that the 'Road to France' remains the highlight of their careers. "It was one of those special moments, the dream of every player," said Whitmore. "Imagine a small country like Jamaica playing before a worldwide television audience of millions of people - unbelievable."
    Last edited by Karl; November 19, 2007, 11:44 AM.
    "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

  • #2
    Aaaaaaaahhh bwoy, what a day that was!!!!! Even now after so many years, my heart swells with pride and tears come to my eyes when I reminisce. It was a day when I got a glimpse of just how united and loving Jamaicans can be. I remember driving back to Spanish Town from the stadium and seeing people line the streets dancing, laughing and just enjoying life. It was the only time in my life in Jamaica when I felt utterly and completely safe. Can we ever recapture that feeling? History awaits us.
    Hey .. look at the bright side .... at least you're not a Liverpool fan! - Lazie 2/24/10 Paul Marin -19 is one thing, 20 is a whole other matter. It gets even worse if they win the UCL. *groan*. 05/18/2011.MU fans naah cough, but all a unuh a vomit?-Lazie 1/11/2015


    • #3
      What a day it was. Tappa Whitmore putting on a show, Artiste from Jimmy Cliff to Bounty Killer performing , people dropping like flies in the Stadium from drinking too much beer in the heat and pure niceness on the road.


      • #4
        Jah know mi remember that day, was just a teenager. I ran outside and run through the neighbourhood with the JA flag for bout a hour non-stop, look around and the whole neighbourhood was running with me. Empty mi old piggy bank and bought all the Clappaz it could get. That was pandemonium.


        • #5
          Mi first visit to France

          And twas mi fus time in France. Maybe mi fus time in the African continent shall be in the summer of 2010. If we qualify, mi will find a way to reach deh, and start saving from now!
          Winning means you're willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else - Vince Lombardi


          • #6
            For me personally I won the Air Jamaica Preditor in NYC for free flights and Hotel accomodation in 1997,mi determine to watch one Qualifier outside jamaica,my dream is for that Qualifier to be host in Montevideo(uruguay) or santiago Chile(wild card).


            • #7
              Wonderful memories but the writer was remiss.
              How could he not mention the name Walter "Blacka" Boyd. This player also played an outstanding role during the early to latter part of our qualifications. For that matter I'd like to also mention the following players who lent their talents to the cause:

              Altimont Butler; Tegat Davis; Hector Wright; Dean Sewell; Paul Young; Peter Isaacs; Cobra Gaynor; and Messam et al.
              Last edited by Farmah; November 18, 2007, 12:39 AM.
              "The contribution of forumites and others who visit shouldn’t be discounted, and offending people shouldn’t be the first thing on our minds. Most of us are educated and can do better." Mi bredrin Sass Jan. 29,2011


              • #8
                Steven Malcolm, Peter Cargill - their contribution will neve

                Steven Malcolm, Peter Cargill - their contribution will never be forgotten
                published: Sunday | November 18, 2007

                Mark Titus, Freelance Writer

                WESTERN BUREAU:
                When the annals of Jamaica's campaign in the 1998 World Cup are written, Steven 'Shorty' Malcolm and Peter 'Jair' Cargill are bound to take positions of prominence.

                Both players, known for their never-say-die attitude and passion for the game, were instrumental in Jamaica's qualification to the 1998 World Cup finals in France, as well as our on-the-field engagement in France during the World Cup, which saw us coming out 2-1 winners against Japan.

                Although most of the former Reggae Boyz from that era are around to celebrate the 10th anniversary of that historic occasion, Malcolm and Cargill are no longer with us.

                Malcolm was killed in a traffic accident on January 28, 2001, after he played his part in a pulsating draw against Bulgaria. A motor vehicle accident was also responsible for the untimely passing of Cargill on April 16, 2005.

                The absence of Malcolm, who was in the twilight of his career, and Cargill, who became a promising coach at the end of his playing days, has left a void in Jamaica's football. Nonetheless, their many admirers had nothing but good to say about them.

                "Stevie can be described as the corner stone of the Reggae Boyz programme," said Horace Reid, general secretary of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF). "He was one of the players who was an example both on and off the field, and his sudden departure from this life was a shock to the entire nation. And it is something that we still have not come to terms with."

                He described Cargill as a leader extraordinaire and a coach's dream, whose insight into and knowledge of the game benefited the entire team, as well as made him one of the brightest prospects as a coach after the end of his playing days.

                Echoing Reid's sentiments, former president of the JFF, Crenston Boxhill, described the former Camperdown High School star as a fearless player.

                "He will always be remembered as a fearless individual and was actually our brightest prospect as a coach. All the members of the team looked up to him."

                "Shorty had heart and was an exemplary player both on and off the field," said Boxhill of the player who had 68 caps for Jamaica. "He was someone that could be depended on to carry out in-structions that were given to him."
                Captain Horace Burrell, president of the JFF, remembered Cargill as a master of the arts, who had passion, precision and class, while Malcolm, who was a key player in the all-conquering Ruseas High School 1984-85 Dacosta Cup team, was described as a man with the heart of a lion.
                "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."


                • #9
                  Reggae Boyz's historic World Cup debut 'Twas a great day!'

                  Reggae Boyz's historic World Cup debut 'Twas a great day!'
                  published: Sunday | November 18, 2007
                  Daraine Luton, Sunday Gleaner reporter

                  Then Prime Minister P.J. Patterson is introduced to the Jamaican team before the match on November 16, 1997, by captain Warren Barrett. - File

                  It has been a long while since the heart of the nation has throbbed with the pulsating beat that brought the country together 10 years ago.
                  "Not even the Cricket World Cup was as powerful," a female football fan says.

                  Understandably, few moments in the life of Independent Jamaica can compare to Jamaica's 'Road to France' campaign.

                  On Friday, Jamaica celebrated 10 years of its historic qualification for the football World Cup in France. No other English-speaking Caribbean country had achieved the feat, which came on November 16, 1997 - the day the Reggae Boyz drew 0-0 with Mexico at 'The Office'.

                  Warren Barrett was the captain of the Reggae Boyz at the time.
                  "It was a historic occasion. That's how great it was for this nation. It is really hard to explain in words how special it was," Barrett tells The Sunday Gleaner.

                  Police records indicate that murders, while not vanishing in the glory days, took a nose dive. Two persons were murdered on qualification day and three the following day, in a year in which 1,038 persons were murdered in Jamaica.

                  "We united the nation. Everyone was one and it was such a great feeling," Barrett says.

                  "It was one of the most important days in my life. We had accomplished what few of us had dreamt about," the former custodian adds.

                  Over 35,000 persons crammed into the National Stadium for the game. Others watched on tele-vision at homes, from pubs, or by the streetside.
                  Marlon, a football fan, remem-bers the moment as if it were yesterday.
                  "I was at the Stadium and I could not hear the whistle. I didn't hear the final whistle. It was so noisy, it was special," the 25-year-old Kingstonian tells The Sunday Gleaner.

                  Immediately following Jamaica's qualification for the World Cup, then Prime Minister P.J. Patterson declared a public holiday for November 17. Jamaica also made a commemorative Reggae Ball for $9 million. (Its whereabouts is a mystery.)

                  Road to France
                  Captain Horace Burrell, who built the Road to France with the input of Brazilian coach René Simoes as technical director, says it was a most memorable day.
                  "Having heard the final whistle signalling the end of the game and realising that the score was nil-all and Jamaica had qualified for the first time for the World Cup finals in France in June, 1998, for a split second, I thought that I had travelled in a spacecraft and landed safely on the moon," Burrell recounts.

                  For Barrett too, the moment was magic.
                  "I remember people on the streets celebrating for almost the entire night in every town. It was just a great day for the nation. Everybody, irrespective of colour, race or class, came together," the man they called 'Boopie' recalls.

                  Sadly, two Reggae Boyz are not here celebrating the moment. Defender Stephen 'Shorty' Malcolm died in a motor vehicle accident on January 28, 2001. He had the sweat of national fight on his body, having hours before represented Jamaica in a friendly international against Bulgaria. He was heading home to Montego Bay, St. James.

                  Reggae Boyz current interim coach Theodore Whitmore was a passenger in that car, which was being driven by Malcolm.

                  Last year, another team member, Peter 'Jair' Cargill, also perished in a motor vehicle accident.

                  Barrett wishes they were here to celebrate the 10 years of qualification. "May God rest their souls. They do cross my mind very often. They were great servants of the national team and they were great friends, and I miss them dearly," he reminisces.
                  "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."


                  • #10
                    For those registered members - http://www.reggaeboyzsc.com/archived...Terms=Business
                    "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."