It was a Trinidad and Tobago double special when the men from the twin-island republic captured both the Over-40 and 50 titles at the annual Barbados International Masters Football Festival played yesterday at Holders Polo Club, St James.
The four-day tournament now in its 22nd year concluded in the presence of a large crowd that took up every vantage point around the ground to witness the premier Over-40 masters final that ended 4-0 in favour of Trinidad and Tobago side Era against local side Bayland.
Era took home the winning prize of a trophy and BDS$2,500 in what can be described as a master class performance from the men in blue, one of the seven participating teams from Trinidad.
Bayland masters were first to shake the nets when a leading ball found former Barbados national captain John ‘Nobby’ Parris inside the six-yard box for the expected kill but center referee Norman Greaves called an infringement and the goal was disallowed.
The men in orange were in disbelief and spent a few minutes questioning ‘how’ but it was a call they had to live with as the man with the whistle had the final word. Bayland never recovered, they looked disorganised at the back and Era’s attack led by former English Premier League striker, Earl ‘The Flea’ Jean along with most valuable player Trevor Nottingham, exposed the opposition’s defensive weaknesses and pounced on their vulnerability.
Having exited the quarterfinal round last year, Era returned with a determination to lift the trophy starting with a goal from their utility man Marlon Harewood in the 29th minute, in fact, it was in the final minute before half-time.
A flighted ball found the left foot of Harewood who seized the moment and delivered a spectacular bicycle kick that flew past the right outstretched gloves of former Barbados number one goalkeeper Morrison Taylor and into the back of the nets. That was definitely the goal of the final and the crowd celebrated with exuberant cheers.
A minute and a half into the second half, Era masters applied early pressure and it was just a matter of time before they increased that lead because Bayland’s defensive third really had a difficult time keeping them quiet.
Goal number two did eventually come off a wonderful set play when Harewood took a 30-yard free kick that found the forehead of Mark Moss for what was a bullet-like header that flew past keeper Taylor in the 43rd minute.
Five minutes later and the party continued when none other than the short man at five feet, Earl Jean of St Lucia with an attacking play inside the box that earned him a well-deserved goal in the 50th minute.
Then to sprinkle some sugar on the cake, Roger Henry dribbled up the left past two defenders, faked and left them both for dead inside the six-yard box before hammering one into the back of the nets.
Speaking with Barbados TODAY, Harewood who scored the opening goal for Era said: “We always had a hurdle not being able to get past the quarterfinal stage and this year we put all the work back home and came here and made every effort to win.
“This year we throw a barbecue, boat ride, plus we played games as a team and we work for one another and as you see here today we scored four goals…. From since the start of this year’s competition we have been scoring first and we always want to set that standard by going out there and pushing the team and scoring a lot of goals.”
In the Over-50 final, defending champions, Xmen repeated as kings for the second consecutive year, defeating Pele Masters 5-2 on penalties. Toronto Football Club of Friends won the Over-50 plate final 2-0 against Carlton. Meanwhile, for the Over-40 plate final, Vilet Tour defeated Gall Hill 3-1 to walk away with top honours.