Posted: 8/27/2009


           I only found out about the match a few hours earlier, but decided a quick trip to Sheffield was worth my while. It was a pretty low key affair with Trinidad &Tobago U20's playing at Bramall Lane against a Sheffield United XI.  Bramall Lane is the worlds oldest professional ground.

          The Soca Warriors are training all week at The Blades' Shirecliff Academy complex, which is actually nearer to cross town rivals Sheffield Wednesday, under their coach Zoran Vranes, a Serbian and former player with FK Partizan. He has been very successful in the Caribbean, having had a spell at tiny St. Vincent & The Grenadines, when they actually beat Trinidad. The match itself was quite entertaining. The Blades fielded a youth team coached by Gary Speed, but also had the experienced 33 year old Lee Hendrie, who was back on the pitch after being banned for 4 matches for misbehaving badly in the Championship play-offs in May.

        Of much more significance was the presence in Sheffield and indeed England, of controversial FIFA Vice-President Jack Warner, President of CONCACAF for the last 19 years, who will have great influence on deciding who hosts the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with USA and Russia being England's greatest threat.  The day before Warner was a visitor at the Coach and Horses, (Bright Finance Stadium) ground of the worlds first football club, Sheffield FC, where he met magistrate and former F.A. Chairman Geoff Thompson, and CLUB chairman Richard Tims, who presented him with a jersey, a framed copy of the original 1857 Sheffield Rules, and made him an honourary Life-Member.

        No doubt he watched TV in his hotel later that evening, and read the newspapers the next morning and cannot have missed the horrible scenes from inside and outside the Boleyn Grounds in East London, where West Ham United entertained South London rivals Millwall FC in a Carling Cup match. Anne Boleyn, who whose family lived nearby, was Henry VIII's second wife and was executed at the Tower of London. The death penalty is no longer an option in England, but hundreds of fans need to banned for life from ANY football ground, and the stadium closed to fans until the New Year.

      The Millwall thugs chanted racial at Carlton Cole and that club should also be banned from having fans at ANY away stadium. They ran riot at Hull City in January and I witnessed nasty scenes when they arriving at Elland Road for a match with Leeds United 18 months ago.  Carling Cup tickets are cheap, and no need to have a season ticket, and at a 7.45pm kick-off and cheap booze, the planned meetings of hooligans by text and emails was to be expected.

      There was fighting and pitch invasions-three times in 90 minutes. That's about the number of times Britain was invaded in  TWO THOUSAND YEARS !!!, apart from incursions by Scots fans at Wembley until the annual England/Scotland match was mercifully cancelled.

      Many years ago I covered a CONCACAF meeting at the national training centre in Mexico City, and found myself invited to lunch, and on the same table of the young 20-something Warner, then Honorary Secretary of the T&T F.A. and a schoolteacher by profession.  Then CONCACAF was controlled by the Mexican football mafia, but Chuck Blazer in New York managed to get Warner to win an election and take over-and the rest is history. Now the Trinidadian is possibly the second most powerful figure in world football. T&T will not make it to South Africa, with only one win in six matches in their 6 team CONCACAF Group.

       Anyway, the gates at The Lane were thrown open to fans and the match was end to end football with the Soca Warriors winning 2-1. Goals from Robert Primus and Jean-Luc Rochford for the visitors and the curiously named  Zeyn S-Latef for the hosts. His parentage is Swedish and Iraqui but is eligible to play for Poland !!

       There were big screen annoucements about 'BLADES UNITED AGAINST RACISM', and the Award Winning ' F.A. ENJOY THE MATCH' campaign. If only they could read in East and South London.