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|MAPLE CELEBRATES 90TH ANNIVERSARY THIS SUNDAY|
|The club that stakes claim to being the first to have the distinction of having its entire forward line selected to represent T&T in football is celebrating the incredible feat of 90 years in existence.
Maple, known as the “Government”, will be celebrating its 90th anniversary with a dinner and awards function on May 9 at the Ken Galt Hall at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya, Tunapuna.
The club actually reached the milestone last year, having been founded in 1917 by a group of old boys from Queen’s Royal College and St Mary’s College, an article written by Guardian;s Gregory Trujillo stated.
Football was the main sporting activity in its early years but Maple went on to play cricket at the highest level not long after.
In addition, the club members were involved in other sporting disciplines such as table tennis, lawn tennis and billiards.
In earning countless championships and producing individual champions from time to time, the “Government” not only ruled but but molded its players into respectable individuals in the society.
The Maple forward line of J A R “Babsie” Daniel, Clifford A Roach, Sydney deCoteau, Ellis “Puss” Achong and Harold Achong lined up for T&T in 1927.
Of this famous group, Roach and “Puss” Achong showed their all-round ability by becoming international cricketers.
Maple has had the distinction of not only producing top sportsmen but had among its membership many nationals who have distinguished themselves in the academic field both at home and abroad.
Listed among these are Dr Aldwyn G Francis, many times Maple president and also head of the national football and cricket associations; Victor Bruce, the first governor of the Central Bank, and Sir Hugh Wooding, the first local Chief Justice.
In addition, there were prominent public fighures as Sir Courtnay Hannays (legal luminary), Ainsworth Harewood (another Central Bank Governor) and Professor Courtney Bartholomew, internationally recognised HIV consultant.
Apart from Roach, who was the first centurion and double centurion of West Indian cricket, listed among the Maplenites who became national heroes were West Indies fast bowlers, Prior Jones and Lance Pierre.
Also among the elite group were West Indies wicketkeeper Ralph Legall, Andy Ganteaume (he played only one Test match for WI), who could lay claim to the highest Test average with his score of 112, slow bowler Ellis “Puss” Achong, who is the only Test player of Chinese heritage, and Ollie Corbie.
In football, 20 years after Maple became the first club to have its entire forward line play for T&T, arch rivals Malvern duplicated the feat.
Maple did not only produce great forwards, but also exciting and talented midfielders.
At one time midfielders Conrad Braithwaite, Allan Joseph and Noel Winn lined up together to play for T&T, thus creating another record for the men in maroon and gold (old).
In 1965, another Maple midfielder Sedley Joseph, the brother of Allan, was elected captain of T&T’s first World Cup squad.
Also included in that World Cup side were Maplenites, goalkeeper Lincoln “Tiger” Phillips (now Technical Director of football in T&T), midfielder Kenny Furlonge, defender Tyronne “Tank” de La Bastide and forwards Andy Aleong and Alvin Corneal.
Coach of that first World Cup team was Braithwaite.
Over the years, Sedley Joseph has been hailed as arguably T&T’s best ever football captain in the same way that Maple footballer (Sir) Matthew Nunes has been recognised as arguably T&T’s cleverest and best ever dribbler.
IN 2004, Sedley Joseph was presented with the FIFA Centennial Order of Merit, an honour which ushered him into the esteemed company of such football legends as Pele of Brazil, Platini of France and Maradonna of Argentina.
History will recall Maple as the club which twice won the football league championship for four consecutive years (1950 - ’53 under Allan Joseph and 1960 - ‘63 under brother Sedley Joseph).
Coincidentally, Braithwaite, who was a player in the 1950 - 1953 era, was the successful coach of the team over the 1960 - 1963 period.
Maple has the longest list of players who have represented T&T at football throughout the years, leading up to one of the current national goalkeepers Clayton Ince, who was a member of the club when he was first called to national duty.
At present, Maple has as its president 81-year-old Paul Regis, who was also a talented footballer-coach in his day.
Regis, who joined the club in 1946, was trainer of the national team from 1967 to 1975.
Among the oldies still alive are Carlton John (93), Allan Joseph (91), Ganteaume (86) and Tim Joseph (86).
Although not actively involved in cricket, the legacy of Maple is still alive in football as the club has a team competing in the Northern Football Association.
That team will begin training sessions for the coming season under coach Ralph Bartholo on March 18.
Any record of football in T&T would be incomplete if the name Maple is not mentioned.