Members of the legendary KC 1964 and 1965 triple champion football teams were honored at the recent KCOBA reunion in Jamaica in November 2009.
The recognition was both timely and well-deserved as this year marks the forty-fifth anniversary of the epic achievement of what is considered as not just the late George Thompson's best teams ever, but the 1964 team is widely recognized as the all-time best Jamaican schoolboy football team.
While some might argue that the 1971 Wolmers Manning Cup and the 1977 Clarendon College DaCosta teams are comparable, the 1964 KC team, ten of whom made the All-Manning team (a feat which has not, and likely will not, ever be repeated), remains the standard by which all others are judged.
"I find it incredible that after 45 years the KC 1964/65 Manning Cup team still generates so much interest and provides so many precious memories to so many people. I am blessed to have been a member of that historical team," says, Trevor "Jumpy" Harris, a clinical finisher, who played on both teams.
Comprised of the legends such as Harris, Tony Keyes, Neville Oxford, Franklin Morant and Lloyd McLean, both teams were unbeaten and won the Manning and Walker Cups along with the Oliver Shield, with the 1964 team having the added distinction of being the first Manning Cup team to be crowned triple champions. On their marauding path to the titles, the 1964 team demolished all before them, including a 10-1 drubbing of the highly touted, and previously unbeaten, Kingston Technical. So talented was the 1964 team, that in preparation for the Manning Cup season, they played and defeated several Division I teams, including a memorable 2-1 victory over the much-vaunted Leighton Duncan coached Cavaliers, which included eight national players.
In addition, a KC-dominated All Schools also drew 1-1 with the star-studded visiting Brazilian Under-21 team who had defeated all other Jamaican teams it played. "They were lucky to escape with the draw as Neville [Oxford] hit the post late in the game," says Harris.
"People see the end-product but not the work that went into preparing the team: the support we had from the KCOBs who turned up at trainings in the evenings and provided transportation; the sports-master, Donovan Davis, who brought in George T to coach the team; the physical and dental checks by the late Dr. Keith Young; and the support of the headmaster, the great Douglas Forest," says Ossie Bailey, the goal keeper of the 1964 team.
Beyond the football field, the players were true scholar-athletes as there was a strong emphasis from both the coach, George T, and the school's administration, that each member of the squad maintain good academic standards. As a result, several members of the team obtained scholarship opportunities and have gone on to have solid careers in a wide range of areas including, but not limited to, medicine, information technology, accounting, or as entrepreneurs.
Remarkably, after forty-five years, only one member of the 1964 and 1965 teams has passed on: Patrick "Patto" Kirwood, who died last year, and who, thankfully, was present at an award ceremony for the team put on by the New York Chapter a few years back.
"The team had a great atmosphere, we enjoyed being together, were disciplined and learned to delay gratification. To this day, we all remain friends and treasure the times when we all meet," observes Bailey.
The 1964 and 1965 teams will forever live on in the annals of both KC and Jamaican schoolboy football. They achieved a level of excellence and commitment to the game that raised the bar for all others. In so doing, they have made an invaluable contribution to the fabled history of KC and have made us as all proud and grateful to be associated with this tremendous achievement.
For a thorough first-hand account of the exploits of the team, the book, Purple Ball by the captain of the 1965 team, Dennis Johnson, is a must-read and is highly recommended.
MANNING CUP (1964)
KC 4 Ardenne 0
KC 10 Kingston Tech 1
KC 3 St. Jago 0
KC 6 Calabar 0
KC 1 STATS 0
KC 7 Camperdown 0
KC 3 JC 0
KC 1 Excelsior 0
KC 3 Wolmers 1
KC 6 Georges 0
KC 5 Munro1
KC 2 Munro 1
KC 7 Georges 0