Leslie Lucas died recently of complications caused by injury after having been knocked down by a car. Leslie will be remembered as a person but above all, as the goal keeper of the famous 1960’s KC football teams.
I remember Leslie at school not because of any special friendship, but because he was a KC boy and we shared that common Fortis bond. In addition to his football, he was a treble soloist in the Kingston College Chapel Choir. One Christmas concert, he was the soloist for a rendition of “Once in Royal David’s City” the clarity of the voice remains an inspirational memory.
He like many of the KC sportsmen was not boastful but was supremely confident, an attitude which is still misinterpreted by our rivals even today. Leslie was noted for his agility as he would snatch a ball from the “pigeon” or the “rat hole”. This agility was reminiscent of that of a cat or a leopard with the explosiveness, the accuracy and the graceful elegance with which it was executed.
We shared sixth form, he being on the arts side and I on the sciences. I remember an account of a Vere Technical KC Olivier Shied final, given by Mickey Vernon / Mouse Brown. Lucas from his vantage point as goal keeper asked for the ball to be passed to him, and he quickly rolled the ball to Mouse who took it up the field, passed it once to another player who passed it back for Mouse to score the winning goal at 2 love. The ball went from goal to goal with Leslie, Mickey Vernon, and another player being the only ones who touched the ball in scoring of that goal. No Vere player touched the ball.
Leslie was a particularly special human being because of a medical condition of which he was not aware until later in his adult life. We all knew him by his nick name “jawbone”. He had prominent jawbones because he had an anatomical anomaly in his brain. The brain produces a fluid which is secreted in cavities in the interior of the brain called the ventricles. This fluid passes through a narrow passage called the aqueduct of Sylvius on its way to the outside of the brain where it surrounds the brain and protects the brain from hitting the bony sides of the skull.
This explains why Leslie had such a large head and prominent jawbones. He was remarkable in that it did not affect his intellect nor his athletic abilities, in fact his goal keeping skills were outstanding. Later in life he had to have a shunt to relieve the obstruction and this may have had a role in the brain damage of his injury.
Leslie won a scholarship to university in USA where he did a double major, one being Industrial relations and was one of the first graduates of that program. Leslie returned to Jamaica and worked in the bauxite industry. In his later years I came to know him well as he would walk at Emancipation Park in the mornings and we often walked together sharing each other’s thoughts.
Characteristic of our sixth form, we argued and often held conflicting views.
He would walk with a stick about 18 inches long with something like a nail in the end. I asked the reason for the stick. He advised me that it was a banana stick, and that the nail at the end was to pierce the stalk of the fruit. Depending on the amount of water that came from the hole, the readiness of the fruit for reaping could be determined. He had learned the technique in Central America and taught it to banana farmers in eastern Jamaica.
In our ramblings we argued about many things. We argued about Barrack Obama’s strategy and Leslie’s view was that Obama should not try for bipartisan consensus but should ram home his views using the numerical advantage in both houses he had in the first half of his first term. He felt that the republicans would block every move to frustrate Obama. As history has shown Leslie was correct. He eventually moved to May Pen and we no longer enjoyed our morning walks and arguments. It was with great with shock I learned of his passing. Leslie spent his early boyhood as an altar boy at Kingston Parish Church so I know spiritually he had a good foundation. Leslie is survived by two sons. May is soul rest in peace.