September 1976 marked the marvelous journey of Mark “Soupbone” Johnson and Maurice “Spider Cat” Borrows at Kingston College (KC). The gifted duo hailed from separate ends of Kingston, Mark, a native of the Portmore area was a member of the Wanderers football club while Maurice grew-up in Harbour View and developed his skills while playing at the Rocky Park Football club.
Their association seemed destined as the young lads embarked on their high school journey, miraculously placed in the same First Form (7th Grade). The two talented athletes groomed their skills on the soccer field at KC, sharing five remarkable years, one that would establish them as probably the “best one-two goalkeeper” combination in the school’s remarkable football history.
Maurice states, “Mark and I were quickly recognized as the top two players in our class in merely a couple weeks on the field. Though Mark played center forward, he revealed that cricket was his first love and presented himself as a carefree footballer who was just having fun. On the other hand, I was serious and passionate about football and establishing myself as the top goalkeeper in all First Forms.”
Mark responded by saying, “I was just having fun playing football, but I had a passion for cricket. Furthermore, Borrows came to KC as a goalkeeping prodigy. I was fortunate and I took full advantage of the opportunity.” As the season progressed, both Mark and Maurice held starring roles. Maurice was named the starting goalkeeper for the Pepsi (U-13) team, and Mark represented Kingston College cricket teams at Colts (U-15) and Sunlight (U-19) levels while still in First Form. Both athletes were high achievers, spectacular players on the field and scholars in the classroom. By the end of their First Form year, the student body and the Physical Education (PE) teachers assessed them to be the future stars of the football and cricket teams respectively.
Their Second Form year (1977-1978) was much the same as the former. Johnson continued to represent KC at both the Colts and Sunlight levels and Borrows sustained the goalkeeper post. This was also the year Maurice joined Mark as a member of the Colts Cricket team.
Maurice Borrows’ breakout year in football began in his Third Form year (1978-1979). In the summer of 1978, he was invited to try-out for the Manning Cup (U-19) team by legendary coach, George Thompson. His goalkeeping skills had improved tremendously by the beginning of the school year such that his teammates predicted he would be selected to represent Kingston College at both the Colts and Manning Cup level that year. The hype from his teammates boosted Borrows’ confidence forcing him into a duel with some of the KC power kickers stating, “they cannot score on me, even if shooting from inside the 18-yard box.” Unfortunately, on the last day of training, just before school reopened, Maurice fractured his wrist defending a close range shot by powerful forward Roderick Senior.
During this period Borrows was named Captain of the KC Colts team. The Kingston College energetic group of fifteen-year old stars made it to the 1978 Colt Football finals after going undefeated in group play. As the team prepared to play in the finals at the National Stadium, statistics revealed only two goals were scored on KC all season which included a defender’s own goal making them the favorites. The team faced great disappointment when they learned of their disqualification from the competition, due to one of their reserve players being over the required age limit. This group of footballers would form the core of KC’s triumph in the 1981 football season.
Maurice took solace in joining Mark “Soupbone” Johnson and other young stars representing KC in Colts cricket. Mark established himself as one of the best wicket keeper-batsman in Sunlight cricket. The future was bright for both as they transitioned from KC’s Melbourne campus to Clovelly Park at North Street. Their hopes and aspirations were set on becoming stars for Kingston College in their respective sports.
By their Fourth Form year (10th Grade) 1979-80, Maurice Borrows had established himself as a promising goalkeeper. All his hard work had paid off as he was selected to represent KC on the 1979-80 Manning Cup team led by Michael “Skipper” Clark. To this point Mark had not played as a goalkeeper at KC but he was quietly representing his community in Passage Fort, Portmore and was known by many as a talented two sports star. He represented KC in the Sunlight Cup cricket competition playing with the likes of Marlon Tucker, Robert Haynes, and Wayne Lewis; all went on to represent Jamaica in Shell Shield Cricket. Haynes went on to represent the West Indies briefly as a right arm leg spin bowler and big hitting left hand batsman. Mark played on his first championship schoolboy cricket team as KC began its domination winning the Sunlight Cup (Kingston Metropolitan area champions), the Tapping Cup (30-Over knock out competition for Kingston Metropolitan area) and the Spaulding Cup (Jamaica Schoolboy cricket champions) in the 1979-80 school year. KC repeated this feat in the 1980-81 season.
No longer labeled aspiring young athletes, Johnson and Borrows began their 1980-1981 school year as the big boys on campus. Now Fifth Formers, their drive, determination, love and passion for sport groomed them into skilled players and transformed them from little boys to popular student-athletes and young men destined for fame and glory. They carved out their niche in KC sports history. It was that same year the Kingston College Old Boys Association introduced and sponsored a new football competition called the D.P. Beckford Six-a-Side Tournament in honor of a former multi-sport star at KC in the 1950’s. Coach Thompson worked tirelessly to groom a young and talented group to represent Kingston College at the two-day tournament. The finals ended with KC defeating the star studded Camperdown High team four-zero (4-0) at the National Arena (on the Camperdown team was the talented Errol “Jah B” Blake and three other team members who had just returned from representing Jamaica in the Caribbean Under-19 Football tournament).
“Victory at last,” said Borrows after winning his first title for KC. He was very optimistic entering his second season on the Manning Cup team. As fate would have it, this was the start of a disappointing period for Maurice.
KC started the season as favorites to win the Manning Cup. They won their first two games and in the third game they faced their North Street rivals St. Georges College who had not beaten them in twenty years. KC performed poorly and lost by a 1-0 margin. The loss created strife within the team, resulting in an altercation between Borrows and his central defender during training. The snowball effect was a second consecutive loss, this time to Jamaica College. Mark Johnson was brought in to replace the previously reserved goalkeeper. The discord continued to escalate between Borrows and his central defender in their next game, Borrows became frustrated and lost faith in the team and himself. To calm the situation, Coach Thompson decided to switch goalkeepers at half-time, replacing Borrows with Johnson as the KC slide continued, losing their third straight game to Meadowbrook High.
The following day, Borrows returned his jersey to coach Thompson, advising him he was quitting the team. Coach Thompson replied, “If you quit now, you will quit later in life whenever you are faced with a challenge.” This made Borrows think as he walked away from the coach’s office… struggling with his emotions and the series of events, Borrows was forced to reflect on the schools motto “The Brave May Fall But Never Yield.” Maurice Borrows made a life changing decision and remained on the team, where he finished the season on the bench.
Kingston College started the 1981-1982 season as favorites and they did not disappoint winning the Manning Cup and Olivier Shield trophies, (symbol of the high school football champions of Jamaica). Though Johnson and Borrows respected each other, on the field they became rivals – competing in friendly and fierce battles, each fighting for the honor and title of top goalkeeper. Mark regained his starting spot and performed brilliantly in goal as KC won the Manning Cup and Olivier Shield trophies. Johnson was selected as an all-star to represent the All Manning Team.
Johnson finished the1981 year as the most outstanding athlete at KC and possibly in all of Jamaica. He had not only played on a winning Manning Cup and Olivier Shield teams but also captained KC to victory in the Sunlight Cup cricket competition and the Spaulding Cup competition adding to his amazing cache of victories in schoolboy cricket bringing his total number of winning cricket trophies to eight (8). Thus he made his mark and left Kingston College as a legendary athlete in both cricket and football.
The 1982-1983 football season was fast approaching. Still disappointed from the previous year when he was cut from his position as starting goalkeeper, Borrows struggled with the decision to return to KC to complete Sixth-Form or to waive his final high school year and attend the University of Technology (formerly C.A.S.T.). After much thought, he informed Coach Thompson of his decision to return and complete his final year at Kingston College.
The year (1982-1983) KC was the defending high school football champion with only two players returning from the previous team. The opportunity presented itself and Borrows decided to salvage some lost pride and redeem himself. On a cool afternoon in November 1982, he lined up with the team, on the lush National Stadium turf in the Manning Cup finals with a young, inexperienced but courageous KC team facing a strong Camperdown team featuring nine returning players from the previous year’s team that drew 0-0 with the eventual champions, Kingston College in group play. This Camperdown team featured the likes of the late Peter “Jair” Cargill who represented Jamaica in the 1998 World Cup along with three other players that represented Jamaica shortly after leaving high school.
KC fought valiantly and courageously but lost by a 2-0 margin. Borrows achieved a personal goal as he was selected to represent the All Manning team. This was the first time that two different KC goalkeepers were selected on the All Manning team in consecutive years. He completed his KC athletic career playing his second year of Sunlight Cup cricket in 1983.
After leaving KC, Maurice attended the University of Technology (formerly C.A.S.T.) playing on their football team that went undefeated for three straight years (1983-1986) in the Inter-Collegiate Football competition in Jamaica and completed two tours of the Cayman Islands competing against their top club teams and the Cayman Islands’ National football team. He then migrated to the United States and after living in California for 22 years, Maurice relocated to Florida in 2012. He’s an active member of the Kingston College Old Boys Association and continues to give back to his Alma Mater. In his spare time Maurice coaches young goalkeepers for the Miramar United Football Club.
After leaving KC, Mark migrated to the USA and attended Brooklyn College where he continued his exploits in goal. He resumed playing cricket in 1991 and played for the United States National Team from 2001 thru 2009. He was a member of the USA coaching staff that toured with the team to Dubai and Canada in 2011.