On Monday, December 7, it was jubilation for the entire KC fraternity as both the Under 14 and the Under 16 Football Teams were crowned Champions. 2015 marks three consecutive years that the Under 14 Team has won the title while the Under 16 ended a 20-year drought – having last won the title in 1995.
And, Tuesday, December 15, 2015 will long be remembered as the day that the purple icing decorated the Fortis Cake. Both teams met the winning rural area teams – Glenmuir and Munro – and were victorious. So our teams were not only crowned the 2015 ISSA urban area champions but also the All Island ISSA Under 14 and Under 16 Champions earning a total four trophies this season.
But as we celebrate, let us pause for a moment and take a look at the man behind the teams. Let us find out about and pay due respect to the coach - Raymond “Stampy” Watson.
Stampy, as he is affectionately called, entered Kingston College in 1986 and should have graduated in 1991 but his sojourn at KC was interrupted while in 5th form. He along with a group of boys were expelled by Major Cohen in 1991 after an incident in which Major Cohen was pelted with stones by some boys. While he holds no grudge against the institution, he still maintains his innocence and believes that he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
While at KC he trained with the football team, but never played in a competition. But was it that St. Mary’s College knew that he had some footballing skills why they quickly recruited him to play on its Manning Cup Team? Stampy turned up for his new school in September 1992 but on seeing the Manning Cup fixtures, he was troubled - Kingston College and St. Mary’s College were drawn in the same group. How could he do this to his beloved friends at KC- none of whom knew he was even at St. Mary’s College. Well, the day he got sight of the fixtures was his first and last day at St Mary’s College.
He sought employment and was introduced to the Business House Football Competition. This saw him returning to the game he loved. Soon after he was playing in the major and super leagues via the Greenwich Town Football Club. It was at the same club that he got his first stint into coaching as he was asked by Lloyd Hall to take charge of the under 15 programme.
In 2009, he was forced out of playing when he had to undergo double ankle surgery. But this provided him with an opportunity that he never saw coming – he was asked to take charge of the Greenwich Town senior team when the coach walked out in the middle of the league. Under his guidance the team won the major league competition.
He was inspired by Coach Nigel Webb of Lannaman’s Prep who gave him the opportunity to assist with that programme as well as Admiral Bailey who he would watch at training sessions.
In 2012, Derrick Banks, the manager of the KC Football Programme, invited him to KC. The invitation was extended twice and even though he jokingly told him he would give it a try, he made no efforts so to do. He only took Banks seriously when the invitation was extended for the third time. And, this time former Vice Principal, Mrs. Fairclough and her husband, Wayne, were influential in his decision making.
So, in 2013 he took charge of the Under 14 Team and was quite clear in his mind that he was only giving one year to KC. His first challenge came at the Roper Cup that year and his boys won their segment. He them moved into the preparation for the Under 14 fixtures. He was still adamant – he was giving back one year to KC and he communicated this to the principal and the boys. He told the boys they needed to win the game for him – as he was not going beyond the year. The nail-biting finals that went into penalty shoot-out saw his charge emerging winners over arch rival St. Georges. “I was encouraged by the boys and the Faircloughs to stay for another year,” he reflected.
Stampy went into the second year quite upbeat that the boys would have repeated the win and he expressed this to the Principal
They say the reward for hard work is more work so in 2014 – in absentia – he was appointed the coach of the Under 16 Team and he accepted the challenge to coach both teams. It was sweet victory for Stampy as the Under 14 Team made it two consecutive wins and while the Under 16 Team did not make it to the finals, it was undefeated during the championship..
After double wins with the Under 14 Team and an undefeated Under 16 Team, Stampy went into 2015 highly motivated and beaming with confidence. But the semifinal game for the Under 16 Team brought tears to his eyes – tears that he shed publicly as even though the team won, the many hiccups along the journey really choked his emotions.
Under Stampy’s guidance the teams have played 55 games unbeaten – 3 years as coach of the Under 14 and two years with the Under 16 – with a total of six trophies to their credit.
This is a man who could have carried the hurt and anger of the expulsion and distanced himself from KC but he has opted to do otherwise. Stampy has been giving back to KC, sometimes at the expense of his own business. He is not only a coach to the boys but also a mentor and that father figure that so many are missing. He has also supported many financially – paying school fees and assisting in other school-related expenses.
He loves what he is doing and he has the support of the principal, the parents and the respect of the boys. And, he does not stop at football as he was recruited – again in his absence – to be involved with the school’s track programme. And I must remind that these roles are voluntary.
When asked about future plans and whether he had an interest in coaching the senior team, he responded quite matter-of-factly “I have no appetite for coaching the Manning Cup team. I love what I am doing and will continue if it is the will of the Principal and the boys”
Asked about his greatest motivation going into 2016 – while repeating the wins in the urban and all-island competitions would be good and he expects nothing less - his greatest motivation would be to see KC winning the 2016 ISSA Boys Athletic Championship.
Stampy has demonstrated that he is a winner; he believes in winning. Now you may understand why he was drafted into the track programme. Yes! You guessed right – it’s because of his insatiable appetite to win – so look out Fortis as he seems to possess that magic wand that makes winning seem oh so easy.
The entire Fortis Fraternity congratulates you - Raymond “Stampy” Watson – for a job well executed.