COLUMN – Hurtful BCL demise
Following is the second and final part of an edited feature address by yours truly at the annual awards ceremony of North Stars Cultural & Social Club at Crab Hill on July 3. Part 1 appeared in last Friday’s column.
Now rewind five years.
With clubs and schools gearing up for the 2010 local domestic season, the thought of the BCL not playing in the BCA Division 1 Championship after four decades led me down Memory Lane.
Once one of the most respected First division teams, BCL had joined two other “Bs” in Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP) and Bristol as the first three teams to be demoted in the historic promotion/relegation system introduced by the BCA in 2009.
The BCL, who competed at the First division level since 1969, finished the 2009 Caribbean Alliance Insurance sponsored Championship at the very bottom on 87 points. BDFSP picked up 91 points and Bristol 90.
BDFSP had gained Division 1 status in 2001 and Bristol, our friends from the neighbouring parish of St. Peter and for whom one Floyd Patrick, a member of North Stars, who is celebrating his 60th birthday today, represented as a tearaway fast bowler many years ago, got their first taste in 2007.
But the writing was on the wall for the BCL for a long time. It does take a sting to get some organisations cracking and perhaps the demotion of the BCL was a blessing in disguise. At least, so I thought, but they are still to return to the highest level of local competition and on the current path, I have doubts if they ever will again.
From 1969 when they first played in the BCA Division 1 championship, the BCL remained very competitive at that level and indeed in the Intermediate division, as well as the top limited overs competition, the Sagicor General Super Cup (known for many years as the Barbados Fire Cup), until a cruel twist of fate descended on my friends at Blenheim from the early 1990s.
With the likes of their most distinguished president Owen L. Estwick (no disrespect meant to the late Tony Hinds) and the fearsome West Indies fast bowler of the 1960s Charlie Griffith in the forefront, BCL won the Division 1 title for the first time in 1973 –– the same year they became the first club to capture the then three major BCA titles which included the Intermediate division and the 40-over-a-side Barbados Fire Cup.
BCL again won the First division Cup in 1976, sharing it with Police, and for good measure, they won four Fire Cup titles in the space of seven seasons, starting in 1981 before things went haywire.
In those days, it was a straight knockout unlike the significant change from 1995 when teams had the luxury of playing in zones on a round robin basis before the quarter-finalists etc. were determined.
It was a joy going to Blenheim or wherever BCL played to watch the likes of Ricky Skeete, standing up occasionally to the express pace of the late Sylvester Clarke, fellow fast bowlers Ezra Moseley and Franklyn Stephenson; the sharpness in the field of Richard Straker and Winston Herbert; the stubborn batting of Roy Alleyne; Noel Broomes with his left-arm spin as tight and effective as ever, and others like Tyrone “Babba” Knight, John Holder, Allison Johnson and late Tyrone Greenidge, later to be joined by the trio of Brathwaite brothers, Rommel, Adrian and Donville, Byron Morris and others who played key roles and who I am sure would forgive me for not calling their names.
On reflection, and as I delved into my treasured collection of Division 1 stats, at times I wondered if the 1987 season when BCL were “robbed” of the title on the final day by the goings-on at Bayfield where St. Catherine and Police revolutionised local club cricket with their bizarre declarations, didn’t lead to a downward trend.
BCL went into the last round as leaders on 36 points, Banks and Wanderers were joint second on 33, Police were fourth on 32. Two other teams – both without a chance of winning the title – Empire eighth on 22 and St. Catherine ninth on 21 – had a role to play in the final outcome.
BCL, under the captaincy of Noel Broomes, were playing against Empire at Bank Hall and Police were battling St. Catherine at Bayfield.
Now check this: Rain prevented a ball from being bowled on the first two days at Bayfield. Here were the scores at Bank Hall: Day 1, Empire 78; Day 2: BCL 145 for 4 declared, Empire 74 without loss. Day 3: Empire 208-4 declared, BCL 3-0. Match drawn. Points: BCL 3, Empire 1.
Reminder: At Bayfield: No play on the first two days. Then on the last day: Toss: Police. Check this now. St. Catherine 10-1 declared off one over. Police replied with 11-1 declared off one over as well. St Catherine 75 all out in 21.1 overs in their second innings and Police duly went on to win the match and the title, finishing on 75-5 in 11.2 overs.
The captains were Leslie Reifer and Delbert Griffith.
So Police captured the title with 40 points, BCL finished second on 39 and it led to an historic court battle, which resulted in Police being confirmed as champions. That was 28 years ago and I remember it like yesterday. I covered the game at Bank Hall and recalled a stunned BCL dressing room with Owen Linderson Estwick, as the guru of the BCL, expressing his great disappointment on radio.
Ever since then, it was a significantly downward trend for BCL at the Division 1 level until their demotion at the end of the 2009 season.
In 1988, they finished fifth with Noel Broomes again the captain, and they never ended higher since.
Truth is, research by yours truly shows the BCL with a woeful Division 1 record of playing a whopping 110 matches without a win between the last round of the 1995 season and the fifth round of 2004. That is unquestionably a record which no team wants but you must call a spade a spade.
Their last win before that awful record started was against Banks by five wickets at Blenheim in the 12th and penultimate series in 1995 under the captaincy of a guy named Terry Holder.
BCL did not win again before Series 6 of 2004 when they came from behind to triumph over BDFSP by seven wickets at Blenheim, with Randy Thomas as captain.
In that atrocious First division period, BCL finished last on three occasions and second from the bottom five times. And for the record, they also ended in the rock-cellar position in 1991 and 1992.
Now, hopefully, you can decipher why the BCL as a team are in the dumps, UWI are riding high and will continue to do so and North Stars ought to keep working on their youth programme to ensure the club makes an impact in BCA competitions.
I’ve been closely following the progress of North Stars in the BCA Sagicor General Shield and with one match remaining, you lead Zone H with 12 points –– that’s a 100 percent record. Good luck in the knockouts.
Long live the memory of your fallen members, long live North Stars.
Thank you. Good night.
Keith Holder is a veteran, award-winning freelance sports journalist, who has been covering local, regional and international cricket since 1980 as a writer and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1 (now Elite) championship for over three decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org). Holder is also the host of the cricket Talk Show, Mid Wicket, on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation 100.7 FM on Tuesday nights. Email: email@example.com.