Wolmer's Manning Cup defeat hurts 'Bibi' deeply
Ricardo Gardner says the defeat of his alma mater Wolmer's Boys to Jamaica College (JC) in the Manning Cup final was a bitter pill to swallow.
The former Jamaica captain could not disguise his disappointment as he lamented his former school squandering a 2-1 lead late in the game as a possible victory beckoned.
But Jamaica College, showing true championship mettle, rallied to tie the score at 2-2, thereby forcing the contest into extra time before an enthusiastic crowd at the National Stadium two Saturdays ago.
And the Old Hope Road-based school cruelly delivered the coup de grace
to end any hopes Wolmer's had of snatching Jamaica's most precious urban football title.
"It was very hard to take, especially knowing that we were leading 2-1 up to the last five minutes, but I guess JC showed that they wanted it more and they went out there and fought and got back into the game and were the better team towards the end," said Gardner, a former star at the Heroes Circle school.
The past Bolton Wanderers standout said the time was ripe for Wolmer's to quench their thirst, having not tasted victory since 1994. Gardner was an integral part of that team as a precocious 14-year-old.
"I think this time was really the chance we had to win the Manning Cup," Gardner summed it up.
He said even though the school, coached by Ludlow Bernard, retained their Walker Cup title, the consolation has not made the Manning Cup disappointment any less painful.
"I don't think it lessened the impact of missing out on the Manning Cup because we wanted it so much more, but it showed the character of these boys that they can go out there and put their disappointment behind them and come back and win the Walker Cup.
"We have to give them credit because it's hard to lose something that you trained all week for and then go out there and win another Cup," Gardner said, paying tribute to the character of the players.
Though he's not directly involved with the team, Gardner often takes time out of his hectic schedule to give motivational talks to the Wolmer's youngsters.
"I am not involved directly, but I try to have a chat with the players now and then... I also had a chat with them a couple of days before the final, so whenever I have the chance to go and share some of my experience with them, I go."
Gardner is currently the brand ambassador for the Samsung Cup, a football youth tournament being played among preparatory and primary schools from across the island.