'It's not the same'

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Picture Picture

There was an empty feeling not just inside Joscelyn Richards, but the Edward Seaga Sports Complex as well on Sunday, as it was the first time in many years that a national premier league game was being played without the presence of the former prime minister of Jamaica, the late Edward Seaga.

There are many substances, processes, behaviours and activities that people use to try to fill the emptiness, but for Richards, more popularly known as “Richie”, there is nothing that can be done to fill that void left by the passing of former Tivoli Gardens Sports Club chairman.

For the first time in 31 years, Richie, who is a police sergeant and worked as Seaga's bodyguard and by extension in charge of the club's security, attended a match on the club's complex without Seaga's presence. He died on May 28.

“We are trying to cope, but without Mr Seaga it will take some time to adjust because Mr Seaga was like a father and most of the times he would always make things happen, even when it seems he is not doing anything,” Richards reflected.

The club's players and officials all wore tops with a picture of Seaga etched on their left sleeves in memory of the man who was elected Member of Parliament for Kingston Western in 1962 and served for 43 years.

“He will be sadly missed,” said Richards, as the smile suddenly disappeared from his face.

“But we are trying to see how best we can fit in that big shoe. Not one person but a group of us have to try to fit in it. No one person can fit in that shoe because his shoe was more than size 100,” as he strained to explain the enormity at hand to replace Jamaica's fifth prime minister.

Just like Seaga's ever presence at the complex, spectators entering the premises must encounter Richie either at the main gate, the VIP section or at the perimeters of the field.

His strong, powerful voice can be heard echoing around the complex for one reason or the other, and his commands are normally adhered to.

“I have been involved with Tivoli Gardens since 1988. I was one of the bodyguards for Mr Seaga until he passed. I am presently the security person for the team, whether travelling or at home. I take care of all security issues around the team and not the grounds and even in the community when it comes to players, I always check on their welfare and the necessary things,” explained Richards.

He continued: “I am originally from St Thomas but my grandmother is originally from this area and I spent some time with her, so I am an adopted person to this area, so I am well-respected in the community as a senior person that a lot of persons look up to as a strict disciplinarian. I command respect from both young and old.”

Richards might not have been around when Tivoli Gardens won their first premier league title in 1983, but he was around when they won in 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2011 and he is hoping after a relatively poor season last year, they can turn it around for the “boss”.

“I have seen some experience and some youth and I am expecting Tivoli to be Tivoli — fighting — and we will try to win this one for Mr Seaga. We cannot let him down because he is a proud man and we don't want him to feel any way out of place,” ended Richards.