Sport

Final frontier

Champs KC, JC cross swords for storied Walker Cup

BY HOWARD WALKER
Senior staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, November 07, 2017



Defending champions Kingston College (KC) and Jamaica College (JC) clash today in the much-anticipated final of the ISSA/FLOW Walker Cup inside the National Stadium at 5:00 pm.

KC, who blanked JC 2-0 in last year's edition to lift their first senior football title in 16 years, will start favourites for a record 10th lien on the Walker Cup, following their 2-0 win over JC in the Manning Cup quarter-final match on October 21.

KC and their North Street neighbours St George's College are the most successful schools, with nine titles each in the Walker Cup knockout. The competition started in 1961 and KC had their title triumphs in 1963, '64, '65, '70, '75, '77, '87, 2000 and 2016.

JC, the most successful school in the Manning Cup with 28 titles, have only won the Walker Cup surprisingly two times — 2009 and 2010.

The Walker Cup final pits together, without a doubt, the top-two corporate area schools in KC and JC — two schools rich in history and achievements and two schools looking for further glory.

The 228-year-old JC, which was formed in 1789 by one Charles Drax, has as its school crest two mythical yellow creatures called griffins, which are known for guarding treasures and priceless possessions. However, this time the Griffins, with their beady red eyes, will be trying to steal the Walker Cup from under the champion's nose.

The 92-year-old KC was formed in 1925, some 136 years after JC, and their crest bears a pineapple symbolising the field of labour and fruitfulness and interestingly a dog, the animal of loyalty, fidelity and watchfulness — and man's best friend will have to be at his alert best to repel the griffins.

With the mythical battles aside, the real face-off will be inside the National Stadium today.

The unbeaten KC have brushed aside all and sundry, winning 15 games while scoring 74 goals in a very dominant season so far. The Ludlow Bernard-coached unit has talent all-round and remain a formidable team.

Led by captain Javain Brown and Davian Shakes at the heart of the defence, KC have been tight all season, and along with wingbacks Casseam Priestly and Antoneil Mullings, they look impregnable.

The midfield is also strong with Fabian Grant, Nathan Thomas and Renato Campbell, while Manning Cup leading goalscorer Rashawn Mackinson, with 18 goals, will be key to KC's success along with flying wingers Ronaldo Robinson, Omar Thompson and Trayvone Reid.

Head coach Bernard, who won the Walker Cup twice before with Wolmer's Boys', will be seeking his fourth triumph and is confident of victory.

“It's going to be a difficult game, both physically and mentally, because Jamaica College is a very good aggregation and strategically, I know that they will be plotting to try and unrest the Walker Cup title away from us. Mentally and psychologically because, having defeated them this season, they certainly must be motivated to seek revenge,” said Bernard.

“But we are cognisant of all of that and are prepared for whatever is placed in front of us. We have ammunition that can contend with any opponent. Respectfully though, I think that the game will be a humdinger and we are seeking to come out on top,” he added.

Meanwhile JC, the most dominant schoolboy team in the last decade, once again seemed to have started slowly, but are peaking at the right time and will be dangerous contenders.

The “Dark Blues” from Old Hope Road have talent in the shape of Tyreek Magee, who is arguably one of the best, creative, schoolboy midfielders in the country. It will be interesting to see how he deals with KC's ball winner, midfielder Nathan “Kante” Thomas, who kept him quiet in their last meeting.

In addition, JC have within their ranks Norman Campbell, Shaniel Thomas, Tevin Rochester, Malik Howell, Saqlain Waul, and Gavin Thorpe. However, the backline has been depleted with the absence of the sure-footed Delverone Simpson, who picked up a red card in their 6-1 semi-final demolition of Calabar High.

JC Head Coach Miguel Coley, who knows how to win trophies, acknowledged that the final will be a peach of a game.

“It will be a tough game... it's a final and both teams have it all to go for. We are pretty confident that we can go out and win, but we are cognisant that it will be a tough game. It will be pretty much what a final will be like, but we are going out there prepared for 90 minutes or more and ensure that we win the championships for Jamaica College,” said Coley.

Coley, who has not won the Walker Cup title for JC while dominating other trophies, believes this year things will change.

“We always take all competitions seriously. However, we have not been able to win as many times, because of 14 finals we have won only two. But we are hoping that this year we can just go out there, execute, and win the championship,” he pointed out.

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