Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive’s Eric White

TERRIFIC TRIO: Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive’s Eric White, left, Emmerson Dubisson, centre, and Ian Clauzel at the Queen’s Park Oval in a 1978 InterCol match against Tranquillity Secondary.

The College’s Football League took a turn in 1978 and never looked back.

Gone were the glory days of a St Mary’s – Queen’s Royal College InterCol final in the North Zone, now there were two new kids on the block — Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive and John Donaldson Technical Institute (John D).

Throw into the mix a diminutive Rastafarian by the name of Ian Clauzel, the Mucurapo striker whose skill was bamboozling defenders nationwide and taking the country by storm. The masses soon dubbed him “the Dread Dribbler.”

As Clauzel played, his image grew. His skill and shock of locks were embraced by the working class but there were also many who frowned upon his grooming.

Today, a mellow Clauzel reflects, “I was a Rastafarian. I wasn’t into the negativity. My hair wasn’t playing football. People wanted me to cut my hair but it was the same football I was going to play.

Describing his style, he explains, “I had something psychological before a game. I would play it in my head … before and after. I would study a game and be one step ahead. I had confidence too, I would run and change directions.” He continues: “I feared no player on the field. I would carry a ball to the player. My overconfidence broke their confidence. I would go past them and then change direction. I would turn away from them and then turn back to them.” In addition, he notes, “I would run with the ball between my legs. I would show them the ball and then not show them and my shoulders would be dipping,” he laughs.

To his surprise, a young Russell Latapy had told him in the eighties that he had patterned his style from his.

In addition to Clauzel, the Mucurapo team was a talented bunch with midfielder Emmerson Dubisson and striker Eric White amongst the best in the land.

John D was determined not to be the bridesmaids in the North Zone InterCol final. They had in their ranks captain, Alan “Peru” Anderson and defender Brent Cumberbatch amongst others.

In front of a sold-out Queen’s Park Oval, the “Dread Dribbler,” showed his class in the first half, drawing first blood for Mucurapo. “John D attacked, my goalkeeper kicked it out to just on the half line. I was facing him and made a half a turn on my right foot and hit it with my left. The goalkeeper did not move. He only dived after the ball went in.”

Dale Hinds and Harmon Lucas countered for John D and a battling Mucurapo hit the post twice courtesy of Clauzel and White but in the end succumbed 2-1.

MSC captain, Novelle Gittens distinctly remembers the huge crowd that turned up for the Final. “In my opinion MSC brought the crowds back to InterCol football which was lacking in the past...I remember when Ian scored the first goal of the game – a beauty – seeing the packed Oval crowd go wild with enthusiasm. It was unbelievable. To this day people still remind me of the joy that the ’78 Mucurapo team gave to the masses.”

A disappointed Clauzel, admits, “They deserved to win. I scored one but they scored two. I accepted it. I did my best.”

The previous year, Clauzel and company had run roughshod over all opposition in the Championship Division, winning every game. They then beat League champs Trinity in the nationwide Barclay’s Knock Out tournament, 5-2. “I scored the last goal. We played all over them. They didn’t know what hit them,” Clauzel recalls.

Vice-captain, Kenneth Ola Vincent, recounts: “We were leading 3-0 at half time and it seemed like the game was over. The crowd hoisted Clauzel and Eric White on their shoulders...We couldn’t get to the locker room.”

Vincent has a distinct memory of Clauzel leaving four Trinity Defenders in his wake and scoring in an open net.

And Eric White, says of his partnership with the Dread Dribbler: “Clauzel and I developed a camaraderie. We just had to look at each other and we knew exactly where to collect the ball.

“He was witty. He could easily go through a defence undetected.”

White says the unavailability of MSC players due to national youth team training is what led to their failure to win the League.

Clauzel, quickly dusts off the compliments. “I am humble. I never thrived on it. I don’t like people to worship me...I was doing it for the masses.

“People came from all over for me to entertain them. I did it for them not for me. I accept things as they come. I was humble to the game.”

Former national Striker, Graeme Rodriguez was in awe of him. “Clauzel, knowingly or unknowingly, instilled fear in teams before even setting foot on the soccer field, he was that good! His skill at that time was at a level much higher than all the players in every game he played,” Rodriquez says.

He explains that despite the many greats to come out of the SSFL, “...there was something about Clauzel. He just had it, maybe it was his personality, his humility which in some way enhanced his soccer gifts on the field that gave him {that something} a little extra special that all the great ones have.”

Despite the awe he evoked, life would not be easy for Ian Clauzel.

With the Concacaf youth tournament at hand, the national team was in training minus Clauzel. The public surmised that the nation’s best player was being maligned for no other reason than his hairstyle.

He muses: “At school I was and still am a Rastafarian. This was new to the system.” He concludes that he was discriminated against for this reason. “But I was doing what I wanted to these guys” (the footballers on the field).

Editor’s note: Part two will appear in Tuesday’s Express

https://vbhoolai.wixsite.com/hail-caribbeansport/ian-clauzel-trinidad-football

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