He cut the La Brea community field and ran minor league football in La Brea; preached monthly on family life in the La Brea Faith Pentecostal church; and was the glue that held together most of the teams.
A peacemaker, Larry Ruthven Joseph was laid to rest yesterday after a funeral at the La Brea recreation ground that he loved. Joseph was just 56 when he died. Married to wife Cheryl, he had three children Shimone, Shimon and Akil.
Yesterday’s ceremony began with Joseph’s body being brought into the venue by former Presentation College, United Petrotrin and “Strike Squad” teammates -- among them Philbert Jones, Brian Williams and Clayton Morris. Many tributes were made, with Joseph being described as a man of humility, good character, a devout Christian, family and community man.
Jones, uncle of former T&T skipper Kenwyne Jones, described Joseph as both brother and friend, while brought to tears was Morris, his friend, teammate and Petrotrin workmate of many years.
“He was a mentor that made the impossible possible,” Morris stated. “During my 35 years that I know him he demonstrated the characteristic that he was the better man.”
Prior to his burial, Joseph was celebrated on the Field of Dreams football television discussion programme, moderated by former national Steve David, and included among the guest Sean Cooper, Anthony Clarke, Jefferson George, Brian Williams and Dexter Cyrus.
“Everybody know Larry Joseph,“ said friend and former teammate Randolph Neptune. “You could walk through La Brea and ask anybody about Larry Joseph.”
“Larry has done so much for La Brea,” Neptune continued. “Larry run minor league in La Brea, the Sport Foundation, nurturing youth. From the moment you could walk, you could come and do football training with Larry.”
As an established T&T midfielder, Joseph was also a comforter to a young Dexter Cyrus, who would also go on to have an outstanding career at club and national team level. As a 20-year-old, Cyrus remembers nervously walking into a United Petrotrin club dressing room containing the majority of T&T national team starters, including Brian Williams, Clayton Morris, Dexter Francis, Anthony Rougier, Addaryl John, Anthony Sherwood, Philbert Jones and Peter Prosper, the bunch which won team of the year four or five times in seven seasons.
Cyrus remembers being starstruck, nervous and probably wondering if he was good enough to play with these guys.
“Larry would have put his hand on my shoulder and said ‘youth man, dem fellas is human being just like me and you. Yuh come here to play football, doh worry yuhself nah,’” Cyrus recalled. “And (that act) just take away all that tension. Just relax me. After that everything was good.”
Joseph was the person no one could say anything bad about noted both Cyrus and Williams. From a teenager, Joseph was a well-mannered Christian youth with a sense of humour. Joseph grew up in La Brea and after excelling with Point Fortin College’s ‘81 team, he was drafted into a Presentation College team after out-playing them in a match against his church team.
He excelled as the Presentation College team which once whipped a star-studded Signal Hill 5-0. Joseph was also prominent in the T&T senior national team, but unfortunately he vied for the same position as Russell Latapy, who went onto to ply with European teams such as Porto and Glasgow Rangers.
“The second best player I would have played with locally after Russell Latapy in terms of skill, would have been Larry Joseph,” noted Anthony Clarke, the former Presentation College and T&T national youth team goalkeeper. “I think the era of him being prominent on the national team wasn’t there because Russell was there.”
Although Joseph stood out as a midfield general in the mould of former Porto midfielder Latapy, he made a greater mark off the field as a mentor, administrator and family man and friend.
“Larry Joseph the man was even more phenomenal than Larry Joseph the player,” Clarke stated. “He was a real kicks man. Plenty people only saw Larry as this church boy, but Larry used to talk a lot of rubbish and make people laugh. He was a man of faith. he was a man of his community.”