Rolling back the years at Celebrate Cayman exhibition match

Romeo Thomas (blue) and former Jamaica international Onandi Lowe hustle for the ball.

It was a showcase of skill on Saturday, 29 June, from some of the most popular names in Cayman football history as they were joined by their peers from Jamaica and other former professional stars.

Bringing them to the Truman Bodden Sports Complex was an exhibition match organised as part of the Celebrate Cayman weekend of festivities that culminated a yearlong commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Cayman Islands’ constitution.

In the true spirit of friendship, visiting players were mixed with their local counterparts on two teams, captained by former national players Lee Ramoon and Antonio Smith.

Prior to kick-off, Premier Alden McLaughlin made a ceremonial pass to Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness as a sign of solidarity between the neighbouring Caribbean countries that share deep, historic ties.

Premier Alden McLaughlin makes a ceremonial pass to Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Then it was showtime, as fans on hand were eager to see the stars of yesteryear mix it up on the pitch. The players, although well past their primes, didn’t want to disappoint. Fans cheered on the players, hoping from dramatic action and after a scoreless first half, there was a frenzy of seven goals with Ramoon’s side in red winning 4-3.

“Celebrating 60 years of our Constitution is a great thing and also to have the visiting players participate with us,” Ramoon said, adding that it was a pleasure to have some of Jamaica’s most famous Reggae Boyz on hand. “We played against some of them over the years like Ian ‘Pepe’ Goodison, Onandi Lowe and those guys, so it’s great to have them here.”

Smith said it was an honour to be asked to participate and to be selected as captain. “It’s a really good experience to meet up with all the old-time ballers, enjoying ourselves and celebrating the 60th anniversary of our Constitution for the Cayman Islands. I’m enjoying it,” he said.

The fans came for action and the players didn’t disappoint.

Coach Roy ‘Huta’ Ebanks of Future Sports Club managed the red team. “I’m very fortunate to be part of this game, especially with all the ballers that have helped to lay the foundation of Cayman football for all these years.”

Celebrated Reggae Boy Ricardo Fuller, who made 79 international appearances for Jamaica, and has played professionally in England for much of his career, was the first to find the back of the net early in the second half.

“It’s an absolute pleasure and an honour to be here for such a historical event,” the 39-year-old striker said. “For us Jamaican guys, the guys from England, coming to take part in it, it is an absolute honour to be here and I hope we made it as memorable as possible for those who came out.”

Former Reggae Boy Ricardo Fuller slots home the game’s first goal past former Trinidad and Tobago international Shaka Hislop.

Meantime, it was a homecoming of sorts for another Jamaican star. Ian ‘Pepe’ Goodison, a member of the memorable 1998 Reggae Boyz squad that qualified for the FIFA World Cup in France, recalls spending quite a bit of time in Cayman. “I grew up here,” he told

“I always love to come here,” said the former Tranmere Rovers player. “I’m just happy to see them and play football with them…it just brings back so many memories when I was over here playing with them.”

Charity was also the order of the day, as the event raised awareness about and funds for the Hope 4 Today Foundation, which runs a halfway house in West Bay for recovering drug addicts. Although there was no admission charged, spectators were asked to make a donation to the local non-profit. At the time of writing, it was not confirmed how much money was raised.

Suiting up on the day were:

Blue Team: Antonio Smith (captain), George Berry, Michael Belfour, Lloyd Ramoon, Pascal Chimbonda, Ercley Bodden, Richard Hew, Matt Elliot, Romeo Thomas, Sean Davis, Anthony Ramoon, Stephen Lomas, Colin Rowe, Nigel Parchment, Olsen Bush, Greg Ebanks, Matt Jensen, Gillie Seymour, Arnold Berry, Winston Hurlston, Michael Gray, Ricardo Fuller, Eric Brown, Fred Ebanks, Frank Cornwall.

Red Team: Lee Ramoon (captain), Milton Sinclair, Shaka Hislop, Hartwell Minzett, Silvester Coleman, Ken Downey, Tom Elliott, Junior Fisher, Paul McField, Easton Russell, Ian Goodison, Gerry Taggart, Peterkin Berry, Garth Anderson, Teddy Mitchell, Chris Brown, Ronston Haylock, Virgil Seymour, Michael Thomas, Charles Parchment, Onandi Lowe, Joelle McCrae, Kim Samuels, Windell Scott.

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