JC, STATHS hunt Manning Cup
The final encounter between Jamaica College and St Andrew Technical High (STATHS) this schoolboy football season will either continue a legacy for a perennial powerhouse or end a more than three-decade wait for the other.
Their third meeting this season will be for the ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup title when they play in this evening's final at Sabina Park at 6:30. It is not only their third meeting this season but the third time in five seasons they are facing each other in the final.
For STATHS head coach, Philip Williams, the hope is that they will be rewarded for the work and commitment that they have given over the season, with players drawn from the team that won the Corporate Area's Under-16 competition last season.
"There is a thin line between that 2021 Manning Cup group and the under-16 group because it was intertwined and now we are here in the same calendar year but in two different seasons and they have made it one step further (in the Manning Cup) than they did in January. It is a special group," Williams told STAR Sports.
It is a group of players that has dealt with adversity on the field and tragedy off it, with the tragic passing of Omar Laing in April, a wound that Williams acknowledged would not heal. Laing was shot and killed in his community.
Williams has been pleased with how they fought their way towards another opportunity to claim a Manning Cup, with their first and only title being in 1987.
"I mean their fighting spirit on the field is something that is commendable. We have been down in matches, in terms of them sticking to the game plan and playing a mature game until the 90 minutes and getting the results," Williams said.
JC's coach Davion Ferguson believes the consistency of the STATHS' programme over the last few years has made them formidable opponents which he will be wary of.
"They have a good, consistent programme for the last five years. We would have played them twice this season and we managed to come out on the winning side," Ferguson said. "That is a positive but come today I think that will count for very little because it is a game that they want to win and we want to win and both teams will put their best foot forward."
Title No 31 for JC would be Ferguson's second in three seasons, which he believes will be a reward for the players in a programme that continues to enjoy consistent success.
"I think for us, it is definitely would be a nice climax for all the hard work we would have prepared over the months and would re-cement in the minds of those who don't know, of those who have doubt that Jamaica College is the most successful schoolboy football team in the English-speaking hemisphere," Ferguson said.