Ex-national striker and current player/coach of three-time TT Pro League champions Central FC, Stern John, came in for heavy criticism yesterday for alleged comments he made towards a number of North East Stars players during Friday’s Pro League encounter at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
It is alleged harsh words were exchanged between the 40-year-old John, who featured for the entire match, and the Stars players, during the one-sided contest which ended 6-0 in favour of North East Stars. Central FC, who completed a historic three-peat of league titles last season, are currently languishing in the standings and looking unlikely to make it four in a row.
Ironically, John is also an assistant coach with the Trinidad and Tobago team, while national coach Dennis Lawrence looked on in the stands.
According to a Stars player, who requested anonymity, John should permanently hang up his boots instead of trading barbs on the field with this country’s professional footballers.
“I thought it was very distasteful. There is always banter within football. Banter amongst the players is one thing but when you have the position as the assistant coach of the national team, and a head coach (of a club team), it would come across a lot different.
“I was a member of Central FC previously. I don’t know him personally but I think that the remarks were uncalled for, coming from a person of his stature. It was definitely uncalled for, banter or not.”
About the all-time TT record goal-scorer (70 goals from 115 internationals), the player stated, “You are past your career. Your playing days are over.
“Nobody said you (were) not a good player. You were a good player. But now is time for the younger players because it’s their generation, their time to shine to make something of themselves, so they can now move (forward).”
North East Stars coach Derek King, when contacted yesterday, pointed out, “As a coach, I would never disrespect (any) coach in the League or disrespect any player. At the end of the day we (need), as coaches and club owners, to build Trinidad and Tobago football.
“It’s not about us. It’s about building Trinidad and Tobago football to take it to the next level. We’re here to support, we’re the feeder for the national set-up. We should be as one, all the coaches,” ended King, the former TT defender and assistant coach.
Efforts to contact Brent Sancho, owner of North East Stars, proved futile.
‘Central’ in crisis..North East Stars hit.
By Ian Prescott (Express).
CENTRAL FC’S sudden and rapid fall from grace is just a symptom of the greater problem of lack of financial support for the local professional football league. That was the opinion of Central FC managing director Brent Sancho following his club’s latest Pro League defeat, a 0-6 loss to North East Stars on Friday night in Balmain, Couva.
Having won three consecutive Pro League titles (2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17) and two Caribbean crowns (2015 & 2016) when they had the money to buy the best local footballers, Central FC suffered its worst defeat yet when hammered for half-a-dozen by the current league leaders at the Ato Boldon stadium.
“Every club (is) losing players due to the financial situation. So, is not about Central FC alone. This is a Pro League problem. Jabloteh is (sic) a shadow of themselves, they also lost a lot of players. We are the same way and apparently some of North East players playing for free,” Sancho declared.
The Derek King-coached Stars started with six former “Couva Sharks” players, including former USA-based winger Rundell Winchester who scored a hattrick (21’, 40’ & 85’) after ex-Central FC captain Elton John opened Stars’ account from the penalty spot in the third minute.
Jameel “Shooter” Neptune, acquired from Morvant Caledonia United, and Jalani Felix completed the one-sided rout.
Former T&T international striker Stern John has come out of retirement due to the acute shortage of playing staff at Central FC, deprived of six injured men on Friday night and a host of the better players who have left the team due to non-payment of salaries. Forty-year-old John also assumed the player/coach role after head coach Dale Saunders moved on as well. The former English Premiership striker played a full 90 minutes without impact in a Central FC side having to play with youngsters and just three senior regulars -- in Sean de Silva, Jason Marcano and defender Sean Bateau.
Still owed over $2m in prize-money, former England-based defender Sancho disclosed that at a recent Board meeting, Pro League clubs took a decision to see out the 2017 season, but strong uncertainty lingers over 2018. Clubs will also not play for prize money this season. Sancho explained that clubs budgeted around a promise of continued financial support through Government’s monthly assistance.
“It not only stopped, but it stopped right at the start of the season,” former Sport Minister Sancho declared. “You budget, sign contracts, and then the subvention stops suddenly. It left us all in a crisis.”
The crisis continued for Central on the field when Elton John converted a penalty that he himself had won, taken down by defender Rhondell Gibson when driving into the “Sharks’” penalty area. Neptune struck in Densill Theobald’s pass for 2-0 in the 14th minute and Winchester got two before the half ended, first volleying Kevon Villaroel’s cross past Central keeper Kern Caesar in the 31st minute and then putting a powerful shot past the keeper for 4-0 nine minutes later.
Substitute Felix sent a free-kick to the far corner for 5-0 in the 81st and Winchester headed in Duane Muckett’s cross for 6-0 in the 85th minute.
But for some wasted chances from Stars, the scoreline could well have been worse for Central FC.
Defence Force FC 1 (Hashim Arcia 84’ - penalty ) vs San Juan Jabloteh 0
North East Stars 6 (Elton John 4’ pen., Jameel Neptune 14’, Rundell Winchester 21’, 40’, 85’, Jalani Felix 81’) vs Central FC 0