FORMER national midfielder Larry Joseph received a guard of honour send-off from former teammates Clayton Morris and Brian Williams, at the La Brea Brighton Sports Ground, on Wednesday.
Joseph, who has 30 caps for T&T, passed away on February 17. He was 56. The former midfielder played for Trintoc, United Petrotrin, captained the 1990 South team against their northern rivals and went pro in 1994, joining Charlotte Eagles in the US Inter-regional Soccer League.
Morris was brought to tears during his emotional tribute to his longtime friend. He reminisced on their glory days of football on both the national, pro and domestic levels.
The former Strike Squad captain paid particular emphasis on Joseph’s integral roles in domestic victories over Cosmos in Guaracara Park, Marabella, and Alcon at the Arima Velodrome back in the day.
In the latter, Joseph scored a long-distance goal from his team’s half to catch the late goalkeeper Michael McComie off his lines. Morris and Joseph shared over 35 years playing for country and both domestic and foreign-based clubs.
“Larry was instrumental in securing many titles for every, and any team he represented. He always had the extra in him whenever it was warranted,” said Morris.
The now 54-year-old credited the late Joseph for playing instrumental roles in having the 1989 Strike Squad registered as a company. According to him, Joseph was resilient to see the team’s legacy live on.
The former teammates even travelled to Orlando, Florida in 2015 and 2017, and to New York in 2019 to meet their foreign-based fans up close and personal.
“He always reminded us that Strike Squad was a brand that could not be underestimated. In 1990, the Strike Squad reunited for a football game against prisoners from Carrera Island. I contacted Larry and other players and journeyed to the prison.
“That was a unique experience for us because we were now providing hope to fellow humans who society seemed to have cast away and forgotten,” added Morris.
Former T&T player and Joseph’s Charlotte Eagles teammate Philbert Jones also reflected on the trio’s (and Morris) stints at the US club. He deemed it was a “miracle” when the three Trinbagonians were on the field at the same time.
Additionally, paying tribute to Joseph’s football legacy in the community was longstanding La Brea Angels Masters member Randy Neptune. The former club-mate stressed how Joseph gave back to the community through sport by even starting a minor league by himself.
“I will miss my ‘soldier’. From the front door to the back door, this is Larry Joseph ground. If the Government me a chance I would have buried him on this grounds (La Brea Brighton) because he loved this field so much,” said Neptune.
Also sharing their memories of Joseph were Presentation College Old Boys Association member Darren White, La Brea Sports Foundation’s Julius Wilson and Point Fortin College 81ers (Point Fortin College’s graduating class of 1981) Diane Liverpool.
Joseph’s eulogy was read by his wife Cherryl, daughter Shimone and two sons Shimon and Akil, who all shared their past personal and private moments of the late “family man’.
After moving from Palo Seco to La Brea, in 1968, Joseph attended Brighton AC primary School and passed for PFC in 1976 where he continued to play football. He then got accepted to Presentation College where he obtained most goals in the college’s league in 1983.
After his secondary school stint, he played with Forest Reserve and was named MVP at the club level. He also acquired multiple MVP awards for Trintoc in the Caribbean Club Championship. Joseph went on to play at the national level and then went pro in 1994.
Following his funeral service, Joseph’s body was taken to the La Brea Public Cemetery. Several mourners walked alongside the hearse from the recreation ground to the cemetery to bid the former stalwart national player a final farewell.
Watch - FIELD OF DREAMS EPISODE 194 TRIBUTE TO LARRY JOSEPH
Former national midfielder Larry Joseph laid to rest
By Ian Prescott (T&T Express).
Son of the soil
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.”