For the love of the game, referees ended their boycott on Sunday against FC Santa Rosa and their owner/coach Keith Look Loy. Match officials showed up at the Palo Seco Recreation Ground for FC Santa Rosa’s resounding 5-2 win over Siparia Spurs in a rescheduled Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) fixture.
In a contest that was surrounded by controversy and doubt with regards to the presence of match officials, head referee Roger Smith and his assistants Devon London and Junior Geoffrey made their way to Palo Seco for the 3.30pm kickoff.
Noticeably absent was FC Santa Rosa coach Keith Look Loy and his assistant coach Jovan Rochford who were serving one-match bans for their verbal abuse of female referee Cecile Hinds on November 5 which triggered a chain of events that saw fines and bans handed out to the FC Santa Rosa coaching pair. But Joseph Taylor, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association, citing a fear of more abuse and even physical violence, said he was not happy with the punishment and threatened to continue their protest action against Look Loy’s club.
But after a press conference held by Look Loy, support from the Central Football Association (CFA), Veteran Footballers Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago and ex-Arima Mayor Ashton Forde, the referees resumed duties.
One of the match officials who wished to remain anonymous told Newsday, though, that he did it “for the good of the game, simple as that.”
Asked if he had the support of the referees fraternity, the official replied, “Obviously not, otherwise they (TT Football Referees Association) would have appointed officials.”
FC Santa Rosa started the ball rolling in the 11th minute with midfielder Ryan Stewart slotting home an early opportunity for a 1-0 lead. Burly forward Dorian Robinson doubled the lead in the 21st minute before Siparia’s Sylvester Teesdale headed the ball home to halve the scoreline in the 33rd minute. Santa Rosa’s two-goal cushion was restored just two minutes later after Rashard Griffith rounded the ‘keeper and tapped the ball into an empty net.
Saleem Henry extended the visitors’ lead just before the half time interval, capping off a nice build-up play after a lapse in Siparia’s defence for a 4-1 advantage.
Griffith notched his second goal of the game just after the break in the 48th minute and Santa Rosa could have added more goals, however, lack of composure from their attackers kept the scoreline somewhat respectable. Siparia Spurs were doing themselves no favours, winning and then missing a penalty with Santa Rosa’s custodian the hero with a brilliant save. Teesdale got both his and Siparia’s second of the game but it was too late for a comeback.
Speaking after the victory, interim manager for FC Santa Rosa, Charissa Delzin, said, “First things first, we are grateful for the officials who came out so we did not have to make the unnecessary run to the venue like last week.
In terms of the game itself, we are usually a team built off of clean sheets and a solid defence so conceding two goals today was poor from that aspect.
However, we played good, attractive football and created many chances as well as scored five goals and this is something we can take forward into the next game as we look to continuously improve.”