The cars flowed up Factory Road and Sir Sydney Walling Highway, bumper to bumper traffic in parts. The solid line of yellow clothing interspersed with some green and gold wound its way to the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium to witness the Benna Boys FIFA/CONCACAF Qualifying match against the Jamaican Reggae Boys.
In what appeared to be merely minutes, the North and South stands quickly filled up and the air was thick with excitement and nervous anticipation as Antiguans and Barbudans got ready to witness history.
The game opened with both national anthems being played and the presence of Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller and the Hon. Dr. Baldwin Spencer, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda. As the last note was played, the Benna Boys and indeed the citizens of the country were ready for the Reggae Boys.
The Benna Boys played aggressively from the onset; they gave no quarter to the Reggae Boys and did an awesome job of keeping the visitors at bay.
Peter “Big Pete” Byers, Tamarley “Ziggy” Thomas had close opportunities for scoring goals but the attempts either went wide or failed to be converted. However, Goal Keeper Molvin James’ performance delighted the Antiguan fans.
James valiant efforts and defending the goal were met with cheers and robust applause. In the second half James denied a goal by a Jamaican striker so forcefully, that he somersaulted with a firm grip on the ball much to the delight of the fans.
Meanwhile, Curtis, the 39-year-old who has been coaching the Antigua and Barbuda team for the past 14 months thought his team was positive at the end as they went in search of the winning goal.
“I think in the last 20 minutes the game was very even and could have gone either way. I thought it was important not to concede a goal and actually score a goal and I think the guys were positive and really pushed forward.”
The game ended in a nil all draw between the Benna Boys and the Reggae Boys. While Coach Tom Curtis was disappointed that the Boys did not win the game, he was pleased that no goals were conceded.
At the end of it all, the Benna Boys came away with one (1) point against the Jamaicans