T&T’s not-so-average Joe
Winning any trophy is a major accomplishment in the intense world of professional football, making a double of silverware a rarity and a treble a virtual impossibility for most outfits. When you start to speak of quintuples, you’re up in dreamland – which is exactly where Trinidad and Tobago side Joe Public currently reside, having won five separate titles in 2009.
The club was founded in 1996, joining the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League in its inaugural season of 2002. Owned by FIFA vice president Jack Austin Warner, Joe Public established itself as a top side early on, finishing in the top five in the first two years of the Pro League and winning the title in 2006. Based in the East-West Corridor of Trinidad and Tobago, the Eastern Lions – as the side is known – have become a breeding ground for national team talent, with Kenwyne Jones, currently banging in the goals in the English Premier League with Sunderland, their most notable export.
In the past year, there was simply no stopping Joe Public, who play their games on the artificial turf of the 6000-seat Marvin Lee stadium. On 12 September they beat W. Connection 2-1 to scoop the T&T Pro League’s regular season crown with national team standout Kerry Baptiste finishing top scorer with a staggering haul of 35 goals. They then went on to finish top of the Pro League Big Six, a round-robin play-off comprised of the top six finishers in the regular season. Adding to those two significant achievements, the boys from Tunapuna also bested all comers in the country’s FA Cup – modeled on its English forerunner – the TOYOTA Classic and most recently the Digicel Pro Bowl.
Joe Public’s astounding season also saw them qualify for the latest instalment CONCACAF Champions League (previously the Champions Cup), where they have on three occasions reached the quarter-final rounds. “All credit goes to the guys,” said club manager Derek King, a former Trinidadian national team standout and the youngest boss in the country’s top flight. “They really went out there and did well. I want to commend them. Five trophies in one season, you can’t ask for more."
The historic nature of Joe Public’s 2009 was recognised officially by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, who wrote a letter to the club commending them on their success. In all, the club has picked up three top-flight titles (one before the establishment of the Pro League), one Pro League Big Six, three FA Cup crowns, two TOYOTA Classics, one Pro Bowl and were twice on top of the heap in the CFU (Caribbean) Club Championship.