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The offer that changed the face of cricket forever

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

When Joey Carew approached a group of friends who had been travelling the Caribbean following cricket for sometime, with the offer of the use of the old “ School Boy” stand at the Queens Park Oval, little did he know it would change the face of cricket forever!!


The Old School Boy stand, which stood on the left of the media centre facing the pitch, was losing its appeal. No longer were the school boys from QRC, CIC or other nearby schools filling the seats. 


The offer was if the group could fill those seats, they could put a mark up on the tickets sales. The first day saw over fifty seats sold and by the second ODI the stand was packed with friends, tassa, DJ, coolers, flags, nuts men, Carib seats and lots of fun. The official Trini Posse Stand was born! 


The move created great excitement in some quarters and extreme dismay in others, “this simply was not cricket.” 


The young people, many of whom had never been inside the oval, far less to a cricket match, couldn’t get enough of it but the purists were traumatised. 


The media complained the noise was too much and they couldn’t hear themselves think. What followed thrilled the TTCB and WICB box office as the Trini Posse sold out long before any other ticket in the oval even went on sale. Bookings were made for tickets even before Christmas or Carnival. As long as the match referee and the WICB were happy, the Trini Posse would go on! Game on!


As the numbers grew and with the total support of Richard De Souza, the board of the QPCC and the T&T Cricket Board, the Trini Posse Party stand was moved to another location on the east side of the Oval. The press took notice, with the Trini Posse stand becoming the most popular stand in West Indian cricket, drawing the attention of the sponsors. 


With the sponsors on board, the Trini Posse stand could now offer something totally new—an all-inclusive party stand—The Game Changer!


Trini Posse was now officially the first ever party stand in the world! 


It must be noted that Cheekie in Antigua had already introduced DJ music to West Indian cricket a few years prior but the energy of the Trini Posse stand was something new. 


With the absolute buy-in from all stakeholders including the WICB, the party stand became part of the West Indian cricket culture and what international cricket fans looked forward to experiencing. 


Even in the waning days of West Indies cricket prowess, the crowds came. It was the “place to be” during the tiresome overs between the lunch and tea intervals in the Test version and on those rained-out days the large crowds partied unfazed.


All you could drink and eat, DJ, live artistes—the likes of Machel Montano, Scrunter, Iwer George, Maximus Dan, Destra, Saucy Wow, Ronnie Mc Intosh and a host of others—made the Trini Posse stand highly attractive to the young whose-who of the region. 


Counted among the TP guests were sports stars, music legends, businessmen and business women, politicians, prime ministers and presidents. Brian Lara, Dwight Yorke, Mark Waugh, Justin Langer, Keith Stackpole, Alex Stewart, Desmond Haynes, Phil Simmons, Chris Gayle, Wendy Fitzwilliams, Butch Stewart, Mick Jagger, prime ministers, Basdeo Panday and Ralph Gonsalves as well as former president Max Richards all came to enjoy the ambience.


It was not long before the organisers introduced the Carib dancing girls. A phenomenon that would take cricket by storm spreading first to Jamaica with the introduction of the Mound Posse Stand then across the Caribbean and to cricket grounds around the world. 


Dubbed the Trini Posse by the Barbadian press at the boycotted match between South Africa and West Indies, 1992, the name became synonymous with West Indian cricket. Posse, a typically Bajan phrase began to pop up all across Trinidad and the Caribbean. 


The Trini Posse continued touring within the Caribbean taking the party to the other islands. Some of their more adventurous members, including Peter Mathews ventured further afield to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and of course England. 


Large groups of West Indians began to travel to each island taking their countries flags with them, flooding the stands with colour, such as Another Posse, Vinci Posse and Mound Posse, creating new bonds of friendships within region. Soon international groups began to show up, most notably the Barmy Army from England, the Fanatics from Australia and the Aussie Posse. The language of the game was changing. 


Coverage became widespread, the media all wanting to know about this new wave of excitement in West Indian cricket, articles with Brian Lara and the Trini Posse were featured on the cover of Time Magazine Asia and as far afield as the Scotland Press. Pieces were also done on Transworld Sport, Sports Ten Dubai and Sky TV.


In 2003, on the 75th Anniversary of West Indian cricket, Wisden, the bible of International cricket honoured the Trini Posse with a plaque for its contribution to cricket. 


The Guinness Book of Records recorded the Trini Posse football jersey at the Hasely Crawford Stadium at a World Cup Qualifier as the largest football jersey ever. It was also hung on the Salvatori Building, Port-of-Spain in a lead-up to the games. 


What started as a group of friends having fun at cricket has become recognised as a national icon, with Trinis the world over being dubbed Trini Posse. 


When this all started, cricket only had two versions, the white clad conservative Test match and the more colourful One Day game. With the dawn of the T20 version in New Zealand and its Caribbean transformation in Antigua, under the now-infamous Stanford, the most lucrative game in the world—the IPL, has adopted the Caribbean, music-driven party atmosphere, complete with dancing girls.


It’s not surprising that this version has come home to the Caribbean under the umbrella of the Caribbean Premier League. Perhaps if you want to know what’s next in the world of cricket, you might have to ask the group who broke the conservative ceiling of the ICC—the Trini Posse.


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