By Marlon Munroe
Masters footballer and manager of the Rastafari Patriarchs, Allan La Rose believes that former West Indies batsman Basil Butcher’s comments regarding the merger of GCC and GFC were somewhat selfish and out of context.
In last Friday’s edition of the Stabroek News, Butcher in the article ‘Merger of GCC and GFC would be sinful’, stated that it would “be a sinful act against cricket” should the merger between the Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC) and the Georgetown Football Club (GFC) materialise. Yesterday, La Rose maintained that Butcher’s argument was based purely on sentiments and nostalgia without realising that the merger of the two grounds can keep the inner city youth away from the ills of society.
“The adjective sinful probably was used out of context or was purely a selfish thought. When you think in terms of what he is judging his sentiments on it’s very nostalgic; that history will forever remain, it will not be erased. The fact remains that the GCC ground, Bourda, will forever remain the first Test venue for cricket in Guyana.
“Even though you (may) merge the two to get a facility that will afford inner city youth…that is the importance of what this is going to provide. It is going to be providing for denied or deprived inner city youths two sports, football and athletics, and as you know those are poor people sport because of the minimal cost it undertakes to be involved in those sports,” La Rose explained.
At a meeting about two months ago the government had proposed to the executive of the two clubs that the possibility be explored of a merger between the two grounds to build a sport facility.
The facility, should the clubs accept the proposal, will have a track for athletics and a football field in the centre and virtually little or no space for cricket to be played.
La Rose, who said that he respects Butcher’s contribution to the game and his legacy in Guyana and West Indies, took umbrage with Butcher trying to dissuade the government from “providing something meaningful”. La Rose also envisions Guyana being able to host international events, naming the Junior Carifta Games in the process, if government’s proposal is accepted.
He opined that Guyana has never hosted these championships because of the country’s lack of facilities. Further, he stated that both grounds are white elephants and “there is no possibility of a Test match or One-Day International being played at GCC in the near future because of the fact we have the fastest drying ground in the Caribbean at the stadium and there is no way they (government and officials) will compromise that.”
“The GFC has done absolutely nothing for spectators who have supported that venue over the years. As a player in the 70s there were stands and people were facilitated. Now we are talking 2010, GFC has nothing. (When) You go there with your family, the rains come and you are left to the mercy of the elements; you go with a female, she want to use the toilets they are not proper,” La Rose, who is also a journalist, emphasised.
He questioned the purpose of having the venues languishing and then reiterated his call for the merger, which will enable Guyana to host international events.
Exclusion of cricket
The executive arm of the GCC and some persons in its general membership have expressed concern over the exclusion of cricket in the proposal which was made by the government some two months ago at an Ordinary General meeting.
Subsequently, in a release from the GCC it was stated that when the proposal is produced by the government the membership will vote on it if cricket is not included in the plan.
When Stabroek Sport asked La Rose about the reallocation of the cricketers from GCC, which was one of the concerns of the GCC executive, he said that he is positive that other provisions will be made for them around the city. He mentioned D’Urban Park in the Lodge area and the Parade Ground as possible replacements.
He conceded though that while this may not be to the liking of many in the football and cricket fraternities, he is sure that football and cricket will continue to be played.
Grilled on whether he supports displacing one group to place another he noted that he deals with facts.
“The benefits, the spin-offs, you must be able to work out what will benefit and it cannot be sinful if you are providing. I am certain that Guyana with so much space you must weigh out you positive as opposed to your negative and there is greater positive to merge those two facilities to give Guyana something substantial,” La Rose argued.
He concluded by saying that the sinful act will always remain not giving credence to this development, especially since he believes that cricket is a “dying sport” and “football remains the people’s sport”.