Coach Robbie left a legacy
At the recent funeral service for Malvern stalwart, Robert Greenidge, Selby Browne delivered this tribute:
This morning, I have the honour to be selected once again, to represent our beloved Malvern Sports Club, not as player or manager or member of the executive, as on previous occasions, but to pay tribute to our Coach Robbie for the life of devotion, commitment, passion and love manifestly displayed to our Malvern Sports Club, throughout a period spanning more than six decades.
Robbie began his senior football at the Military Services of Trinidad First Battalion in 1943, a year after Malvern Sports Club, the glamour boys from Woodbrook, Tranquility and QRC, was founded, with George John, the first president of the club.
Malvern's initial glorious years started in 1942 when the club participated in the Pin Smith League and the NAFL when the club defeated all-comers to be admitted to the second division of the TAFA in 1943. Malvern won the League Shield in 1944/45 and 46. It was in 1946, while in the second division that Malvern stamped its dominance on football in Trinidad and Tobago winning the JT Johnson Cup, the Wilson Cup, the major trophies of the FAFA and the Best Dark Virginia Cup defeating Maple 4-1 and Sporting Club 6-2 in the semi final and final respectively, to be promoted to the first division.
On leaving the Service, Robbie joined Malvern, the team he admired, to play alongside his primary school friend Carlton "Squeakie" Hinds (fondly referred to as the Prince of Forwards). In 1946 the continued dominance of Malvern in Trinidad and Tobago's football was evident. In fact Malvern's dominance was manifest throughout the Caribbean, when in 1947, Malvern defeated Jamaica 3-0, Fedo Blake scoring a hattrick. Trinidad and Tobago also defeated Jamaica 6-0. Four Malvern players, Carlton "Squeakie" Hinds, Fedo Blake, Lio Lynch and Carl "Picky" Waldron represented the national team on that occasion. This was during the Triangular Tournament, and in the Trinidad and Tobago match against British Guiana the entire Malvern forward line was selected—Carlton "Putty" Lewis, Carlton "Squeakie" Hinds, Fedo Blake, Phil Douglin and Lio Lynch. Carl "Picky" Waldron also played at half back. Trinidad and Tobago won the match 2-0 and the Standard Life Trophy.
Malvern won the First division Champions League Cup in 1948 and repeated in 1949, when Robbie was named Malvern Player of the Year. Malvern also won the FA Cup in 1952. Thereafter, Robbie took up the role of player/coach and coach in full, bringing his vast experience and knowledge, excellent strategy and a keen sense of players' capabilities and weaknesses, along with his military training and moral fabric, to mold and shape boys into men.
His first "sons" were the Malvern footballers of the early sixties, the nucleus of which were direct beneficiaries of one of two outstanding educators whose vision for the development of football in Trinidad and Tobago must be heralded. Both were friends of Robbie.
The first was Mr Hamilton Holder who gave scholarships to youngsters to attend his school, Progressive, in the fifties, based on their sporting prowess. The other was Don Basil who
did likewise in the sixties, giving rise to the victorious St Benedict's College football era in the sixties. Robbie's first "sons" were led by Carlton "The General" Franco. That team won three major trophies in 1960—the BDV, the FA, and the Governor's Cup. They went on to give to the Port of Spain League the entire forward line of Arthur "Jap" Browne, Kelvin Berrassa, Carlton "The General" Franco, Ken Hodge and Eddie Hart. Ken Henry, at right back, and Clive Niles also played on that Port of Spain League Team. Tim Lambkin was another young, outstanding son of Robbie Greenidge who went directly onto the national team at that time. Other Malvern members included Clive "Milo-man" Burnett, Noel "Brigand" Gonzales, Hamil Murray, Boysie Ramdath, Godfrey Achille, Lenard Pierre and the perennial Georgie Phillip. This was the Malvern cha, cha, cha era, 1960-62, winning more trophies and providing football dance and theatre in front the Grand Stand, reminiscent of the Harlem Globe Trotters of New York in basketball. There were thousands and thousands of spectators, and I hope Raffie Knowles has absolved Robbie for "that cha, cha, cha spectacle", in Raffie's words. Trinidad and Tobago gained its Independence in 1962, and the Army was formed. Several Malvern players were drafted. The Malvern stock was depleted. In typical style, Robbie took charge and declared, "Fellas, why worry, we could play, we know about this, we could play this". As a young boy, following my cousin Arthur "Jap" Browne at the Savannah after QRC practice, I witnessed that fabric of faith, strength and cool sober confidence from Robbie, as he began to rebuild Malvern with his second batch of "sons", ably supported by Georgie Phillips, the team manager. Malvern's dominance continued, winning the FA and POSFL Cups in 1965, the FA again in 1965 and 1968, and then the BDV and POSFL Cups in 1969. These second "sons" included Kelvin and Roy Barclay, Edwin Breedy, Selris Figaro, Reynold Marcelin, Max Mascal, Robert Ellias, Ulric "Buggy" Haynes, Ulric Boxhill, Michael Saldenha, Clive and Leon Grayson, Ian Harris and Keith Aqui. Then came the seventies. The Malvern team of 1970 included Lenard Lewis, Franklyn and Ray Olliverie, Desmond Headley, Dads Mc Lean, Danny Muller, and your humble servant Selby Browne. Other players joining the club during this period were Garnett Harris, Rolf Clarke, Jessie Blackman, Russell Tesheira, Lenny Alphonso, Ken Randoo and Abdul Muhammad (Milton Archibald). The Malvern captains were Arthur "Jap" Browne, followed by Ulric "Buggy" Haynes. Malvern went on to win the BDV in 1973, and a full haul in 1974—the TFA League Cup, Constantine Cup, Golden Chisholm Cup, the Douglin/St George Trophy and the Champion of Champions Trophy. It is in that year that Robbie's second batch of "sons" at Malvern qualified to represent Trinidad and Tobago in the CONCACAF Club Championships which was played in 1975. In 1977, at Robbie's request, I had the personal honour to work closely with Robbie as player/manager. In that season, Malvern won the FA Cup and Team of the Year for yet another time. It was Robbie's finest hour. He was elated. Coming out of the glorious beginnings of the 1940s, Malvern, under his stewardship, performed with distinction in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, enjoying 14 victorious seasons during the period 1946 to 1977, and winning Trinidad and Tobago's Team of the Year award on seven occasions. The accolades and awards Robbie received were well deserved. Here, I must express my thanks and gratitude to Alderman Murchinson Browne, Former Mayor of the City of Port of Spain for renaming the Gonzales playing field, the Robbie Greenidge Sports Field. He greatly appreciated this honour. I say without fear of contradiction that Robbie's life of commitment, dedication and love—for family, football, friends, foes, fellow mankind in general—was truly complete. Most of all his faith and commitment to the Most High, His God, Our God, was well placed, and he demonstrated God's teachings in his daily life. Based on this background, his favourite quotation was "don't worry, everything would be alright; we can face the best of the world with preparation". The day, he said, must be divided into four sections—worship, work, recreation and rest, enjoying the gift of life each day. Robbie earned the respect and love of his players and management because of: strong character which stood up only for what was right, good and proper; • he behaved with integrity in every situation during the many ups and downs of club competition and club life; • he did not stand for unfairness, unscrupulousness and the like; • he made the effort to mold his players into a cohesive team, a family of people of good character which would stand them in good stead for a lifetime; • he displayed gentlemanly conduct; • he did not condone unseemly conduct, bad sportsmanship, or bad mouthing, amongst players or club management; • he could always soften a harsh situation with his jokes or wise quips; • his knowledge of the game, strategically and tactically; • he was a keen observer of the game of football and the strengths and weaknesses of his players and opposing sides, so as to play to Malvern's strengths and minimise its weaknesses while capitalising on opposing teams' weaknesses or neutralising their strengths; • he went into each game with a tactical plan which he shared with all the players and expected them to play to; • his understanding of the nature of men, young and old; • he knew not to scold his players just after they had lost a hard match but to hold it for later when the pain had subsided; • he knew that the best time to blast players for their mistakes was when they had won and had the emotional space to take criticism; • he was always available to give advice, not only about matters on the pitch but about life in general. Robbie brought his resources to all disciplines of the Malvern Sports Club--football, cricket and hockey--and promoted the welcoming of female members to the club. He took pride in the fact that Malvern hockey set an unattainable record for centuries to come, by winning the Trinidad and Tobago Hockey Championships for ten consecutive years, thanks in large measure to a second generation Malvernite, Ian Harris--footballer, hockey player, coach, national captain, and son of Phillip Harris, long-standing secretary of Malvern. During the eighties, Robbie pioneered women's football in Trinidad and Tobago with the Rossi Potentials team, winning the Championship on more than one occasion. Back in 1991, in Haiti, he became the first coach to take a T&T women's team to the second round in a CONCACAF level tournament. T&T finished third, behind USA and Canada. Robbie left a legacy in the Malvern Club which stands until today, and hopefully for all time, for which the club owes him, his dear wife Mildred, daughter Michelle and the entire family a debt of gratitude.