IN OVER two decades of chronicling Cebu football, I’ve been lucky to see some memorable moments. Just like the organizers of the Thirsty Cup, who saw the first 7-Under players blossom into Men’s Open players in their stint, I also have my favorites.
FREE KICKS. I have three, the first one was back in 1997 when I first saw Richard Montayre play. I think it was against the University of San Jose Recoletos (USJ-R), and the playing coach bent it all the way to the top right from a good 35 yards away. But in terms of the importance of the goal, I think it’s a tie between Ruffy Llorente of Leylam FC and Leo Maquiling of Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu.
It was the Aboitiz Cup final between Leylam and Erco Bro and the match went to extra time. Deep into the extra time, Leylam earned a foul, a questionable one per Erco’s perspective, and Llorente made it count with a perfectly struck free kick for a 1-0 win with two minutes left.
Maquiling’s free kick in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) final against the USJ-R will forever live as one of the best free kicks in Cebu football history. Maquiling was getting close with every chance he got and when he finally had one just outside the box in the dying minutes, everyone, including a few of the USJ-R fans, had an idea that it would go in. It wasn’t Maquiling’s first that season as in the previous games, he had two goals from a free kick.
I remember, just as Maquiling was surveying the wall, someone behind me was telling someone else, “Sulod ni, human ni.” He was right. I also had my video camera on, ready to take videos of the celebrations of the Ateneo crowd. Man, it was wild.
RIVALRY. Before Erco Bro vs Leylam, there was Hiroshi vs Crazy Horse 15 years ago, a rivalry that saw both teams meet in the finals in all of the local tournaments. It was one-sided, with Hiroshi winning the finals matches but the rivalry was great for the game.
Never mind if there were some ugly moments, but overall, it was great watching the two squads chase each other for the crown. The highlight for me, I think, was the Aboitiz League in 2005, with the title coming down to the last game of the season between two teams. Crazy Horse only needed a draw as it was ahead on the second tiebreak, goals conceded, but Hiroshi managed to snatch the title.
IMPRESSIVE STREAKS. After losing the last Cebu Amateur Athletic Association crown, USJ-R went on to establish the gold standard in college football by winning four straight crowns in Cesafi tournament, a record that was matched only this season by the University of San Carlos (USC). Just imagine, when USJ-R started that streak, most of the USC players now were barely two years old!
PERSONAL CONNECTIONS. Here’s one that I rarely share. We all remember that infamous brawl photo a few years ago, right? A day later, I got a call from a colleague who asked that I not use the photo again as the guy involved was a family member and minutes later, I got another call from a colleague asking for help to identify the guy as the kid was a family member.
The group chat I started was quite lively to say the least.