Lack of patience cost Griffith
There were many similarities between the thousands of Barbadians who thronged the Garrison Savannah on November 30, 1966 and the hundreds who ringed Belfield’s Court a few Sundays back to witness the finals of SJ Health And Bakery Limited Punches in Bunches road tennis competition.
Everyone wanted to be present when a new ruler, Mark “Venom” Griffith was expected to hoist his new flag of sovereignty over the memory of a past monarch in Julian “Michael Jackson” White.
Similar to 1966, the large crowd was divided between those who wanted to embrace a new champion and those who still craved the old monarchy.
At the risk of being called a loyalist and a “Jackson Man” I can proffer that the only reason why Griffith did not take the title and move closer to being the number one road tennis player in Barbados was a lack of patience.
After surging from a seven point deficit to take the first set, Griffith seemed poised to upset the defending champion.
However, showing why he had won 36 titles to Griffith’s two, White altered his game to play a wait and win points while egged on by his fans Griffith allowed eagerness and impatience to move him away from his defence style to commit many attacking errors thus allowing White to remain king of the colony.
With 28 years of age and an uncanny fitness regime, Griffith literally has time on his hand to catch and surpass White’s 36 titles acquired in his 45th year. Furthermore, while White has had to hold off such legends like Deighton “Pa” Roach, Anthony “Limp” Richardson, Sylvan “Llama” Barnett, Jeffrey “Borah” Best, Philip “Foff” Garner, Anthony “Ears” Mitchell and Edward “Dabo” Carrington over the years, Griffith is emerging while the next best challenges are not that numerous or obvious.
Even so, the development of a host of young talents like Keon Murrell, Emar Edwards, Dario Hinds and Darius “Barracus” Gaskin promises many repeat riveting battles on Belfield, Silver Hill, Deacons, Bush Hall and Dover in the future.
However, organizers need to pay greater attention to some details if the administration of the sport is to keep stride with the playing. The four person deep spectators who attended the second edition of the Punches in Bunches will not continue to be satisfied with pallets as ring side seating.
MP James Paul who provided trophies for the winners missed an easy smash when he did not indicate that basic bleachers would be constructed for the third edition and that steps would be taken to utilize the large “cow pasture” next to the court for parking so that the hundreds of cars which sought every available space to park along Black Rock would not suffer that problem in 2014.