Lionel ‘Diablo’ Gentle and Rupert ‘Canalete’ Anderson Print E-mail
( 0 Votes )
Written by By Hon. Michael Finnegan   
Thursday, 18 May 2017 00:00

Lionel Diablo Gentle: some of us called him Hitler. Those who were closely attached to him called him Diablo. You see, Diablo used to play football on the popular and powerful BEC football team. His teammates like Pine Hernandez, Chico Ellis, Malcolm Hemmans, Claude Robinson likewise his opponents like Angus Vernon, Charlie Gardiner, Bembe the Mugger Garbutt (now deceased), and Roo Robinson all believed that Diablo was the best football stopper this country has ever seen.

The name Hilter, I believe came from Adolof Hitler who dictated the direction of the world in the 1940’s which led to World War II. Hitler Gentle dictated things in the defensive lines of football in Belize. The word Diablo is a Spanish word which in English means devil. I believe his devilish attitude on the football field is why he derived that nickname from his closest friends.

In that legendary BEC defence, he was accompanied on the right flank by Errol ‘Shems ‘ Skeete and on the left flank by Gillian Smith and sweeping in the front of him was Randolph Tiempo Barrow. Little did I know that when my CEO Denton Belisle was Charge’d Affairs of the Belize Embassy in Washington, Tiempo was the Embassy’s driver. Amazing how small a circle life is.

I would be amiss if I were to leave out and not inform you that at one time the great Kenny Gray, who lives in Dangriga and who in addition to playing for the famous Queens Park Rangers and Hercules Football team of Mango Creek, also once played alongside Diablo in BEC’s defense.

Back in the 6o’s when football was king and great teams like Brodies, Diamond A, MYA, Romacs, Landivar, Independence, Arsenal, Santos and Rocking R of Cayo, Queens Park Rangers of Stann Creek, all these teams had good centre forwards and good attacking front lines. And Diablo was called upon to stop them at any cost. I can remember his confrontational style and approach on Bembe the Mugger Garbutt in a game in 1965 between BEC and Independence. It rained throughout the game from the opening to the final whistle and Diablo’s style and approach survived Bembe the Mugger Garbutt’s attacks and BEC won the game 1-0.

I remember his exploits against the famous Landivar centre forward Keith Gardiner. When they met it was war. I can recall distinctly, Keith Gardiner taking a shot in front of BEC’s goal and Diablo going to the ground blocking Gardiner’s shot with his head and saving the day for BEC. This is not a nursery rhyme, Angus Vernon is alive in Belize City and can attest to the veracity of Diablo’s/Keith Gardiner’s confrontations.

Chico Ellis once said, ‘no small man can’t beat no big man’, referring to Pops Hamilton, the charismatic centre forward for the two times championship team Brodies. You see Diablo was a solidly built man with robust legs and upper body; Pops Hamilton was small in stature but was ‘wassy’ as a bee. Although Pops Hamilton was small, he would put Diablo in trouble with his speed.

Chico Ellis believes that Daniel Lino of Queens Park Rangers and Maya Ortega of Santos and Rocking R were the best two footballers ever to lace up football boots in this country. That opinion by Ellis is not cast in stone as I could argue that Chico Ellis himself, Angus Vernon, Poppy Smith, Pine Hernandez and Garrincha Adderley are the best that I have ever seen. And getting back to my point, Daniel Lino and Maya Ortega were real full houses for Diablo, just like Pops Hamilton, Keith Gardiner, Bembe the Mugger Garbutt and Tweed Myvett of Arsenal. They were no pushovers, but Diablo always managed to keep them in check, ably assisted by Gillian Smith, Errol Skeete, Tiempo Barrow and, at times, Kenny Gray.

I believe it was in 1963 when I first met Diablo. Amazingly he was just 17 or 18 years old and I was still but a boy running around with Tiempo’s boots in my hands. It was this same year that the National Football Selection went to Jamaica, but the 17 or 18 year old Diablo could not make that selection as he was outclassed by the likes of John Young, Frankie Clarke, John Staine, Tiempo Barrow and Drake Williams.

Believe it or not, however, Diablo was so athletic that he managed to make the national cricket team that went along with the national football selection to Jamaica. In those days, athletes did not stick to one discipline as most of them do today but participated in several.

I met my friend Charlie Gardiner along with his lovely wife this past Sunday night and he mentioned to me about the passing of Diablo. I immediately called my friends Pine Hernandez and Chico Ellis in Chicago, where Diablo lived, and they confirmed his demise.

My friend, the legendary Lionel Gentle is gone. Some of us called him Hitler and we who were closest to him called him Diablo. Call him what you may, he is now just a blithe figure and we mourn his passing.

Rupert Canalete Anderson: I also confirmed that Rupert Canalete Anderson died some two weeks ago in Florida, USA at the age of 70 years. He was a good friend of Belize’s Football World. He was ailing from a heart condition for many years and finally succumbed to it.

Rupert lived with his Grandmother for many, many years, and because of that reason was given the name ‘Granny Baby’.

Well, if you were to put all the goalkeepers in Belize’s history together and you try to pick the best of the lot, Granny Baby’s name would emerge.

He played for the most successful team in the history of Belize, Landivar - which was managed by the late Mr. Albert Hoy. Remember I didn’t say the best football team, I said the most successful team, that is for those who will want to argue what is the best, and what is the most successful. I believe that Granny Baby won more than 3 championships with Landivar, where he was ably defended at all times by Clarence “Willie” Williams, who rose to be one of Belize’s best stopper in history.

I always remember all the saves Canalete made for Landivar while in the goal and I can never forget the most famous goal that Pappy Smith scored on him with Granny Baby coming out of the goal to cut down the angles (which in the laymans’ term means to “smallen the goal”). Pappy Smith chipped the ball over Canalete’s head, circled him and placed the ball into an empty net. The game was between Diamond A and Landivar in an FA Knockout Competition.

We are grateful to Granny Baby for the many moments he shared with us in life. Farewell to this good old Landivar stalwart and may his soul rest in peace.

Editor’s Note: Lionel ‘Diablo’ Gentle will be buried on Friday May 19th in Chicago. Rupert ‘Canalete’ Anderson will be buried on Sunday May 21 at the Bethel Assembly Church on Freetown Road.