Captain Burrell

Warren Johnson – Views from Above – Vol 15: Captain Burrell: No Hero

Captain Burrell is dead. Long live Captain Burrell…. in this land of mega-stupidity, it is said that one should not speak ill of the dead. Taken to its logical conclusion, either we refrain from talking about Hitler, or we say he was a good man.

For those who are inclined to misread or to show their inveterate lack of understanding, Captain Burrell was no king, but neither was he a Hitler. He was Captain Burrell, an Army Man, who owned Captain Bakery, as well as the man credited with taking Jamaica to the 1998 World Cup in France.


After his death, the way he is being spoken about, there are those in the circle who is already putting him up for “National Hero” status, and wanting no less than to name the National Stadium in his honour. The way the campaigning coterie are going on, one is likely to get the impression that he took Jamaica to the World Cup all by himself, even financing the adventure out of his pockets.What of government and private sector, collectively and individually? What of the team of able people working beside him; and what of the players, who were the ultimate ‘heroes’, if there were any in this context?


It is undeniable that he spearheaded the World Cup Campaign, dubbed, ‘Road to France’. It was at great cost to the country that we will probably never be able to recover, though the conversation will get lost in the din of ‘intangible benefits’, whatever that is concluded to mean. Oh, there is the overly hyped part of it that speaks to the ‘unity’ that it brought about among Jamaicans. This is laughable, because any such ‘unity’ would not have lasted as long as the time allotted for a football game. However, in much the same way that the ’98 World Cup Campaign could never be the answer to our myriad problematic questions.


Captain Burrell was no Magician, nor was he the answer for all that we need to do to build and sustain the business of football (soccer) in this country. If that was the case, Jamaican would not now be drowning in crime and violence and social problems; and we would qualify for every World Cup that came after. As it stands, we have not been back to the big dance since then, and our Football Programme seems now to be following the new Brand of West Indies Cricketers on the road to nowhere.


Put in its proper context, it would be readily apparent that Football in Jamaica did more for the Captain than he did for it. He elevated to the ranks of high position within FIFA, football’s World Governing Authority; and was able to travel extensively and rub shoulders with the rich and famous, including politicians on all levels, including notable World Leaders. Along the way, he may even have made some extra money for all his gallant effort. Never mind the 14 Million he said he loaned the Jamaica Football Federation, which we learned about when he was voted out of office. This, after the money earned from World Cup Qualification and participation, was all gone with nothing to show for it, save the JFF Building in New Kingston. Never mind the Captain Bakery Competition he sponsored. That was all ego, or the money would have been better spent strengthening existing Leagues and Programmes. Notwithstanding the fact that we are so prone to individualism, so was the Captain, and that is why, for all the success of ’98, the National Football Programme is in shambles.


If the Captain is to be made a Hero for the Road to France Campaign, then he ought to bear responsibility for and be credited with present failures of the JFF. I know, he was human and only a man. In that same vein, however, remember that heroes -not the Jamaican version- are made of sterner stuff leading to legacies that can stand the test of time as well as scrutiny. As time passes, the work done does not vanish, but stands as a lasting testimony to anyone who dares to don this cape.


My condolences to all who mourn him, and to the family most of all. The dead either feels not hears; and though I am critical of the hero-worshiping and the effort to change the Stadium from The National Stadium to having his name emblazoned on it, I think he did a good job in moving some aspects of Footballing in Jamaica along a higher plane; and for that, the JFF Building could be named in his honour. Do not touch the National Stadium….


This is the view from above. All others can bring the noise….


Until next time, keeps doing what is noble and just. Go ahead and have a discussion right here.

I am Warren Johnson

Email: [email protected]


Editor at Large, Mckoy’s News: the views expressed on this post are that of the writer and not that of Mckoy’s News.

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