Home 2008-09 – Locust
Barbados consists of just one single island in the West Indies and is generally considered part of the Lesser Antilles chain, despite actually being located about 100 miles further east out in the Atlantic Ocean. Technically this means that, although pretty much everyone thinks of it as one, Barbados isn’t actually a Caribbean nation at all, which poses interesting existential questions like ‘are you West Indian if you think you are?’, ‘do you ultimately become what you pretend to be?’, ‘if a tree falls in an empty forest, does it make a sound?’ ‘is the pope a catholic?’ and where the hell am I going with this?
Anyway, the country’s semi-isolated geography does yield considerable advantages not least for the burgeoning tourism industry. Lying outside the region’s main hurricane belt leaves Barbados relatively unscathed by the violent storms which batter other islands, sweep away homes and deposit all manner of unwanted debris in people’s gardens including neighbour’s bins, neighbour’s sheds and occasionally the neighbours themselves. Also, unlike the nations to the west the island is non-volcanic which is a massive bonus as the vacationing hordes generally don’t appreciate being coated in hot ash or incinerated by molten lava, and even if they did they’d have to bring their own.
Prior to dependence on the almighty tourism dollar, Barbadians largely subsisted off sugar and rum exports. In hindsight this appears to have been quite the genius upselling technique; keeping the world’s children in a constant state of hyperactive lunacy whilst simultaneously providing beleaguered parents the means to drink the problem away while little Freddy performs increasingly destructive cartwheels down the hallway. On the subject of rum, Barbados is home to reputedly the oldest still-active distillery in the world; Mount Gay, which sounds like the kind of butchered title Brokeback Mountain might inherit in the hands of shady Chinese DVD peddlers. Finally, I can’t finish this bit without at least mentioning the island’s most famous export of all; Miss Robyn Fenty, best known of course by her middle name ‘Rihanna.’ Despite the Bajan singer’s accent these days becoming ever more Americanised, she remains proud of her Caribbean (ish) routes even if eating local dishes does give her a bad case of Salmonella, ella, ella.
The Barbadian sporting conscience is emphatically veered towards Cricket and the country provides a disproportionately high number of players (in population terms) for the West Indies test team, historically one of the world’s strongest. On the football field Barbados must fend for themselves and for the most part they’re one of the stronger sides in the Lesser Antilles, even if World Cup qualification is, and probably always will be, beyond their powers. The team’s finest moment came in qualification for the 2002 World Cup when the Bajan Tridents (great nickname) reached the semi-final round, where they netted a stunning 2-1 win over Costa Rica in their group opener before losing the remaining five fixtures and bowing out heads held high.
Aside from this sublime moment, Barbados have also been known to dabble in the ridiculous, most recently getting themselves disqualified from the 2018 World Cup for fielding an ineligible player against an Aruba side they had originally beaten quite comfortably. However, for the holy grail of football shenanigans, we must travel back to January 1994 and the Barbados vs Grenada Caribbean Cup qualifier. Long story short but extremely complicated; some absolute plank of an organiser decreed that all matches required a winner and that, in the event of a draw, the first goal scored in extra-time would not only win the game but count double. Still with me? Good. Anyway, Barbados required a two goal margin of victory to advance and led 2-0 until the 83rd minute, at which point Grenada pulled one back. Rather than go for broke for the third goal they now needed the Barbadians instead chose to score a deliberate own goal to force the extra time where one goal would actually be two. Still with me now? No? Don’t blame you. At this point, with the score at 2-2 and just three minutes left Grenada realised they could advance by scoring at either end as losing OR winning 3-2 would be sufficient. Cue a bizarre mess with one team trying to score in either net while the other team tried to stop them, which must have looked quite ridiculous. To cap off this cavalcade of absolute dickwittery, the game DID go to extra time and Barbados DID score – at the right end this time – to win the game 4-2 and go through, even though it was – in terms of ACTUAL goals – just 3-2. Wow.
Barbados are one of those countries where you’re never 100% sure what their home colours are as they seem to alternate randomly between blue and yellow. This particular design from Canadian manufacturers Locust was purchased from classicfootballshirts.co.uk where it was advertised as the 2008-09 home version, even though most photographic evidence from this period shows the team clad in the yellow equivalent. Following a looooooong internet search I eventually stumbled upon a photo of this blue shirt in use, but even then it’s featured only in an under-17 team shot, so whether it was ever actually worn by the senior side I honestly couldn’t honestly say.
Aside from this ambiguity, the only real complaint with this shirt is that they made the badge the same colour as the rest of the material which, with the blue version at least, renders it almost invisible from anything other than close range, a shame as any crest featuring a broken trident – or indeed any weapon that belongs in the hand of a salty deity – deserves the utmost visibility.