Political affiliation does not help garrison clubs
Despite an indication that some Red Stripe Premier League teams based in garrison strongholds do better in the league when certain political parties are in power, two politicians have sought to rubbish claims that this is because of political financing.
It has been a widely held belief locally that garrison based football clubs, benefit from their affiliation with the respective political parties and that these clubs mainly strive whenever the respective political party are in power. In recent times the re-emergence of Tivoli Gardens as a local force since the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) took over, and the struggles of Arnett Gardens and Waterhouse in that same period has given strength to that argument.
Arnett Gardens club president and People's National Party (PNP) candidate for West Central St Andrew (the constituency where Waterhouse is based) Patrick Roberts, says the political affiliation of these communities does not have any major bearing on their performance, though he admitted it helps in some way.
"I would be naive to say no, because it has some assistance," he said. "If a minister calls a company and ask for assistance he is likely to get help, but there are times when Tivoli are doing well and the JLP is not in power and you have times when they are doing well and the PNP is in power, and you have times when Arnett are not doing well and the PNP are in power."
"Before we won the league, we had some serious downslide and the PNP was in power and Arnett has just started to bounce back," he reasoned.
Former west-Kingston MP and Tivoli Gardens FC president, Edward Seaga, says there is no connection, as his team does not benefit from the JLP being in power.
"I can tell you that it doesn't help me. This was the hardest year we had in terms of financing. What I have is a set of supporters that have been with me from the beginning, some have dropped out, and a few have come in because I asked them. But these are people I know, and they are close to me and it is me that they are supporting. I don't need the party to benefit, I have good sources," he insisted.
At the turn of the century, under the PNP government Arnett Gardens and Waterhouse emerged as the dominant force, with the Junglists winning back-to-back trophies in 2001 and 2002. While Waterhouse, who won their first title in 1998, achieved their second at the end of the PNP era in 2006.
However, after the JLP took power in 2007, Tivoli Gardens emerged as the dominant local team finishing above all the other garrison teams in the standings for the next five seasons, 07/08 to 2010/2011, winning two titles.
However, after that party relinquished power to the PNP in 2012, Waterhouse and Arnett Gardens returned as the forces to be reckoned with, with Waterhouse being the most feared side in the 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 season. After their fall from grace, Arnett rose to the summit and won the 2014/2015 title and lost the 2015/2016 final to Mobay.
But since the JLP reclaimed the government in 2016 Tivoli has again resurface as a title contender, with another JLP community-based club, Humble Lion, also slowly establishing themselves as a new force in the league.