The “Hoggist” back home in the Jewel
A few years ago, at a football game at the MCC where the veteran Norman “Tilliman” Nunez was performing in the Premier League competition, I sat beside a young man on the rooftop of what used to be the Brodies Pavilion behind the western sideline at the MCC. For whatever reason, the youth was a Tilliman “hater,” loudly voicing his disdain for the “washed up,” “sh__’n,” “old,” “has been,” until Tilliman made a brilliant move and rocked the opponent’s net. Yes, he was well past his prime, but it didn’t sound right that a youth, who apparently never saw the legend at his best, should feel proud to speak so disparagingly about one of the game’s greats. Something must be wrong in our football family, that the young generation of players and fans seem to have no knowledge about the accomplishments of past stars. Perhaps that is what a sports Hall of Fame is supposed to address – educate new generations about the heroes of the past, so they can feel obliged to give them respect in our communities. It would also add to the glamour and interest in the present game, as the baton is passed from one generation to the other.
Because of the prolonged “exodus” of Belizeans to the U.S., our present home-based population is perhaps as much as 75% per cent below 25 years of age.
In the latter 1970’s and early 80’s, Wayne “Hogman” Olivera was one of the top strikers in the Belize City football competition. In fact, he was the top goal scorer in the 1976-77 White Label championship team, leading all goal scorers with a tally of 31. Close in the running that season, recalls Hogman, were his White Label teammate Maurice “Reesho” Jones, Christobal Mayen of Berger 404, and “Patatu” Cutkelvin of Landivar.
After a number of championships on different teams, Hogman had migrated to the U.S. around 1986; and a few years ago, word reached our sports desk that he had suffered a major accident and was in a very bad way, wheelchair bound.
We were informed last week that Hogman was in town, having arrived on June 26 to attend the funeral of his mother (Isolene Flowers, who passed away on June 22 and was buried on June 30). Our condolences to Hogman and the rest of his family, especially older brother, another renowned ‘baller, Rudolph “Peru” Olivera, my former teammate on Diamond-A around 1973, who is presently in the U.S.
It was Krem’s Warren “Winger” Flowers who had informed us that the Hoggist was staying somewhere in the neighborhood, not too far from Cox Tire Shop, which is just past the St. Martin’s sports field on Vernon Street.
This morning, former Kremandala Lake football star and present community sports activist Dion “Pussy” Flowers was supervising a group of children at his Third World Summer Camp on the St. Martin’s basketball court, and I asked him if he knew where Hogman was staying. “Hogman?” Pussy hadn’t a clue who I was talking about.
Travelling down Vernon Street toward Cox Tire Shop, I encountered Wayne Miller, a promising young footballer who played a couple seasons recently with the F.C. Belize semipro team. I asked Wayne the same question, “You know where Hogman is staying in the area?” Same story. “Who dat?”
It figures. Wayne Miller can’t be more than 25 years old. Pussy is older, but he still can’t play in “Over-40.” When Hogman was “kicking up dust” on the MCC, Wayne (Miller) was not born yet, and Pussy was at most a little toddler. Pussy at his best had formidable dribbling skills, but he would certainly envy the low cannon shot, with both feet, that Hogman exhibited in his prime. But our youth can’t be blamed for their ignorance. Many of our past football stars have long migrated to the U.S.
I stopped by Cox Tire Shop on Vernon Street, and one of the veterans gave directions to the house, around the next lane to the right and two blocks north, where Hogman was staying.
Hogman was in high spirits, and was glad to see another of his old teammates. (We played together on the Charger team that was 2nd in the 1977-78 Belize City competition.) He said he had suffered a stroke in 2009, was wheelchair bound for 3 years, but has since been pushing himself with exercise therapy to recover the full use of his legs. From using two crutches, he is now able to get around with the use of only one; and he plans to continue working on his rehabilitation until he can walk unaided again. Following the advice of his therapist, Hogman said, “The climate here is best for my recovery, and I want to swim in the sea twice a week, and exercise on the beach sand.”
We chatted for a while about the old times and the circumstances of his illness. There was no fall from off a ladder, as we had first heard. After a hard day’s work, he had taken a warm shower, and went out with friends in a cold night, having forgotten his jacket; and he was unknowingly suffering from high blood pressure. His legs began getting numb, and he asked to be taken home. On advice from his doctor, he cautions other brothers about “spreeing” on Guinness. One or two is okay, but that is for blood building, he says. “I would sometimes have a headache, or an ache behind the neck, the next morning after drinking a number of stouts, and didn’t know better.” Hogman’s speech was not affected at all by the stroke, and we agreed to do a full interview on his playing days sometime in the near future.
For past friends who want to give him a shout, he can be contacted at phone 222-4224. If you care to give the Hoggist a visit, he is staying with his sister, Elaine, at #1 Corner Poinsetta and Casuarina Streets, opposite the “long barracks.” Or like I did, just ask the guys at Cox Tire Shop for directions.