Ex-SVG national soccer captain, coach honored

Elliott “Morey” Millington (R) receives Lifetime Achievement Award from younger brother and former soccer colleague Osborne “Sheen” Millington.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Elliot “Morey” Millington, who skippered and coached the St. Vincent and the Grenadines national football (soccer) team and led the nation to second place in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) championship in 1979, was Saturday night honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Brooklyn-Friends of Sion Hill.

Millington, 61, who was in the vanguard of placing the village of Sion Hill “on the map in the St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Soccer World,” received a standing ovation before and after he was conferred with the award at the group’s gala, black-tie, inaugural award ceremony and dance at the Friends of Crown Heights Education Center in Brooklyn.

Late Sion Hill track star Rhonda Williams, who died in March 2014, and philanthropist Francelia De Riggs, also of Sion Hill, renowned as the “epitome of generosity,” were also honored Saturday night.

“This award is not just for sports [but as] a brother, father-figure,” said Millington’s younger brother Osborne “Sheen” Millington, in presenting his elder brother with the award before standing-room-only patrons.

“I love you, and I will always be anywhere you want me to be,” added Sheen, who also represented St. Vincent and the Grenadines in soccer, in the mid-field and striking positions, from 1976-83, under Millington’s captaincy.

In accepting the honor, Millington said that, when he joined Sion Hill’s Somerset B team in 1972, then the powerhouse A team a year later, under the captaincy of the late William Muckett, he vowed to change the long-held belief, in many quarters, that the “Village on the Hill”, overlooking capital city Kingstown, was only renowned for its track stars.

He complimented the Almighty “and everybody who surrounded me” for ensuring that the Sion Hill Football Club reached the pinnacle of the nation’s football and for captaining and coaching the national team.

“I said I was destined for it [coach],” said Millington, who was also instrumental in the formation of the Sion Hill Football League. “Yes, I was. I simply did the best I could.

“Sion Hill has set the pace,” he added. “I’m very happy for this award.”

The Friends of Sion Hill, which was formed three years ago, said in its award journal that Millington’s “exemplary managerial skills, unwavering dedication to the sport (football) and undeniable talent all contributed to his success as a leader, which resulted in SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) being recognized as a force to be reckoned with in the Caribbean.

“His leadership skills transformed not only the Sion Hill Club, but it also elicited a feeling of pride and nationalism throughout SVG,” the group said.

Venold Coombs, president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football (Soccer) Federation, who sent a monetary gift – the amount undisclosed — to Millington, through executive member Earl “Caba” Bennett, described Millington as “the epitome of grace, class, industry, dignity, discipline and commitment, who bestrode the football arena like a colossus.”

Coombs said Millington was considered by pundits as “one of the most complete players to grace the football field [in St. Vincent and the Grenadines].

“His incomparable work ethics was always on display – whether it was for his beloved club, Sion Hill (later Pepsi Sion Hill) or the Men’s National Team,” Coombs said.

Bennett, who trekked from home, told Caribbean Life, as he jostled with photographers and “photo take-outers” to record the history-making affair, that he “couldn’t miss this for anything.”

He also described Millington in the journal as “a living legend,” adding that Millington has “proven that good and great can reside in the same person and that one can also be famous and great at the same time.

“Such is the greatness of the man who is known endearingly as ‘Morey,’ ‘boss,’ ‘general’ and ‘coach’, among other sobriquets,” said Bennett, who gave the Vote-of-Thanks.

In introductory remarks, Colin Bramble told the sell-out patrons that, “without Morey’s influence, I would not have been a great soccer player, or the man I am today.

“Morey, you’re a great role model to me and others alike,” said Bramble before pausing and breaking down in tears. “After all, you’re a great hero.

“Morey has had an indelible gift; success is never final,” added Bramble, choking up.

In his tribute, St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Sports Minister Cecil “Ces” McKie said Millington “distinguished himself as a midfield maestro, technically gifted and blessed with skills, with chest and head, and was referred to as one of the best headers of the ball in SVG.”

Several former stars in the Vincentian soccer fraternity, including Raymond “Ballie” Ballantyne and Derek Dupont, were present at the award ceremony.

The Friends of Sion Hill, whose president is Oxley Lowman, said that, after several decades of “steadfast service, numerous championships, many accomplishments and accolades,” Millington retired from the National Football League in 1993 and eventually from football entirely in 2002, when he migrated to New York.

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