In the latest installment of our series looking back at the Islanders' best CONCACAF Champions League moments, Coach Adrian Whitbread and forward Nicholas Addlery talk us through a feisty evening in Honduras that signaled one of the club’s greatest achievements.
“We didn’t really know what to expect,” explains Jamaican forward Nicholas Addlery.
Leading 2-1 from the first leg, the Islanders travelled to the Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano, in San Pedro Sula to face Club Deportivo Marathón. For Addlery, the memories are still fresh, most notably the sheer size of the stadium that lay before him, as well as the atmosphere.
“It was a huge field, one of the biggest fields I’ve ever played on,” he explains.
“It was a great night. The atmosphere was great against one of the best teams in Central America. We fought hard and it was an excellent team performance.”
The night also holds a special relevance for the Jamaican international as it was his goal late in the game that confirmed the Islander’s place in the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League in 2009.
“Getting that goal in the final moments of the game was very special it took us to a place that the organization had never been before.” he said.
Addlery begins to reminisce and starts his story with the ball inside the Islanders half: “I think José had made a tackle, we ended up winning the ball,” He said, “Josh played a through ball, I pulled away a little bit then bounced off the defender, then finished it in the bottom right hand corner. I remember that goal, it was a very special goal.”
More than just his goal, Addlery remembers the hostile environment that awaited his teammates in Honduras and it wasn’t just in the stands that the Islanders were met with an unfriendly welcome.
“We go to places and nobody likes us. Itis us against everybody in the stadium,” he explains.
In particular it was then Assistant Manager Adrian Whitbread with whom the Marathón coaching staff took seemed to focus their attention. What started merely as a heated exchange, quickly escalated to a push from a member of the Marathon coaching staff, with Whitbread sent off for his part in the argument.
“I think people will remember my exodus down the tunnel. I think it was their goalkeeping Coach who decided he wanted a fight with me,” admits Whitbread, with a wry smile.
Reflecting on the bizarre situation, Addlery also finds humor in what at the time was a rather unsavory situation: “Him [Adrian Whitbread] getting a red card, is part of it, but he’s also a great motivator,” He said, before adding, “Which gets us going which is probably part of his strategy but I remember that night the red card and he almost scored a flying kick.” He says as a smile comes across his face.”
Meanwhile, for Whitbread, the evening represented far more than a heated exchange. “It was a fantastic achievement for a team that was out of the USL at the time,” he said before adding, “to turn around and make the semi finals of the CONCACAF Champions League, it is what dreams are made off.”