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Mackinnon leads reunion of M Lhuillier football team

/ 06:45 AM November 08, 2013

The Scoop-Cebu forum at Baseline Restaurant yesterday became a trip down memory lane as four members of the then-M. Lhuillier Jewelers football squad converged from all parts of the globe to reminisce the glory days of their team.

The affair was graced by M. Lhuillier Jewelers’ former playing coach Graeme Mackinnon, who flew all the way from Sydney, Australia just to attend the 25th anniversary on Nov. 11 of Cebu City’s first and only championship title in the elite Philippine Football Federation National Championship tournament held in Iloilo City in 1988.

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The founder of the M. Lhuillier Sports Development Foundation (MLSDF), Mackinnon, was joined in the forum by his former teammates Eddie Catarinen, Randolph Estremos and Genard Aller, who all came back to the Philippines from different parts of the world to attend their reunion-cum-anniversary this Monday at Michel’s Deli and Café.

The Jewelers, which was then team skippered by Cebuano football legend Mario Ceniza, broke all expectations as they overcame great odds on that fateful day when they snared the PFF title, which until today has not been duplicated by any other Cebu City football team.

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According to the now 67-year- old Mackinnon, their feat became possible during that time because, according to him, they believed in what they were doing and they have the fitness and discipline that enabled them to defeat their much-stronger foes.

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“There are three things which made our winning the title possible. They are fitness, belief and discipline. Fitness and discipline to endure the pains during the games and the belief that made us proud on whom we were playing for,” said Mackinnon, who was a promising semi-professional footballer in Australia until he injured his knee before coming over to Cebu.

The championship-winning Jewelers in the 1988 PFF tourney was a very young team back then with an age average of 22 years old with Mackinnon as the oldest player at 42.

The other members of that squad is goal-keeper Gemini Sitoy, who snagged the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award during the tourney after he conceded no goals in all of their five games to etch a record in the PFF as being the only one then to do so.

Aside from Sitoy, who will also attend Monday’s affair, the other members of the team were Rene Maambong and Edwin Arganza, who were both 17 years old when they helped the Jewelers win the 1988 PFF title.

When asked what he thinks about the country’s current football superstars – the Philippine Azkals, Mackinnon said that the team is the best thing that ever happened in the country’s football scene.

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“Football has now invaded different parts of the country. It is now being played in areas where it wasn’t being played before. And that’s because we have a successful national team in the Philippine Azkals. These players are getting results which we thought we would never see,” said Mackinnon.

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