Rolling Stone: Brothers Never Lose

I am a contributing writer for Rolling Stone Italy, the magazine that has been reporting on music, politics and popular culture since the late ’60s alongside the original American imprint. My work for the magazine includes writing pieces that investigate and reveal emerging cultural trends and movements from around the globe.



Brothers Never Lose

“This is gonna be one hell of a match,” a bystander said, as we watched the warm-up for the Portmore United versus Humble Lions football game. It was a balmy Sunday evening at the Ferdie Neita Sports Complex in Portmore, a suburb that is a 40-minute drive from downtown Kingston and boasts being the largest housing complex in the Caribbean. Portmore is so sizeable, in fact, that the Jamaican Parliament is currently bantering about whether to add it as a 15th Parish; Jamaica is comprised of 14 Parishes and there are equal amounts of support and protest about adding another. As the teams practiced field sprints to a soundsystem busting tracks from Mavado, Beenie Man and Serani, the crowd readied themselves in the bleachers. A group of men parked their motorcycles along the fence while a group of women set up a stand to sell bottles of Red Stripe and Tru juice. As the sun began to set, the field lights came up and refracted the green and magenta windowpanes of a neighboring church. It was a bit like being at one of the African Cup of Nations matches but on a much more intimate scale in a setting that felt like a distant cousin of the South Bronx.

It was going to be one hell of a match, I discovered, because the host and visiting teams were at their core one and the same. As a friend explained, “It’s brothers playing brothers but they don’t want to beat each other.” Both Portmore United and the Humble Lions are premier league teams that originally hail from Clarendon – a Parish located on the south end of the island – and were split literally into competing camps. The Portmore team, formerly known as Hazard United, was renamed and relocated for reasons involving a mixture of bureaucracy, geography and a push for Portmore to have its own home team. The president of the Portmore Football Club is an official in the Jamaican Football Federation. The President of the Humble Lions Football Club is the Minister of Transportation and Works. Team members were swapped out and transferred. Players were forced to choose sides. The end result left fans in a state of schizophrenic bipartisanship.