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By Joseph G. Richards

I.E. First Captain

(Culled from X-Ray Magazine, June/May, 1986, Monrovia)


Posted July 28, 2008

The Invincible Eleven (IE) Majestics Football Association is the current Liberia Football Association (LFA) league Champion, and has consistently won several trophies within the LFA as well as distinguished itself to fame in both local and international matches. It is today one of the most important football clubs within the LFA.

This would not have been possible without the able leadership of certain personalities who have served as captains, and president of the club when that title of the leadership of the club was changed from captain to president. Those who served as Captains were Joseph G. Richard, Lawrence Morgan, Albert John son, Prince N. A. Browne, and E. Harding Smythe. When IE Majestics Football Association was formed, the President included T. Edwin Lomax, Eugene W. Cephas, Edwin Gabbidon, Same Burnette, John P. Beh and now Archibald Bernard.

IE traces its origin from Iron United, based in Clay Ashland and Bombers, based in Monrovia. These teams were composed of young players between ages of 13 and 20, and mostly students of College of West Africa (CWA), St. Patrick's High School and Liberia College. Both Iron United and Bombers were active between 1940 and 1942.


The young players of the two teams, especially students of CWA having established teamwork and amicable relationship, decided to pull their resources and form a single team, strong enough to compete favorably with the older and more experienced teams like Olympics and Bame. A meeting with this agenda was summoned up at the residence of Joseph G. Richards's mother on Broad Street in May 1943. At this meeting the formation of team was unanimously agree upon.

After tossing around several ideas for naming a football team, the name Invincible Eleven was agreed upon. Those who attended that May, 1943 meeting during which IE was formed included John Coleman (deceased), G. Aaron Grimes, Hugh Collins, Sammy Hodge, Lawrence Morgan, Austin Coleman, George Marshall, Othello Coleman, Zulu Cooper. At that meeting, Joseph G. Richards was elected first captain of the team.


The point here to note is that though most of these young students were attending CWA and the team initially had the backing of the faculty of the institution; it is incorrect to state that IE was CWA team. There were also students from Liberia College and St. Patrick's High School. Though it is true that most of the original members of the team were America-Liberians or Congos by virtue of their easy access to formal education at that time, yet it is equally incorrect to state that IE is an Americo-Liberian team. There were also students who were from the Kru, Bassa and Grebo ethnic backgrounds. For instance, Edmund Johnson, Robert Sherman, Tugbeh Anderson and Prince N. A. Brown were all Krus. Frank George, Aaron Grimes and Argwu, the goalie, were Bassas, while Hugh Collins was Grebo, thus giving the team an academic and broad ethnic base support from the onset.

The following month, June 1943, IE made its debut in football competitions after some weeks of hard practicing. The first three years were marked by constant defeats. The boys were very young and inexperienced in the techniques of football. We were however fortunate to come out with a draw on one or two occasions. And with resolute determination and abiding courage, we made dramatic improvements in our performance.

IE struck its first surprise in 1945, when it trounced "Olympics" 5-0. This victory was crucial in animating the spirit of sportsmanship and teamwork among the boys, for Olympics consisted of older and more experienced boys, mainly from Freetown. It was one of the oldest and leading teams. The Invincibility of IE, which was previously a laughing-stock, was then rested. For seven years afterwards it was almost not possible to draw with or beat IE. And football teams trembled when they had to encounter IE.


Between 1946-1949 IE sustained a severe blow when seven or eight of its members left about the same time for further studies in the USA and other foreign parts. But fortunately however, they were replaced subsequently by some promising young players from the junior team, West End Eleven. Some of these young players, who in their own right also came into national prominence included, Sam Payne Cooper, Leonard Deshield, T. Ernest Eastman, Bruce Smith, E. Harding Smythe, Gabriel J. Tucker and John Payne Tucker, among others.

However again between 19501951, some of these boys matriculated into schools abroad for further studies, thereby creating another vacuum. And coupled with the lack of support, IE was temporarily renamed "Pepperbird" by its sponsor Mr. Al Schoucair the owner of the Pepperbird Club. But when Joseph G. Richards, one of the original founders of IE returned from abroad in December 1951, he recommended a return to the IE name. Together with the name of another its junior team, Majestics, the entire IE organization is today called IE Majestics Sports Association.

When we started in 1943, being mostly young fellows and penniless, we were able to persuade the faculty of CWA, where most of IE players were schooling, to give us a set of the school's jerseys, which were circular-white and circular blue short-sleeves. IE was using this until it was renamed Pepperbird. Subsequently the team adopted Yellow as its color, after a set of yellow jerseys from its Pepperbird sponsor.

Equally important to IE were its female supports that stood bravely by it its side as a better half. Among the list were Makeda Karnga-Gurley, the late Hilda Luke, Doris Dennis-Grimes, Julia Gibson and later on Julia Wilson. Others included Ma Juah, Adama, Tonia and IE Queen Ajavon.

The story of IE should also give credit to three distinguished personalities separate from the list, whose sacrificial efforts towards the well-being of the team will remain in the annals of history. These include Eugene W. Cephas, commonly called "Joe Blow," whose home porch was for many years a meeting and dressing place for the team. Both Tom Daddah Kurrah, a Kenyan national, and Julia Wilson, should be remember for over extending their caring and sharing for the love of I.E.


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