One of the most joyful people to ever wear the Black & Gold, Ansil Elcock played five seasons in Columbus from 1997-2001. The native of Trinidad & Tobago, and longtime member of their national team, was an easygoing guy who was always quick with a laugh or a cackle.
I wasn’t even sure if the news of our 15-month ordeal had reached his tropical paradise, but it turns out that Ansil is still in regular contact with Amy and Chris Baer, the Crew’s former athletic trainer and equipment manager, respectively.
Here are some highlights from our call last weekend when I reached Ansil down in Trinidad & Tobago shortly before he left for a soccer tournament in Orlando.
On the Crew being officially saved:
That’s excellent, isn’t it? Because I am in contact with Amy and Chris, I knew that Dr. Pete was trying to save the Crew from leaving because the owner wanted to move it. It’s nice to see the people protest to keep the Crew in the city of Columbus because the people are so good to the team. To move the team to Texas would be unjust to the people of Columbus.
On being told that I had received requests to track him down for this series because people still love him in Columbus:
That’s nice to hear. I feel the same way about Columbus. The fans have always been great and they made me feel at home away from home. Amy and Chris are such lovely people. And they came to visit here in Trinidad and looked for us and spent some time with us for a couple weeks, which was so nice of them. And I speak with Dr. Edwards sometimes. I talked to him a couple years ago. And Larry (Buckholtz) at Soccer Plus was always a tremendous help towards soccer in Columbus.
On what he loved about Columbus:
The people, the fans, and my neighbors always made me feel at home. After training, I would go hang out with Larry and his family at Soccer Plus. I would go to the movies and things like that.
On memorable moments while playing for the Crew:
One of the things that I remember quite clearly is playing against D.C. United and I…[laughs]…during the PK (35-yard dribbling shootout), I fall…[laughs]….and I laughed. I laughed.
[NOTE: I remember laughing hysterically over Ansil’s banana peel incident as it happened. And then Ansil’s reaction on the field made me laugh even more. And now the fact that it’s the very first thing he mentions over 20 years later and can’t stop laughing as he remembers back is the most Ansil thing ever.]
And I remember the game against Bayer Leverkusen and I scored a double against them. And then playing with Brad Friedel, Brian McBride, Thomas Dooley, because we played against them internationally, and then to come back to play with them, and they are American heroes and in Columbus I got to be part of that with them, you know?
And I remember being excited because I come from a country where there is no cold, and then I came to Columbus and it’s 15. The cold there never really bothered me. I grew to like it, actually.
On the goal he scored against former Crew teammate David Winner, then of Kansas City, at Crew Stadium, on a bad-angle rocket into the upper corner that Winner insists to this day is the goal of Ansil’s life:
Actually a friend of mine from Kansas City was in the stands. Gary Glasgow was with Kansas City at the time. What happened was I went to the line and crossed, so when I went to the line again, I saw him (Winner) cheating, so I hit it with the outside of my right foot. Then I went running right to Gary because he was in the stands and he’s from Kansas. He’s from Trinidad but he was playing for Kansas, so I just wanted him to know that we were on top. This is bringing back good memories.
I speak to David on Facebook every so often and he never tells me about that. [Laughs] Next time I speak to him, I have to ask him! [Laughs]
On Dr. Pete being part of the ownership group, plus cool bonus topics:
He’s a guy who’s committed to whatever he’s doing. He’s very, very, very, very…if it wasn’t for Pete, I wouldn’t even be walking after all of my knee injuries. He, together with Amy, they took their time with the surgery and the therapy and now here I am at 49, still playing and still running hard, you know? I know people do a job. Some people do a job for the money, but he does a job not for the money, but because he loves the job and he loves the people. The people is what he does the job for. Owning the Crew, I know he was already committed 100%, but now I think he is going to be 110% or 200% more committed. He’s such a good guy.
When I came to Columbus about four years ago, I went to see him and he was actually about to do a surgery, but he stopped and came out to see me before. Who is going to do good things like that?
Words can’t explain what I have for Pete, and for Amy and Chris, and for Larry from Soccer Plus. And Tom Fitzgerald. And my first contract with Nike was from Brian McBride. He said, “I’ll get you a contract” and he did. It made me feel at home, man. I could move back to Columbus tomorrow morning and live, man. I am so comfortable there.
On what he would say to the fans who fought so hard to save the Crew against long odds:
Keep fighting. That’s what life is about. There are always ups and downs, but keep fighting. I am so happy that you all will keep the Crew there. Any time you need me, call and I will be there. I love you all. I love, love, love Columbus people, man.
A MASSIVE SEASON is now available as an ebook.