No suitable winner for Sportsmanship award
The Bermuda Friendly Societies will not have a Sportsmanship award winner for this year’s Cup Match after the two umpires, Emmerson Carrington and Alex Knight, failed to find a suitable candidate.
Behaviour and the players’ deportment were called into question at Cup Match at Wellington Oval, and at the fifteenth anniversary of the Sportsmanship Award on Thursday night Carrington confirmed that he and Knight could not find a player worthy of the award.
“Unfortunately this year the umpires couldn’t pinpoint an incident or example where the true meaning of sportsmanship was displayed on the field,” Carrington said at Manchester Unity Hall.
“We had some who were near, but the final decision was made that no award will be given this year.”
Leo Mills, of the Bermuda Friendly Societies, reiterated that the award, when it was first launched in 2004, was to reward Cup Match players for good sportsmanship.
“As some of you may know, the idea of the award was to recognise not only the recipient’s prowess on the field of play, but also his leadership capabilities, his commitment to teamwork, his dedication to fair play, being a good role model and the example he sets as someone who typifies the very best of what the annual classic means to the players and fans alike,” Mills said.
“A former broadcaster, Gordon Robinson, always used to end his sports programme by saying, ‘Play the game hard, but play it clean’. That advice is good for just about every sphere of life, whether it be sports, politics or anything else.”
Clyde Best, the youngest player to play Cup Match when he made his debut for Somerset in 1966 at the age of 15 years and 155 days, was the guest speaker.
Best, who played in two Cup Matches before going on to make a name for himself as a professional footballer with West Ham United.
He was one of the first black players to excel in England, but was often subjected to racists chants at grounds up and down the country.
August 25 marks 50 years since Best made his debut for United in a 1-1 draw with Arsenal.
The road outside Somerset Cricket Club, his boyhood club, has been named Clyde Best Lane while the Bermuda Football Association grounds in Prospect also carries his name, the Clyde Best Centre of Excellence.
Best still holds dear the memories of playing in Cup Match as a colt. “I still remember it as if it was yesterday,” he said.
“We played against a St George’s team that was one of the best teams in Cup Match at the time; they were very good. They had people like Clarence “Tuppence” Parfitt, Rupert Scotland, Calvin “Bummy” Symonds. To me, Cup Match is the best holiday in the world. When I played, it was licks upon licks [for Somerset], so it’s nice to see the guys up there doing very well.
“I must agree with Mr Carrington that I wish we can tone down the rhetoric and the behaviour. I’m a believer if you have good sportsmen you turn out good people for society. Very seldom do you see good sportsmen going to Westgate.
“There is nothing wrong with discipline, many people think it is a bad word, but we wouldn’t be where we are today without it. If I wasn’t disciplined then they would have sent me packing on the first plane back to Bermuda. They saw the discipline and decided, ‘We’re going to keep this guy’.
“Another thing that is important is we have to learn to share, to give and be responsible for one another. I had to make my way from Heathrow Airport to the eastern part of London where people guided me to one of the player’s [Clive Charles’s] mom’s house. This lady, Jessie Charles, a little white lady, took me in. I was supposed to stay with her for a couple of weeks and ended up staying with her six or seven years.
“She was like a mom to me and I will always be indebted to Jessie Charles because she took in this little black boy who she knew nothing about.
“She was married to a black man in the 1950s. She was a little lady who probably came to my hips but when she gave a shout you listened.”
Best added: “One night at Upton Park we were playing Sheffield United and I was taking all sorts of abuse.
“She was there that night and went up to a guy who was yelling and had a pipe in his mouth and she said to him, ‘Don’t you ever call my boys a name like that’.
“She shoved the pipe down his throat, got out, walked out and never went to another match. That was the sort of person she was.
“She taught us a lesson about respecting people no matter who you are, where you are or what colour you are.
“Coming from a place like Bermuda has taught me so much. I love my island, that’s why I’m here now. I’ve been all over the world, but I still ended coming back home because I love the place. We live in one of the best places in the world!”
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