A passionate cricketer and footballer
In his younger years, Bernard Brangman played everything from football to billiards.
He was competitive at every turn, most likely because he came from a family that took sports seriously.
His brother, George, was “one of Bermuda’s best footballers”; his sisters, Cynthia, Yvette and Kathy Ann, played softball with the Big Blue Machine.
“I always tell people I don’t necessarily want to be the best when I play, but when the best play me they just might lose,” the 76-year-old said.
Mr Brangman was the fourth of nine children born to Laurel and Gwendolyn Brangman. The family lived on Bob’s Valley Road in Sandys. His father worked as a mason; his mother stayed at home with her brood.
Cricket was his first love, but he found football more exciting.
“I used to make my own bat out of a plank,” he said.
At 7, however, he was benched from all sports after doctors discovered a cyst on his back near his spine.
“It was the size of an egg,” Mr Brangman said. “I spent a month in the hospital and when I came out, I could barely walk. The doctors didn’t know if I would play sports again. I was disappointed because all the other children were having fun. I had to watch from the sidelines, or play marbles.”
Once he got better he returned to cricket. At the age of 14, having regained his strength, he began playing for Somerset Eagles.
“They weren’t very serious about football,” he said. “They were playing mainly for fun.”
Mr Brangman’s competitive nature didn’t appreciate that much. After a year, he joined the “much more serious” Somerset Colts under then coach Conrad Simons.
Two years later his football career hit a snag when he was badly injured in a fight.
Mr Brangman was at Somerset Cricket Club for Cup Match 1959 when he noticed an older boy picking on a younger one. He interceded, and the bigger boy swiped at him with a broken bottle.
“I moved back, but my back hit the wall and I bounced forward,” he said. “If I hadn’t hit that wall I probably would have been all right.”
Instead, he fell into the bottle. At King Edward VII Memorial Hospital he received 13 stitches across his chest.
“The doctor said if that cut was a quarter of an inch deeper I probably would have been dead,” he said.
The boy who attacked him, a 19-year-old already on probation for another crime, was sent to the Senior Training School as punishment.
Eventually, Mr Brangman recovered enough to play for Somerset Trojans and became well respected as a left winger although he was sometimes teased for being a “chicken player”; he avoided hard physical contact as it hurt his chest.
“If I did get hit, I could never let them know it hurt,” he said.
Looking back at his football career, he’s most proud of the games he played for Bermuda. In June 1969, he and his brother George toured Iceland, Denmark and Norway. The team didn’t make the finals, but Mr Brangman was honoured to even participate.
“We won a couple of games, but we lost some,” he said.
He also travelled with Somerset Trojans to Jamaica, the United States and Costa Rica.
“We played Costa Rica in the 1970s,” he said. “They really outplayed us. We decided we were going to learn how to play like them. But when we got back to Bermuda we were champions four years in a row. I didn’t want to just win trophies, I wanted to advance the game. When we came back we kept the same standard. I said I won’t play under those conditions.”
He coached for a time but eventually left the game to play cricket for Willow Cuts, Somerset Cricket Club and Somerset Bridge.
“I was known for my batting,” he said. “You’ll notice how, whatever I did, I represented Somerset.”
He never played at Cup Match, but he prepared the wicket for the annual cricket match several times and also for International Cricket Council matches.
For many years, Mr Brangman worked with the Department of Marine & Ports, first on the tugboats and then as a foreman in the government department’s machine shop in Dockyard. He then spent four years working at Gibbs Hill Lighthouse.
“My job was being up at the top during the day,” Mr Brangman said. “When tourists came up, I would explain the light to them and give them some history about the lighthouse. That was a nice time.
“The bad part about it, was when you wanted to use the bathroom you had to walk down 185 steps. Then you had to walk back up 185. But I had been a sports person, so I was in pretty good shape.”
For ten years after that, he worked as a carpenter at Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa.
Mr Brangman doesn’t play sports any more, but he does like a mean game of cards. He also likes practising his golf swing at Port Royal Golf Course.
“I like to stay accurate,” he said.
He also walks at least twice a week, from his home on Somerset Road to Dockyard. Once there, he walks out to the cruise ship dock, turns around and goes home, for a distance of about six miles.
“When I go to Dockyard, I often pass these two brothers,” he said. “They always call out, ‘Hey, there goes Bermuda’s best left winger.’”
Mainly, however, he enjoys his “quiet lifestyle”. “I go to Hamilton a lot. I catch the bus to go to St George’s from there. I might stop in a bar and have one beer.”
People often say that playing sports builds character, but he doesn’t believe that.
“If that were true we wouldn’t see the problems that are there today,” he said. “But playing sports can enhance character. Character-building is what happens at home.”
• Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Tuesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or firstname.lastname@example.org with their full name, contact details and the reason you are suggesting them
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