‛Small in stature, giant of a man’
Anthony “Porky” Manders was diminutive in stature. But what the late Western Stars wicketkeeper-batsman and Dandy Town goalkeeper lacked in height was more than compensated by the remarkable attributes which he epitomised throughout an outstanding career spanning decades.
The youngest of the famous Manders siblings, who passed away yesterday at age 59, served his various clubs and country extremely well in both sports and left an indelible impression upon team-mates and opponents alike.
“I am really numb by the news of Anthony Manders’s passing, and for us at the club it’s a total shock,” Devarr Boyles, the Western Stars Sports Club president, said.
“On behalf of the club we want to extend our personal condolences to Mr Manders’s children, his wife Teresa and his extended family because we are all a part of Western Stars where he’s a legend.”
Among the captains Manders played under during a trophy-laden career at Stars, which included siblings Arnold, the Bermuda Cricket Board president, and Andre, the former Somerset Cup Match captain, was Gary Brangman who said his late team-mate played an integral role in the club’s success.
“Porky was the backbone of a lot of Western Stars’ success,” the former seam bowler said. “He was the man to anchor the team to victory.
“He was a great team-mate and one guy you could really rely on. Through the ups and downs, he was a stalwart of Western Stars, especially in our batting line-up, and as wicketkeeper he was a great help for me as a bowler.”
Brangman added: “I have a lot of respect for Porky and really admired him as a player and as a person and I loved playing with him.
“He was straight-up and honest, and it’s heartbreaking to lose a great guy like Anthony.”
Jeff Richardson, the former Stars middle-order batsmen and present coach of Somerset, hailed Manders’s efficiency standing behind and in front of the stumps.
“Porky was extremely competitive and a specialist wicketkeeper,” he said. “He wasn’t stylish but was very efficient and a solid wicketkeeper-batsman.
“He was a stubborn batsman that would hang around for aeons. Just when you think you’ve got Western Stars out, in comes Porky Manders and he would just irritate the living daylight out of bowlers.
“He was dogged in his approach to batting. He wasn’t flashy in hitting big sixes and stuff. He would just nudge the ball around and aggravate bowlers to no end.”
In 1993, Manders broke on to the Cup Match scene with challengers Somerset.
“Porky was one of the nicest, quietest guys in the Somerset team,” Dexter Basden, the former Somerset captain, said. “He was well respected and always a good player to play with.
“He was excellent with the gloves behind the stumps, he always gave encouragement to all the bowlers. Even if you were getting licked all over the place, he always had a positive comment.
“He played a few years and was a pretty good batsman, too.”
Richardson added: “I batted with him in Cup Match playing for Somerset in 1993 and him and I had a six or seventh-wicket stand that was the record at the time.”
Among the numerous highlights of Manders’s sparkling career was the major contribution he made towards the island’s victorious campaign at the 1979 International Youth Tournament in Toronto under captain Charlie Marshall.
He held nine catches and had a stumping, and stroked the winning run with 11 to spare in Bermuda’s three-wicket win over Ireland in the final.
“He basically kept the team together in pressure situations during the game, which made life easier for me as captain,” Marshall recalled.
“He was the one that kept everyone cool so he played a valuable role in the team winning the tournament.
“He was a hero in that tournament and on behalf of the 1979 youth team I’d like to wish condolences to his family.”
Marshall also enjoyed playing against Manders.
“Every time I went to the wicket, he always said something crazy to make me laugh which actually made me comfortable,” he added.
“Instead of him keeping his mouth quiet and letting me get the jitters he used to always make me comfortable and I always told him I appreciated him for doing that.
“Of course I always returned the favour because I wanted to get him because he was a pain in the neck when he got settled in.”
Manders also left his mark on the domestic football landscape during stints between the uprights with Dandy Town, Devonshire Colts and PHC.
“Porky was one of the No 1 goalkeepers on the island, if not the No 1,” Wayne Campbell, the former Town defender, said. “He was unbelievable as a goalkeeper playing behind me on the football field.”
St George’s Cricket Club president Neil Paynter, who spent six seasons with Dandy Town before returning to the east, said: “He was a small man in stature but big in character.”
Paynter added: “He didn’t say much but he commanded respect with his actions and how he carried himself.
“He was the goalkeeper my first year at Dandy Town when we won the league [Premier Division] in the 1987-88 season. That was my first year and when I came to Dandy Town, he was one of the players that made me feel at home.”
Richardson added: “I played with him at Devonshire Colts and what he lacked in height he had in determination and bravery.
“He was solid and took no prisoners, and I was always amazed at how good he was at goalkeeping for someone so short.”
Manders also savoured glory during a brief stint at PHC where he earned a Martonmere Cup winner’s medal.
“Porky was a very good goalkeeper who had very good reflexes,” Jack Castle, the former PHC captain, said.
The pair also represented Bermuda together at youth level playing under former coaches Donald Dane and Winston “Coe” Trott.
“We go back a long, long way,” Castle added. “His death is definitely a hard one to digest and has knocked me for a six.”
Dexter Smith, Editor of The Royal Gazette and a former team-mate of Manders’s at Western Stars between 1987 and 1992, said: “This is truly a difficult day. The country and the Western Stars community have lost a legend.
“One of the most selfless team-mates I have played with, who was always happy to take a back seat and let the fancy dans enjoy the limelight.
“But all along he was the MVP.”