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Cup Match: ‘It means community, camaraderie, emancipation’

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Joy from the stands: St George’s supporters show their approval of how day one started (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

The gusto of Cup Match returned to St George’s in force, with an ardent crowd of fans from either end of the island oblivious to the early rain as the game got under way.

Somerset supporter Adrian Levine, 33, said the Annual Classic had been a fixture in his life since his parents began bringing him to the game from about age 12.

“It means community, camaraderie, emancipation,” Mr Levine said from the stands, shortly after the crowd roared for the first ball. “It’s deep-rooted in our community.

“It makes your heart beat. It’s exciting, everyone standing up and loving the atmosphere.”

Mr Levine would not be drawn on who might come away with the trophy.

“It’s a mix,” he said. “St George’s looks strong. It might end in a draw.”

Agony and the ecstasy: Crown and Anchor is a chance to spin the wheel of fortune (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

Terence Corday, serving drinks in the stands, called it “the best two days of the year”.

“I’m a Somerset fan through and through,” Mr Corday added, predicting Somerset would prevail once again. “I’m here for the cricket and here for the fun.”

Cup Match time in Bermuda: jubilation from the stands as the match heats up (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

Rico Outerbridge, a St George’s fan, told The Royal Gazette he was out at Wellington Oval for “everything”.

“This is the only holiday on the planet you cannot honestly say you can’t miss. I will always be here, no matter what.”

He added: “Cup Match is about tradition, how you feel and how you express yourself. It’s a great time, and you get to see people you haven’t seen in a while.”

Mr Outerbridge ventured that this year might turn out better for St George’s.

“Right now is looking good — we should be all right.”

Then he added: “It should be a draw.”

Somerset fan Randy Bean was confident the West would prevail, but said attending was “50-50 looking at the match and just the atmosphere”.

With changes in both teams, Mr Bean was “interested to see how it all plays out”, but said the ambience was what moved him.

“Cup Match means love in Bermuda. Cup Match means culture. Unity. All the good things about Bermuda. I come to Cup Match every year, ever since my momma brought me.”

Zach Burrows declared his fealty from the start.

“I’m a St George’s boy, so growing up I always came to Cup Match,” he said. “I never lived in any other parish. I bleed blue. Last year was my first year up Somerset.

“I may seem biased but Cup Match is better in St George’s. It’s a better venue.”

As part of his maintenance business, Mr Burrows tends the grounds at the East End every year.

“I love this club; this is my club,” he said. “I played football and cricket here coming up. I’m just here to enjoy it.”

He admitted he had been under drinking age the last time St George’s managed a win, and that he was eager to see a chance in fortune for the East. “I want to be able to legally celebrate,” he said.

Serving up food from the Smuck’s stall was Tamisha Smith, who said the first word that sprang to mind about Cup Match was “freedom”.

Emancipation Day is the first in the island’s biggest public holiday, followed by Mary Prince Day.

Ms Smith said: “Our people fought long and hard and paved the way. That’s why we’re here today, celebrating things of old, things that are new. Combine them together and we have two great days.”

She added: “I am definitely a Somerset fan all the way. Win, lose or draw. But you know what, we are winning.”

Deanne DeShield, a St George’s supporter, shared that she was “optimistic — guardedly”.

Cup Match, she added, was a time to bump into old friends that you might not have seen since the last Cup Match.

“It’s about family and fun, it’s about the cricket, emancipation, and celebrating the history of what that means. It’s a time for people to get together.”

Asked who would win, former Cup Match cricketer Winston Trott thought for a while before saying: “Somerset’s not going to lose.”

Mr Trott said the Annual Classic’s link to the end of slavery in Bermuda in 1834 had only recently become cause for personal reflection.

“When I was a young player, it didn’t matter. As you get older and you know the history of Cup Match, it takes on a different light.”

Jazmyne Kristoff said she was attending Cup Match for the first time in her life, calling it “a double celebration” with her birthday falling on August 4.

“I’m here for the good vibes,” she added. “May the best team win.”

Tinée Harvey declared herself a Somerset fan — even though she wore a St George’s shirt.

Ms Harvey was glad to be back at the match after ten years living off the island.

“It’s nice to be back,” she said. “I don’t miss Cup Match if I’m home. It’s just something I’ve always done — I’ve come to Cup Match my whole life, and now I’m back again.”

Somerset fan Jason Simons, right, celebrates the match with a West End friend (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

Another proud West Ender, Jason Simons, said he had come to St George’s by boat from Somerset early that morning.

“I come to the game once in a while, not too often, but I got invited by friends just to hang out,” he said.

“It’s a nice atmosphere, you got crown and anchor. I’ve just come to see my friends, and have a drink.”

Just an hour into the game, Mr Simons was confident of the outcome.

“Oh, Somerset have got a well balanced team,” he said. “Somerset are going to bring it back again.”

• For more pictures click here.