PHC coach: Retired, not forgotten
It’s been 18 years since Edward Durham retired, but the former football coach has not been forgotten.
He trained members of the Pembroke Hamilton Club for five years. According to the 80-year-old, the instruction he gave wasn’t limited to the football field.
“Someone called me just the other day,” he said. “They said, ‘I just wanted to call and thank you for helping to turn my life around’.
“Getting young people to lead healthy, productive lives was always very important to me. At PHC, we taught the boys to be respectful.
“Some of them had trouble getting jobs, so we talked with them about what employers expected. We talked about good conduct. We used PHC member connections to help them find jobs. We even helped some of them go to college. One of our players was so proud to be able to build a house for his mother.”
Mr Durham is particularly gratified that some of his players went on to become coaches themselves.
Mr Durham started playing football as a child on the North Shore in Pembroke. His father, Cecil, was a butcher; his mother, Thalia, stayed at home with Mr Durham and his siblings.
“My father worked for Miles Market and was responsible for the whole process, from killing the animal to cutting it up and getting it to market,” he said. “Early on, I realised that business wasn’t for me.”
Being fourth in a family of 11 inspired a strong sense of responsibility.
“My mother was very stern,” he said. “I had eight sisters; three were older than me. When my father was working it was my job to watch over my younger siblings and protect my sisters.
“I would see the way my friends looked at women. I always knew that if I wanted them to treat my own sisters right, then I had to do the same for theirs.”
He joined the Key West Rangers as a full-back at 16 and went with them when they became part of PHC in 1956. The Zebras recognised his long service two years ago by inducting him into the PHC Hall of Fame. “I really appreciated that,” he said.
As well as coaching, he was involved in early drug counselling in Bermuda.
“In the 1960s a lot of young men were getting involved in drugs and alcohol,” Mr Durham said. “A group of us started The Group to try to turn around the lives of young men. There were about 15 young men in The Group. We counselled them and also tried to teach them to do for themselves. For example, sometimes we took them out in the boat to teach them how to fish.”
Mr Durham joined Elbow Beach as a security guard in the 1960s.
“It was back when we had college weeks,” he said. “Lots of American college students would come to Bermuda for spring break. It was my job to make sure they behaved themselves.”
Soldiers from Kindley Air Force Base would sometimes prowl the beach area in hopes of attracting one of the visiting females.
“I’d have to call the base to come and get them,” Mr Durham said. “The base police didn’t mess around. One of them told me once that it was OK to hit the boys from the base if they acted up.”
One female had a particularly difficult time.
“She was very young and the other students were taking advantage of her,” he said. “I talked to her like a father. Then one day I got a call to say they were leaving and she wouldn’t get in the taxi until she saw me.
“When I went up there she was crying and said she couldn’t leave without saying goodbye. I said I appreciated her thanking me, but it was time to go. I never saw her again, but that was touching.”
He later moved to the now defunct Harmony Hall hotel.
“One of the young ladies who worked there was talking about taking an accounting course being offered during lunch hours,” he said.
“I encouraged her to take the course. Then I thought, ‘I might as well take it myself’.”
He passed with flying colours.
“I always loved numbers,” he said. “That led to me becoming night manager at Harmony Hall.”
This was in addition to working mornings for AF Smith and coaching in the afternoons.
“There wasn’t a lot of time to sleep back then,” he said with a laugh.
Despite his busy schedule he found time to raise a family.
“Of all my accomplishments, I am most proud of my three children, Edward Jr, Deanna and Suzanne, and six grandchildren,” Mr Durham said. “We spend a lot of time together.”
He married his wife, Lorraine, in 1956 and were recently honoured by CableVision and Heart to Heart Ministries. They frequently counsel young couples.
“Sometimes my wife will spend an hour or more on the phone talking with people who call for advice,” Mr Durham said.
The Durhams say two things have helped their marriage to survive: their faith in Christ and agreeing to disagree.
“Early on we decided that it was OK for him to have his opinion and me to have my opinion,” Mrs Durham said. “If I was proven wrong I’d apologise.”
The couple share a love of sports.
“Ed loves all sports,” Mrs Durham said. “Whatever sport we are watching, he never tires of explaining the rules and plays. Our children all love sports, too, although we also value education.”
Mr Durham does not play football any more, but he still finds time for the occasional round of golf.
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