A big thank-you to the godfather of Dockyard football
My friend Clyde Best and myself always firmly believed that we should affirm people while they are still alive so that they would know how much of an impact they made in people's lives.
So today we have decided to single out our former football coach from our Dockyard days, Edward "Ice Water" Smith, who was the founder and coach of the Dockyard Island Rangers football team.
Go back to 1995 when a popular Disney movie was released called The Big Green.
The story goes something like this:
An Englishwoman comes to the very small town of Elma, Texas, as an exchange teacher for a short time, and inherits a very unruly bunch of kids.
This new teacher decides that the best way to get her students' attention is to introduce them to soccer.
They call their home field "The Big Green" and this name is adopted as the team's new name, complete with a green spray-painted goat Mascot named Ernie.
In the beginning the team were hammered by their opponents with some pretty high scores until, eventually, the team began to work together until finally they ended up winning the championship by defeating the current champions, who were champions for many consecutive years, in the finals.
Every time I think of this movie, it always reminds me that we had experienced our own “Big Green” episode over at Moresby Plain in Dockyard.
We had a coach in Mr Smith who recognised that we were a bunch of guys that were a mixed multitude.
Some of us guys came from functional and dysfunctional families, and some of us had some bad attitudes and our future did not look too bright.
But we had a coach that was interested in our future. He, along with other men, got together and they formed the Island Rangers football team.
Our team meetings were held in Mr Smith’s living room at No 7 Portland Place, Ireland Island in Dockyard.
We, at that time, wore white T-shirts as part of our outfit until we were able to purchase our full kit by fundraising, which included cleaning windows, washing clothes and any other jobs that were required of us.
We were taught to always compete at a high level and were also given lessons in losing gracefully, and to celebrate a good win with dignity.
Similar to the Big Green team, we experienced for a time many heavy defeats by much stronger and better opposition teams. Mr Smith always gave us words of encouragement after the heavy defeats and he promised us that some day, we will be defeating other teams.
He always arranged football games against the visiting British Navy ships that came to Dockyard. Some of the players from the ship could make any Premier League team in England; that is how good they were. We all learnt so much from them. As a matter of fact, many folks constantly proclaim that Graham Adams was the one that discovered the talents and skills of Clyde Best.
For the record, it was not him. It was those British sailors that we played against on a regular basis that would single him out as being a “special” player. They would always admire his skills and shooting power along with his physique. They would invite him at times as a guest player whenever they played among themselves.
Mr Smith also arranged cricket matches for us as well. I can remember playing against The Green Grass Club, The Oleander Club and against the British Navy crew.
Many of us were given chores to do — like marking out the field, cleaning the footballs, etc. Many times Clyde Best and myself had to walk from Dockyard to Boaz Island to collect buckets of lime at the old Bermuda Industrial Gases facility to mark out the pitch at Moresby Plain for our next match. Mr Smith would watch us from a distance to ensure that the lines were straight, and if they were not straight, we had to mark them over again.
Mr Smith was highly respected by all the guys. He instilled in us self-worth and to always look out for your team-mate. I can remember the time when our team played against Southampton Rangers. We were small players compared with them. Clyde was a marked man. They were roughing us up on the field with some heavy tackles.
At half-time, Mr Smith went over to the Rangers coach and told him to take it easy on his players. Of course, the coach responded by saying that football was for men and not boys. During the second half, the hard tackles did not stop. Our team captain, Carlton Best, whom I consider the best football captain that I've ever played under, went over to Mr Smith and complained again about the rough tackles and he wanted permission to let us dish out some of their own medicine.
Mr Smith told him to hang on for a while. After a while, the signal was given to dish it out. Well after a while, the Southampton Rangers coach begged Mr Smith to call off his boys. We protect each other as a team.
We had many players that joined our team. Players such as George Brangman, Roger Evans, the late Charles “Skeets” Fubler, Calvin Basden, Robert Trew, Bernard Brangman, Sheldon Bradshaw, Mervin Smith, Stuart Wilkinson, Kent, Alan and Preston Dill, Raymond Ming, Raymond and Richard Knights, Clyde and Carlton Best, and many others that have eluded my memory
On behalf of all the former Island Rangers football team, I wish to thank you and your beautiful wife, Mrs Smith, for allowing us to believe in ourselves, for being that fatherly figure to us, and for putting us on the right path to improving ourselves to make a positive contribution to our society.
May God continue to bless you as He uses you to bless others.
CLARENCE “SYMO” “CHIPPER” SYMONDS