Mr Boaz Island and a member of the Three Musketeers
Sheldon Bradshaw, Clyde Best and myself joined forces with each other way back during our primary school days at the West End Primary School in Sandys Parish.
Sheldon lived on Clock Block in Boaz Island, while Clyde and myself lived in Dockyard.
Our close friendship started on the football field at the West End school field when we represented our school by playing against other primary schools and eventually winning the A and B League championship under the guidance of the late Tom Warren — and his assistant teacher in training, Randolph Horton.
During our teen years, we joined forces again by playing for the Island Rangers Football Club at Dockyard under the management of Edward “Icewater” Smith.
“Bully Beef”, as he was famously called by everyone, played in the left-back position because of his strong left-foot kick, along with his muscular physique that would frighten any opposition winger or forward that came in contact with him. But he hated that position because he wanted to be a goalkeeper.
After much begging and pleading with the coach, along with some bad goaltending that resulted in several goals in the high numbers per game let in by the other ’keepers, he was given his chance. The rest is now history.
During our younger days, the three of us joined the 1st Boaz Island Scout Troupe under the leadership of the late Alex Outerbridge. The scout troupe was under the umbrella of the Somerset Salvation Army.
We attended the annual camp near the Pilot Station in St David’s.
Each scout group had to collect firewood for their own club in order to prepare a fire for cooking, etc. Many groups could be seen with their axes, saws and hatchets to cut down branches so that a campfire could be made. But we did not need any tools because we had Sheldon Bradshaw in our group.
All we did was to point at a dry brush and Sheldon would use his Herculean strength and pull the dry brush out of the ground and the rest of us had to struggle to carry the brush back to camp.
During our secondary school year, the three of us decided to get out of Somerset by attending the Prospect Boys’ Secondary School, also known as Cunningham’s School — only because they finished the day at 2.30pm, which we liked. But after registering and being accepted into the school, they changed the school hours back to its normal time. What a disappointment it was for us, but we had no regrets after that.
Sheldon was well respected by all the students, staff, teachers and faculty. I think that his physique and his strength had a lot to do with that. He really was a gentle giant of a person.
Many times, we did not get home until after 9pm because we had football practice after school at Frog Lane Field. There were no buses running to Boaz Island and Dockyard from Somerset after a certain time during the evenings, so we would walk Sheldon home before Clyde and myself walked to Dockyard.
While the three of us were walking home, sharing and eating the pudding that we purchased together at Crow Lane Bakery, we would also share our dreams for the future with each other. Sheldon shared with us that he wanted to own his building construction company, mainly because he was spotted by then teacher Leon James while at Prospect Boys' Secondary School to have great skills to become a good mason while allowing the students to build stonewall planters within the school compound.
He also mentioned that some day he wanted to get married and to have his own family. He ended up marrying Madree, who was the apple of his eye.
We all know what Clyde's dreams were.
The three of us were selected and played rugby for the Pick of the Schools versus Kindley School. We beat them for the first time since the tournament was played. The late Tom Smith came over after the match and personally thanked us as we were the only three — The Three Musketeers — that represented our school.
Sheldon was also a great 100-yard sprinter and 220-yard runner. He was quick and strong.
Sheldon eventually played as a goalkeeper for the mighty Somerset Trojans football team. He was a fantastic goalkeeper. He took his training seriously and he always wanted to improve his performance, as he threw himself all over the ground even while training.
He did not say too much, but when he did, you knew that he was not happy with certain situations during the game. He made his feelings known at half-time in the dressing room and was the first one to give encouragement to the team while leaving the dressing room after voicing his concerns.
Even though Sheldon was a big, strapping guy, there was that soft spot in him.
I remember when we played against St George’s in a night match at PHC Stadium. One of our school colleagues, Michael "Foods" Jones, was challenging a 50-50 ball against Sheldon. To any experienced centre forward, or any forward for that matter, that is a no-no.
There was a collision and "Foods" ended up with a broken leg. Sheldon was very, very upset because it was his school team-mate from St George’s. It took us a long time to settle him down from that incident because you can see that he really was concerned. I had never seen that side of him before and it caused me to have an even greater respect for him, not only as a player but as a great friend.
When Sheldon was thinking about leaving Somerset and wanted to play for other clubs, he had asked for my opinion on that. Once he gave me his reasons for wanting to leave, I told him that he would have my support and that it would in no way change our friendship. We all missed him but his heart never changed. He would always be a Trojan.
Sheldon was an icon in the Boaz Island Clock Block and Dockyard areas. Everyone was so proud of him, especially when he represented Bermuda in the national team. He helped to give them hope and to show them the light at the end of the tunnel. The people in Boaz Island loved and respected him because of what he had achieved and also because of the calm, respectful manner in which he carried himself. He basically lived a simple life.
He will be missed by everyone, but I am just thankful that Sheldon "Bully Beef" Bradshaw played a positive part in my life and allowed his supporters to leave with smiles and satisfaction as their goalkeeper dived, tipped and blocked shots — all for them and his clubs.
Does Bully Beef Drive, Bully Beef Court or Sheldon Bradshaw Lane at Boaz Island have any possibilities? Just a thought.
Rest in peace, my Musketeer Brother.
CLARENCE “SYMO” “CHIPPER” SYMONDS