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Nahki’s come a long way from St John’s Field

IT'S a long way from the patchy, well-worn pitch on St John's Road to the lush turf of Wembley but 22-year-old Nakhi Wells is about to step into what might be considered the most iconic of all stadiums for a second time in the space of three months.

The vast majority of football professionals will never get to savour that experience.

They'll never get the opportunity to play before the football masses who create such a unique atmosphere when that famed ground opens its doors.

What should have been a memorable Wembley occasion, the League Cup final in February, proved something of a bitter sweet 90 minutes for the young Bermudian.

Fourth tier Bradford City defied all odds to reach the final — a feat which may never be repeated. But on the biggest stage of all, Wells and his team-mates suffered a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Swansea City.

Shackled by a resolute defence, Nakhi never got a look-in. It might have been his most tepid performance in what otherwise has been an outstanding season.

The form which sent three Premier League clubs packing in previous rounds deserted the Bantams. On their big day they were simply outclassed.

Not that they would have been overly disappointed. The odds were heavily stacked against them and the Welsh side weren't about to slip such coveted trophy out of their hands.

This weekend, however, Bradford will be performing on, quite literally, a level playing field.

In the League Two play-off final, Bradford take on a Northampton team which finished just one place ahead of them.

This time, for Bradford at least, the stakes are much higher than before ... particularly for the former Dandy Town man.

With the likes of Crystal Palace, themselves involved in a play-off which could be worth millions of dollars should they secure place into the Premier League, Bournemouth and Burnley eyeing the prolific striker, it could be a career changing day.

In three appearances against Northampton this season, Wells has netted each time. It's fair to say he's been the Cobblers bogeyman.

A repeat performance tomorrow could catch the eye of even more scouts.

Once again Bermuda will be watching, hoping he can inch closer to footsteps left by Clyde Best and Shaun Goater.

* * *

THE furore that erupted over the proposed name change of the May 24 Marathon Derby shouldn't have come as a surprise to either the governing body of athletics or the sponsors.

There are two sports events in Bermuda so embedded in tradition that they are not open to interference.

The Derby is one, the other Cup Match.

So when organisers and long time financial backers, law firm Appleby, decided to rename the historic race, they should have been prepared for the backlash.

While Appleby have given the event unprecedented support — and nobody should underestimate that support — they can't honestly have believed the public would endorsed that change.

For more than 100 years, the May 24 Marathon Derby has been just that — the May 24 Marathon Derby. Not the Bermuda Day Marathon, not the Bermuda Day Half-Marathon, and certainly not the Appleby Bermuda Day Half-Marathon.

In a Dale Butler's book, tracing the history of the race and published in 1999, it is rightly referred to as the May 24 Marathon Derby. It’s title is ‘The May 24th Bermuda Marathon Derby Classic’.

Sadly the organisers are attempting to call it something entirely different.

Similarly, the summer cricket classic always has been and always will be known as Cup Match.

Regardless of who wants to sponsor the game, they are not about to rebrand it.

It's the same with the Olympics, the World Cup, or the Super Bowl.

The likes of Pepsi, IBM, various airlines and countless other companies would dearly love to the stamp their names on such sporting showpieces. But it won't happen simply because the public won't allow it.

Bermudians are no different than the rest of the world in this respect.

The hundreds of runners who take part in the race, the hundreds of volunteers, and the thousands spectators who line the route, no doubt appreciate Appleby's support, not least because it makes it a better race in terms of both organisation and the prizes on offer.

And that support should be recognised at every opportunity, but not at that expense of tradition.

ADRIAN ROBSON

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Published May 17, 2013 at 1:12 pm (Updated May 17, 2013 at 1:11 pm)

Nahki’s come a long way from St John’s Field

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