Bermuda’s shining star
One did not have to be a football fanatic to have been profoundly affected by the tributes to Clyde “Bunny” Best Sunday at the Fairmont Southampton Hotel. They were mind-blowing, soul-stirring even to friends and family, who thought they knew ‘something' beforehand about this giant of a man; this trail-blazing superstar.
Socially and culturally, the event was most fabulous. Full credit is due to the Somerset Cricket Club, Inc, and its inspired president Alfred Maybury. He called it the start of an effort to ensure that present and future generations get a personal, up front Clyde “Bunny” Best experience while he's alive, well and in full circulation. Note adjoining extracts from the Bunny Best Biography by Mrs. Dianne Hunt. Highlights bared Sunday pertained to the launch of a scholarship named after the legend; a government-approved renaming of a street in his honour; Bermuda Football Association's Clyde Best Centre for Excellence under construction at the National Stadium in Prospect.
Master of Ceremonies at the $125 a plate dinner on Sunday was Robert K Horton. He got things to a great start noting that while for the next five weeks or so, the eyes of the world will be on Brazil and the World Cup, where many of the greatest football players of the world would be exhibiting their prodigious skills. But tonight Bermuda's sporting world is focused upon the Mid-Atlantic Theatre here at the Fairmont Southampton Hotel as we gather to honour a Somerset, a Bermuda hero, the inimitable Clyde Cyril “Bunny” Best, our shining star, our football icon, a living legend among us, a man whose contribution to football is, I submit, as great if not greater than that of any of the current galaxy of stars in Brazil.
At this point Mr Horton called on the gathering to rise, ‘as we welcome our honoree, Clyde Cyril “Bunny” Best, MBE, one whose desire, dream and vision took him to the pinnacle of soccer and positioned him to be such a wonderful example to generations of football players not only here in Bermuda, but throughout the world.
Clyde was roundly applauded as he made his dramatic appearance with his wife Alfreda on his left arm and daughter Kimberley. Earlier arrivals were his sisters Marie, Eileen, Carolyn and Joanne, his brother Kamel (Carlton), his aunt Mrs Sylvia Smith, his nieces and nephews and the host of other members of the distinguished Best clan.
Also in attendance at the banquet were the Hon Patricia J Gordon Pamplin, JP, MP, Minister of Public Works; the Hon K H Randolph Horton, JP, MP, Speaker of the House of Assembly; the Hon Dennis P Lister, JP, MP, Opposition Member and former Minister of Works and Engineering.
Seated at Clyde's table were SCC President Alfred Maybury and wife; Neil Paynter, President of St George's Cricket Club, and Mrs Paynter; also close friends Earl “Townsey” Russell and Calvin “Bummy” Symonds; and Jamacian Ambassadors from New York, Mr. Leonard “Chicken” Mason and Carl Wilson.
Master of Ceremonies Horton, who took time out from his studies in the UK to see Clyde in action, recalled a Tottenham vs West Ham game that he had attended at White Hart Lane in North London on 15August, 1970.
“I was absolutely torn: on the one hand, as a fervent and life long Tottenham supporter, I very much wanted Spurs to win. On the other, I was praying that Clyde would score because it was Clyde! I was bursting with pride to see him playing alongside the great English footballer Jimmy Greaves before 54,000 roaring fans at White Hart Lane. The images will remain with me forever. The game ended in a tie: Spurs 2 West Ham 2, so I left the stadium satisfied.”
Several tributes were revealed by the MC from persons unable to attend. First was from Winston J R Jones, ace sports commentator. He remarked:
“Mr Best, thank God that you understood the thoughts of the Poet John Milton, when he penned the words, ‘They also serve who only stand and wait.' At a time when too many of us were simply satisfied to only talk about the unfortunate circumstances of the 1960s and 70s, you Sir, did more than that.
“Clyde, you strapped on your boots and you changed the world forever. Clyde Best, you are one of those people who make me proud to be Bermudian. Congratulations to you, Clyde, Alfreda, Kimberley, the Best Family, Somerset Cricket Club and all of those concerned with the launching of the Clyde Best Scholarship.
“And look! You are about to change the world again. Hundreds of boys and girls will now realize their dreams. I hope we will all come together again very soon and on that occasion, to change the manner in which you are called. On that occasion to add a very, small word. Perhaps the biggest, small word in our culture. ‘Sir Clyde Bonnie Best'.
“Congratulations! And, God bless you!” concluded Winston Jones.
There were video tributes from former students and colleagues at Irvine Valley College and Woodbridge High School, Irvine, Southern California where Clyde coached in the early 90s.