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Book opens window on to football’s rich past

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A glorious chapter in local football history has been immortalised in a book published by amateur photographer and author Steven A Forbes.

Between 1979 and 1982, Forbes attended football matches across the Island and took more than 1,200 photographs of some of the top players and teams of that era.

The many colourful and iconic pictures he took during that period are now featured in the 301-page pictorial titled, When Soccer was Football, which is due to go on sale after the first shipment arrives sometime over the next week or two.

Forbes's introduction to photography is just as fascinating as the colourful photos he snapped through the lens of a Nikon camera he purchased in his late teens.

It all started when he was inspired by a Catholic priest, from Saint Theresa's Cathedral, whom he came into contact with “hanging out” at the Pembroke Youth Centre.

“I can't remember his name, but his favourite team was Devonshire Cougars,” Forbes said. “He would go out to Devonshire Recreation Club, or wherever else Cougars were playing, and take their pictures and come back to the Youth Centre and show them to us and my fascination was ‘wow, a camera can do that?'

“The next week I went out and bought a camera, but knew nothing about what to do with it and so he gave me a crash course on how to use it, and from there I started going out to the games and tried to emulate what he did.

“It wasn't easy starting out. But every week I kept going back and realised that I was getting better and better capturing the action shots that I wanted.

“For 90 minutes you go out there and watch the game, and it was just me and the subjects and after the game I would take the negatives down to the developing company on North Shore in back of the General Bakery.”

Forbes's work was eventually recognised by the now defunct Bermuda Sun newspaper, which published some of the amateur photographer's photos.

“They never paid me for anything,” he said. “I just had a few black and white shots and that was it.

“I kept all my stuff which I did on my own and I just started compiling the photos over the years, so from 1979 to 1982 when I went overseas to college and that was basically the end of that.”

Forbes stored the negatives in the basement at his Ohio residence.

“I believe it was the perfect place for it because if I was still here the negatives would have been destroyed in the humidity,” he said.

One day Forbes's wife, Landi, encouraged him to publish his photos in a book, and he eventually started work on the publication in 2012 with the help of friends George Holdipp, Conrad Lister, Charles Clarke, Wayne Harris, Loretta Spence, Donald Dane and Arthur Douglas.

“My wife said, ‘put them in a book,' and one day it was like God said ‘listen, go back down there and look at those pictures' and so I went to the basement and it was like seeing them for the first time in a different light and eye,” he said. “I said ‘wow' looking at the background and reaction that I caught some of these guys in.

“This is our legacy, and what has probably been the hardest for me is sitting on this for so long and not having other people enjoy what I've been enjoying for years.”

Blast from the past: Lorenzo Symonds, the Devonshire Colts defender, thwarts a Hamilton Parish raid as, from left to right, Nicky Saunders, Noel Gibbons and Nolan Walker look on during a game at Lord's, St David's (Photograph by Steve Forbes)
Andrew Bascome showcasing his skills on the National Stadium 'carpet' for North Village
A rich history: Forbes
Hotels player Dennis McQuaid celebrates a goal at National Stadium with Billy Aberly.
Steven Riley, of Somerset Trojans, and Jack Castle, of PHC, in action

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Published December 15, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 14, 2015 at 10:48 pm)

Book opens window on to football’s rich past

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