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Homage paid on Best’s big night

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Randy Horton was one of the dozens who came out last night to support Clyde Best, his former Somerset Trojans team-mate, at his book signing last night at Brown & Co, saying Best was deserving off all the accolades he has received over the years for a trailblazing professional career.

Horton, these days better known for putting out fires as the Speaker of the House as opposed to the havoc he wrought as a striker, played with Best in the 1960s before he embarked on a career in England with West Ham United.

The two would go on to play in the North American Soccer League in the 1970s, Best in Tampa, Portland and Toronto and Horton with the New York Cosmos, where he was a team-mate of Pelé.

Best, he says, always had something special about him as a young player with Somerset. “I coached him in the junior team before he went on to play in our senior team at Somerset,” Horton said.

“Clyde was just head and shoulders — not only in size — above the others. With his demeanour, he always had the right attitude, and that's half the battle when you are going to become a professional. It's not only about having high level of skill, but also a high level of attitude.”

The pair formed a formidable and intimidating front line for the Trojans, who were a dominant force in local football at the time. “There were a lot of players who were better than me, but what Clyde had was the right approach to the game that helped him to navigate the challenges that he had,” Horton said.

“What he went through, a lot of players were unable to deal with it because they didn't have the attitude of ‘I'm going to get there and not let anything get in my way'. He worked 200 per cent to get better and better. It had a lot to do with Clyde's upbringing. His father, who was from Barbados, had standards and if you knew Joe Best, he believed in discipline.

“As a player, I never saw anybody strike the ball like Clyde, even when watching guys playing today. At that time in Somerset, we had eight players in the national team. The game we played against USA at the National Stadium, I think there was eight of us in the starting line-up.”

Dozens turned out to get signed copies of Best's book, which details his career as a footballer and the challenges he faced as one of the first black players in the English game at the time. His success helped to open doors for other black players, including other Bermudians such as Shaun Goater, Kyle Lightbourne and Nahki Wells.

“I can tell you people in England love Clyde,” Horton said. “About four years ago, I was at a game in London — Fulham against West Ham — and a young black guy was sitting next to me and we started talking. I told him I was from Bermuda and he said, ‘Do you know Clyde Best?'. I told him I played with Clyde and he went on to say that ‘when Clyde Best was playing in London, whether you are for Spurs, Arsenal or Chelsea, we all root for Clyde Best. We all wanted to be like Clyde Best'.”

Devarr Boyles, the coach of North Village, passed up a training session last evening to take his first-team players to The Bookmart to meet Best. Boyles played in the Bermuda team when Best was the coach and recalls an incident at an airport in Miami in the late 1990s when the team were travelling to St Marten for a match.

“Over the PA system, they paged Clyde and when we got to our gate, somebody ran up to Clyde and said to him that he was his role model and how important he was to football,” Boyles said.

“It was a former professional player from the UK and he missed his plane because it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet Clyde. He heard that the Bermuda team was in the airport and knew that Clyde was coaching us. That was massive. Up to that point, I hadn't realised the magnitude of what Clyde had done.

“This was a training night for us but I decided to forgo training and we ran over here.”

Sir Clyde has the floor: Randy Horton, the Speaker of the House and a distinguished former team-mate, oversees Clyde Best signing one of several autographs at his book launch at The Bookmart in Brown & Co last night. The guests, young and old, came out of respect for one of football's great pioneers (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Clyde Best book signing (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Clyde Best book signing (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Clyde Best book signing (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Clyde Best book signing (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Clyde Best talks with the players from North Village at last night's book signing (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

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Published November 17, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated November 17, 2016 at 9:51 am)

Homage paid on Best’s big night

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