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Vasco’s return ‘good for football’

Almost 20 years after Clay Smith scored a hat-trick for Vasco da Gama against St David’s in their final match before disbanding in April 2000, the club are set to make a return to domestic football next season.

Vasco were voted in as provisional members at the Bermuda Football Association’s semi-annual Congress meeting at Devonshire Recreation Club on Tuesday night. The club’s return sparked mixed reaction among club representatives, although Dwight Basden, the former Vasco striker, welcomed the news.

Basden, who was deployed as an uncustomary goalkeeper for Vasco in that game 18 years ago, said: “It’ll be good for football, to see a good club like them come back, for sure,” Basden said.

“I was one of the last players to leave. Once the team folded, the BFA gave us transfers and I went back to Somerset Trojans.

“It was beautiful times there; I wouldn’t change anything. I played with some of the island’s top footballers.”

Basden spent almost a decade at Vasco, playing with the likes of Sammy Swan, Irving Burgess, Corey Hill, Donovan Livingston, Derek Stapley, Voorhees Astwood and the Caisey brothers, Albert, Clinton and Taur.

That 3-1 victory over St David’s enabled Vasco to finish sixth in the Premier Division that season, having already reached the final of the Dudley Eve Trophy, which they lost to Devonshire Colts 7-3 on aggregate in the two-leg final.

However, a lack of players after a mass exodus during that summer meant that Vasco could not field a team the next season.

That gave a reprieve to Southampton Rangers, who were one of three teams, relegated in the move to cut the top tier to eight clubs for the 2000-01 season.

Timmy Figureido, the former Bermuda goalkeeper, was another player with Vasco that season before leaving to join Basden at Somerset.

Vasco, who were first promoted to the top tier with St George’s in 1979, went on to win several trophies, including three league titles in four years between 1996 and 1999, the year before they folded. They also won the Triple Crown in 1997-98.

Vasco were widely believed then to have enticed players from other clubs with financial incentives, although club treasurer Edward Correia, who submitted Vasco’s request for re-entry to the league, has promised “not to solicit, poach or entice any player monetarily or otherwise from any affiliate club in order to form its team”.

Lone survivor: Timmy Figureido, who played for Vasco in their final season in the league in 2000, recently filled in for Robin Hood against Dandy Town. Tomiko Goater is seen scoring against the former Bermuda goalkeeper (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)