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Devarr Boyles hopes upgrades will signal more success for Western Stars

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Devarr Boyles, president of Western Stars Sports Club, with a photograph of “The Barn”, the wooden clubhouse at St John's Field that was replaced in the mid-1980s. The picture hangs on the wall at the club (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Dandy Town’s emergence as a force in local football coincided with the building of the new clubhouse in the mid-1980s.

Devarr Boyles, the president of Western Stars Sports Club, whose ground will undergo major upgrading starting next month (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)
Devarr Boyles, president of Western Stars Sports Club, with a photograph of “The Barn”, the wooden clubhouse at St John's Field that was replaced in the mid-1980s. The picture hangs on the wall at the club (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)
St John's Field, which has been closed since last summer and will undergo major upgrades to the field and clubhouse starting next month (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Now the club management is excited that further upgrading of their St John’s facility will take them to bigger and better things.

Work to replace the old wooden structure started in 1983 under president Elroy Ratteray and was completed in 1986 under his successor, Sheridan Smith.

Devarr Boyles, the president today, remembers the old structure and was still a youth player in the mid-1980s when the club won their first senior trophy, the FA Cup in 1986-87. That was followed by first league and Martonmere Cup titles in 1987-88 and a maiden Friendship Trophy success in 1990-91.

More than 30 years on, the club can boast eight Premier Division titles — the fourth most behind PHC (11), Somerset (10), and North Village (9) — as well as five FA Cup and four Friendship Trophy titles. Their ten Martonmere Cup titles makes them joint record winners with North Village, including four since 2012 after the competition was rebranded the Dudley Eve Trophy.

Obviously, it is a proud record for a club whose cricket team previously enjoyed most of the success.

“Yes, I remember the clubhouse, it was green,” Boyles said. “I remember the bathroom inside that didn’t really work and holes in the floor.

“I was 12 years old when I first came to play for Dandy Town. This building didn’t really happen until around 1985.”

Over the years the club produced some outstanding cricketers and footballers, such as the Manders brothers — Arnold, Andre and Anthony — Jeff and Wayne Richardson, Gregory Sampson, Gregory Francis, Roger Leverock and Gary Brangman, who were part of the cricket team led by stalwart Randy Butler.

“Western Stars continue to hope that we can promote role models,” Boyles said this week during the announcement that redevelopment work on the ground and clubhouse will begin next month. “Just recently we had the passing of Anthony Manders, and for those here at the club, and the wider community, he was certainly that.”

Corey Hill’s planning and development consultancy company, Sure, brought Gorham’s and Western Stars together for the project.

Hill, a former Dandy Town footballer who played alongside Boyles, said: “After 20 years in the planning department, I have been running my own planning and development consultancy business.

“I was working on another smaller project with Steve Christofoli, the project manager at Gorham’s, and he mentioned that Gorham’s wanted to improve their parking area and mobility around the property on the Western Stars side, and would need to encroach to make it happen.

“I had always known of the history of flooding at St John’s because of my successful playing days there and the desire of some members to improve the facility. Plus, the club holds a special place in my heart for giving me my start in senior football.

“I looked at it as a way of giving back to the community. Therefore, I pitched an idea to Gorham’s that can create a win-win situation for everyone. It involved, Gorham’s, Western Stars and Government, by way of Gorham’s laying a new playing surface in exchange for the right to use that strip of land owned by Government that was of no use to anyone to create their additional parking area at no cost to Government or Western Stars.”

Hill added: “As such the team at Gorham’s gave me the green light to bring the stakeholders together and, as they say, the rest is history. If we want to improve the standard of sport on the island, these types of partnerships are mandatory moving forward.”

Boyles, who was previously both the coach of the football team and then the president, did reveal that the club is shifting its focus from just a sports club to a facility that serves the wider Pembroke community through health and fitness.

“What happens to most clubs in Bermuda is we don’t have the structure in place to harness what we’re about to harness here,” said Boyles, a teacher at nearby Berkeley Institute. “That’s why the Roots Foundation will be critical to managing that.

“We’re a sports club, so it makes sense to have physiotherapy services there. We’re going to really push wellness, which will be the future revenue generator for us.”

Boyles added: “We’re hoping this model will be the start of similar models across Bermuda. Most clubs rely on proceeds from sport to meet operational costs, but what we’ve found over the years, it is not sustainable long-term.

“By having Gorham’s come and redevelop the field, the field will be the lifeblood of the facility. Because we’re a sports club, we’re not going to be using the purpose-built facility from 8am to 5pm, but we’re hoping that retired members of this community can use it.

“Gorham’s is doing everything. Ideally, we were supposed to start in September, but everything is pushed back.

“Lights are also part of the plan, but all of this is subject to affordability.”

Boyles revealed that the bar at the club, which is usually a main income generator, has been closed for more than a year. No football matches have taken place at the club this season as the club prepares for the redevelopment work, with the senior and junior players training at nearby school fields.

Now the club is in the process of finding an alternative home venue for the cricket team to play their home matches this summer, with the field expected to be out of service for the next two years while work is done.

“We haven’t finalised where the home field will be,” Boyles said. “We’re looking at three sites.”

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Published February 13, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated February 12, 2021 at 7:37 pm)

Devarr Boyles hopes upgrades will signal more success for Western Stars

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