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Kenneth Richardson and his lifelong devotion to Devonshire Colts

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Kenneth Richardson clears off the line in a Devonshire Colts match in the 1960s at Devonshire Rec. Goalkeeper is Lionel “Eggs” Darrell
Kenneth Richardson clears off the line in a Devonshire Colts match in the 1960s at Devonshire Rec after goalkeeper Lionel “Eggs” Darrell is beaten.

Kenneth Richardson not only made a significant contribution to Bermuda as the island’s first Black Cabinet Secretary, but was also remembered as a founding member of Devonshire Colts Football Club in 1957.

Kenneth Richardson's Devonshire Colts: Back row, from left: Phillip Galloway (deceased), Donald Dane (coach), Larry Smith, Clarence Saunders, Calvin “Bums” Simmons (deceased), Oliver Casey, Marcus Douglas, Gordon Cholmondeley, Walter Joe Stevens (manager), Kenneth Richardson (manager). Front row, from left: John “Kirk” Bartram (deceased), Cecil “Junks” Durham, Carlton “Pepe” Dill, Willis Cann (deceased), Albert Dowling and Eugene Durham

Carlton “Pepe” Dill, one of the top footballers of his generation, was a Devonshire Colts youth player when the club was formed with a group of students primarily from Howard Academy. Richardson was one of the key figures behind the club, along with founders Edward DeJean and Braxton Burgess, who were principal and physical education teacher respectively at Howard.

Dill returned to Colts in the mid-1960s when the club was revived and entered the league, getting promoted from the Second Division in their first season. Dill recalls Richardson, the club secretary, being influential in getting him to play for Houston Stars in the North American Soccer League after the Pan Am Games in Quebec in 1967.

“He did a lot for me as an individual, like when I went overseas to play professionally,” Dill recalls.

Richardson passed away three weeks ago at the age of 82 after a long period in public service began in 1964 when he became a schoolteacher.

“He had a lot to do with me making such a decision and I always remembered him for that,” Dill added. “He was an administrator from the original Devonshire Colts when I was still a teenager.

“Eddie DeJean and Braxton Burgess were the primary coaches [of Colts]. I wasn’t old enough to be part of the team, though I was around. I was like the ballboy or water boy.”

Dill recalls the original Devonshire Colts dissolving before forming again a couple of years later and entering the BFA league. “Kenneth Richardson was involved with the original Colts and was a full back,” Dill explained.

“When I was approached about playing professionally, Kenneth was the secretary of Devonshire Colts and was around at all times. He was the one who negotiated for me and the two teams who came in for me — Philadelphia Spartans and Houston Stars — in 1967.

“Graham Adams, who was the coach of the national team, asked Houston to hold off speaking to me until after our national commitments were somewhat completed. But before Graham spoke to me, Philadelphia approached me, which was my first knowing of any team being interested in me playing professional for them.

“I accepted Philadelphia’s invitation and was to leave Bermuda and go to England to train with the team. But when Houston heard about this, they wrote Bermuda and got hold of Ken, asking how I made the decision when they were waiting for me to reply since the Pan American Games.

“They asked if I come to Houston to play in a friendly game over the weekend. Between Ken, myself and Houston we made a decision and I ended up going to Houston. Ken was involved in the contract talks with Houston, then he advised me which way he thought I should go.”

Dill added: “He played a major part. We’ve always had a very good relationship — him, his wife, Brenda, and the children. That was the kind of relationship that existed within Devonshire Colts.”

Richardson also assisted Gary Darrell, another former Colts player, in negotiating his contract when he played in the North American Soccer League. He travelled overseas to see both Dill and Darrell play in international matches. Richardson also saw Clyde Best play for West Ham United while he was studying in Manchester.

While he was a teacher at Sandys Secondary, Richardson used to teach members of the Colts team in his living room when he and wife Brenda lived at Cox’s Hill. Games nights and gatherings were a constant in the Richardson residence, especially before and after key matches.

There was a strict no-drinking policy at club events, with a team savings account established at Mutual Associates to help foster financial acumen at the club.

DeJean’s philosophy at Devonshire Colts was to harness the learning potential of the student through the application of sporting activity and competition. His vision was to use sport as a platform for motivating longer periods of concentration and instilling important life lessons about teamwork and fair play.

With this vision at the forefront of their training, DeJean and Burgess groomed the all boys’ school football team to become one of the best in Bermuda. After their successes at school level, the Howard Academy team moved on to participating in practice matches with local men’s football teams.

The students subsequently had a yearning to form a Bermuda Football Association league team. Richardson, in his capacity as the secretary and founding member, completed the various application forms to gain admission into the league.

Through perseverance and after exhaustive meetings with BFA executives, the Devonshire Colts team was registered with the BFA. It proved to be quite a feat, as the BFA did not typically register school-age boys into the league.

Richardson designed the team crest while Cecil “Junks” Durham, the captain, chose the Colts colours of orange and white. Del Trott, the father of future Bermuda cricketers and Colts players Mark and Roger, was another original member of the club while Walter “Joe” Stevens was the president.

“Donald Dane [coach], ”Joe“ Stevens and Kenneth Richardson were the three who carried Devonshire Colts forward,” Dill said.

Dane took over as coach when he returned from school and was in a player-coach role when the team got promoted from the Second Division.

Ironically, Dane, Stevens and Richardson all had stints as educators. “Kenny and I worked at Sandys Secondary together,” Stevens recalled.

“Kenny and I were involved in the first Colts, under Mr DeJean. We all went away to school after that; Kenny and I went from Howard Academy to Howard University and were there for four years.

“When we got home we decided to put Colts together again, after folding while we were abroad. He was secretary and I was president.

“Kenny was the person who guided us in the sense of putting us in good positions. As the secretary he was well known and we were able to get a lot of things through him.

“He was one of the friends you would have for life. The main thing is we always thought of Colts as Howard Academy, because most of the players went to Howard Academy. There were just schoolboys when we first formed.

“Kenny was a hard worker. When he was supposed to do something, it got done. He got along with everybody.”

Some of the original Colts players were Calvin “Bumps” Simmons, Alexander Romeo, goalkeeper Lionel Darrell, Raymond Morgan, Arnold Todd, Onslow Grant, Charles Phipps, Edgar Fox, Clarence Richardson and Leroy “Nibs” Lewis, who went on to become a legendary coach with PHC Zebras.

The design and ethos of the team were of vital importance to the founders, with Richardson also designing and ordering their first official jerseys. His brother-in-law, Earlston “Scratchie” Lawrence, fittingly named the team Devonshire Colts, given the relative youth of the players and the parish where most of them resided.

Durham selected the colours to “ensure the team was immediately recognisable and distinct from all other teams in the league”. When the team made their maiden appearance, the crowd jokingly dubbed them “Hallowe’en Boys”.

Notably, the team entered the BFA Cup that first year. A few top players from Berkeley Institute — Arnold Todd, Alexander Romeo, Onslow Grant, Lionel Darrell — as well as a player from St George’s Secondary, Philip Pearson, were invited to play in this first team.

In the quarter-finals, the Colts team won a thrilling game against Wellington Rovers, the previous BFA champions. As a testament to their technical ability the following Devonshire Colts players made the 1957 BFA Select team: Onslow Grant, Arnold Todd, Del Trott and Alexander Romeo.

Two years after the inception of the team, many of the founding members went off to university and the club became largely inactive. When the founding members completed university and returned to Bermuda, they were encouraged to revive the club and the team has been in continuous operation since that time.

At readmission, the reformed team had to enter into the BFA’s Second Division. After one season there, they went up to the First Division, at which stage some of the original team members retired.

Durham captained Devonshire Colts from their inception through to the restructuring until his retirement as a player. Of the various founding members, “Bumps” Simmons enjoyed the longest spell as a player owing to his tremendous level of fitness.

The founding members had an incredibly strong bond given their shared core values around education, respect for each other and the game, and a determination to succeed on and off the pitch. Further, all the parents and guardians of the players also played critical supporting roles to the team, whether preparing food, washing clothes, hosting game nights or car pooling.

Since inception, Devonshire Colts have not only had a significant presence on the football field, but followed the original philosophy of combining sport with learning.

Kenneth Richardson, his son, Andrew, and his grandson, Ajani Richardson, all played football with Devonshire Colts. The youngest grandson, David Richardson Augustus, is an under-nine defensive player and goalkeeper, marking three generations of dedication to the club.

Colts have won numerous titles over the years, including three league championships,, five FA Cups and four Friendship Trophy successes. They were also the first winners of the Martonmere Cup in 1972-73, beating Somerset Trojans 3-2 in the final.

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Published April 09, 2021 at 8:40 am (Updated April 09, 2021 at 8:40 am)

Kenneth Richardson and his lifelong devotion to Devonshire Colts

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