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Devonshire Rec finally set to return to hosting night matches

Let there be light: The home of Devonshire Cougars will host night games again this weekend for the first time since 2016, after damage done to their lights by hurricanes (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

After a six-year absence, night football will return to Devonshire Recreation Club when Devonshire Cougars entertain Dandy Town tomorrow at 6.30pm.

Not since March 2016 has the ground hosted a night match, after their lights suffered hurricane damage. Those last matches were between Devonshire Colts and Dandy Town on March 17 and Cougars and Robin Hood on March 7 in the final few weeks of the 2015-16 season.

The Bermuda Football Association confirmed this week that next week’s Friendship and Shield preliminary matches will be held at the Rec. Hamilton Parish will meet BAA in the Shield at 6.30pm, followed by a Friendship tie between Cougars and Somerset Eagles at 9pm.

“Obviously it is a massive achievement. A monumental day for Devonshire Rec that we are now back as a night venue,” Mark Steede, the club president, told The Royal Gazette.

“We know what night football was like for Devonshire Rec previous to 2016. We can hear the community buzzing already, how happy everybody is to be able to say they can attend a Devonshire Rec match at night.

“Again, hats off to the committee at Devonshire Rec for getting that across the line. It’s a big one for our community.”

Steede added: “For those who can’t make it, the BFA has been live-streaming games, but we also wrote in for an exemption to allow more people into the ground. It will be massive for Devonshire and Bermuda as a whole!”

Steede explained that the poles still remain after being undamaged, but with new lights on them.

“There’s a brand new lighting infrastructure,” he revealed. “We kept the poles, the reason being if you look at the hurricane damage, historically our poles have not fallen.

“They have been tested and are technically sound, but we replaced all the wiring and all the lights.”

Sunday’s match will see third-placed Cougars taking on leaders Dandy Town in a match that could go a long way to deciding the title aspirations of Cougars.

Ironically, Dandy Town last won the league in that 2015-16 season. Steede says it is more than just about his club’s senior team, that the junior programme matters, too.

“The lighting infrastructure was really poor and was hitting our youth programme,” he added. “We’re happy to say that with the right lighting infrastructure our youth programme can grow from strength to strength as well.“Children’s training starts at 5.30pm when the sun is about to go down, so being able to afford that opportunity for our children and give them an outlet that we had when we were growing up is even bigger than having a night game at Devonshire Rec.

“These are my focuses as the president, because without a youth programme and youth structure there is no club. That’s one of the beliefs that I stand on, we have to continue to refresh and regenerate our youth programmes and our youth infrastructure around the club.”

A league match was played at night about 100 yards away on Wednesday night when Devonshire Colts hosted PHC on the north field of the National Stadium.

No doubt having the Rec available for night matches will ease the burden on the current two night venues with several make-up matches being scheduled. Goose Gosling Field and Somerset Cricket Club have been carrying the brunt of the night game load this season.

Devonshire Rec will hit the ground running, as they say, with next Sunday’s home match against St George’s also switched to a night match.

Five of their last six home matches in the league will be night games as the Rec hosts at least seven league and cup games between this Sunday and 
March 4.

This weekend’s matches could go a long way to deciding the title race, with third-placed Cougars hoping to stay in contention with a victory over leaders Town.

Town’s lead at the top has been cut to four points after PHC won their two make-up matches, while Cougars reclaimed third place from North Village with victory over Somerset Eagles on Wednesday night. They trail the leaders by seven points.

Robin Hood play PHC tonight at Goose Gosling Field (9pm), with the chance to move to within a point of Town ahead of Sunday’s remaining fixtures.

Tomorrow’s other matches will see St George’s, fifth, hosting fourth-placed North Village at Wellington Oval, Somerset at home to Devonshire Colts and Southampton Rangers meeting X-Roads at Southampton Oval in a battle between two relegation-threatened sides.

In the First Division, Wolves play Young Men’s Social Club today at Wellington Oval (3pm). Tomorrow, leaders Hamilton Parish take on winless Vasco at Wellington; St David’s meet BAA at Lord’s and bottom side Paget entertain Ireland Rangers at Southampton Oval as they continue their search for a first win of the season.

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Published January 29, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated January 28, 2022 at 10:10 pm)

Devonshire Rec finally set to return to hosting night matches

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