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Clyde Best documentary starts to film on island

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Clyde Best sits for interview as documentary of his life gets underway (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A documentary delving into the life and career of Bermuda footballing legend Clyde Best has started to film on island.

The feature-length documentary Transforming the Beautiful Game, The Clyde Best Story will catalogue the history of racial discrimination in English football through Best, who made a name for himself with Somerset Trojans before becoming a pioneer for black players at West Ham.

Best scored 46 goals in 186 appearances for the London club between 1968 and 1976 and the documentary features members of his family who helped him on his way, including his brother Carlton.

“Clyde seemed to be born for his journey to be the first black player at the top division in English football and to play with the greats of the game, such as Bobby Moore and Sir Geoff Hurst,” Best’s elder brother said. “It’s a long way from the small island of Bermuda, but he did it.”

Former Somerset team-mates Randy Horton, himself a former professional player with the New York Cosmos in the former North American Soccer League, and Clarence Symonds are among those also interviewed in the production.

National coach Kyle Lightbourne, who also had a professional stint with several clubs in England, also shares how Best had an influence on his own career.

Tim Crane, the West Ham historian and author, is on island to provide insight into Best’s influence on the club and professional football along with director Dan Egan.

The interviews conducted on island will be combined with those filmed abroad with international football legends, including Pelé, who played alongside Horton at New York Cosmos in the North American Soccer League, and former West Ham player and coach Harry Redknapp.

Clyde Best will be the subject of feature-length documentary

Egan travelled to Bermuda in April for the launch of the documentary while overseas interviews began last month with one of Best’s West Ham team-mates, Ade Coker, who went on to become an international for the United States.

In 1972, Best, Coker and Clive Charles made history when they became the first three black players to be included in the same line-up in a professional match in England for West Ham against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

“We are very excited to be filming interviews with a big roster of Bermudian talent; Clyde’s family and friends, and cultural influencers,” Egan said.

“I expect this week to be very insightful, inspirational and quite emotional. As we hear stories of Clyde’s past and listen to the inspiration he has had on others we feel the massive cultural impact he left in the United Kingdom and the world by overcoming the unrelenting issue of racism in the sport.”

In his autobiography, The Acid Test, Best spoke of the racial abuse he was exposed to during his stint in the English game.

In the book he recalls receiving a chilling letter from a football supporter threatening to throw acid in his face during the 1970-71 season.

“When you're a young player and you're giving the best you can – and then to be given a letter like that, it's mind-boggling,” Best told The Daily Mail.

“When I gave it to my boss [Ron Greenwood], I knew he was shocked. He had probably never experienced anything like that before. The good thing about the guys I played with, like Bobby [Moore], Geoff [Hurst], I think Ron would have told them and they came to my defence.

“They made sure that when we ran out, I was in a circle. And the police, they were fantastic. They made sure that, if it's going to come, it's going to have to go over the top of their heads.

“So they were putting themselves at risk. You have to be thankful to all those sorts of people, who had an interest in what I was doing. I tell people: ‘I couldn't do it by myself'.”

Persons or businesses interested in being involved and supporting the documentary are urged to visit www.ClydeBest.com.

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Published September 22, 2022 at 7:30 am (Updated September 22, 2022 at 7:30 am)

Clyde Best documentary starts to film on island

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