This article was taken from our archives. It originally appeared in the August 2002 issue of The Bermudian. It appears here exactly as it did in print originally.
The 2002 Cup Match will be cause for double celebration. Not only is it the 100th anniversary of Bermuda’s best-known sporting festival, but this year also marks the 100th anniversary of Somerset Cricket Club itself. While perennial rival St. George’s Cricket Club was formally organised in 1892, it was not until 10 years later that Somerset Cricket Club was officially formed, growing out of friendly annual matches organised by rival lodges of the Grand United Order of Oddfellows as part of the celebrations to mark Emancipation Day, August 1, 1834.
The late Percival St.George Ratteray, a longserving member of Somerset Cricket Club and one of the former authorities on Cup Match, wrote: “It was the game in 1901 between the two brother lodges that sparked the beginning of Cup Match. The game, played on the Royal Engineers (or Garrison) Field in St. George’s was exciting from beginning to end, with one side winning by one run with the last man in.
“After the heat was over and the shaking of hands and congratulations extended for a fine victory, a suggestion was made that a Cup be played for annually. Subsequently a meeting of the two sides was held in Market Square, St. George’s and the idea formally adopted and rules laid down. It was agreed that in the first year, 1902, three two-innings games be played in June, July and August with the Cup going to the winner of the best of three games; and that from 1903 there would be one game, with the winner retaining the Cup until wrested by the other side.”
Writing in the 40th anniversary programme, one of the 1901 players, Thomas Durrant, credits St. George’s player Arthur Clifford “Brodie” Smith, with the idea of an annual trophy. “For about 20 years, Somerset was only a name but when the Cup arrived from Gold Smith & Co. [of England for a reported 20 guineas], it became an organisation and T. Symonds was unanimously elected captain,” he wrote.
According to Percival St. George Ratteray, “although some of the best cricketers belonged to the lodges, there were many, and better, who did not. So once the annual Cup Match was decided upon … they decided to form their own club for the competition of the game whereby they could pick the best player from their respective parishes.”
The club’s colours were chosen, according to club legend, because “the Blue comes from the darkest which runs though the red which goes though the Fire into the Light.” The club’s chosen motto was Semper Paratus (Always Ready).
No exact records survive, but it is believed the club was formed in June 1902. According to the Jubilee Cup Match brochure of 1952, Willie Tucker was its first president, and Henry T. Cann, who had actually ordered the trophy from England, was its first secretary. Other club records, however, indicate that Thomas Durrant may have been the first president.
Norris Cann, at 96 the club’s oldest living member, says the club was formed with 25 members who each paid 25 shillings annual dues and that cricket wasn’t the only motive. “They had to form a proper club in order to sell liquor!” he says. In fact, he and Arnim “Sam Porgy” Smith, the oldest surviving player from either club, still pop into the club on a Friday night for a social drink.
The year that Norris Cann became a member, 1926, was also a landmark year for the club as it took the then unusual step for a recreation club of incorporating. Under the Somerset Cricket Club Act 1926, the club could now own property “provided that the land acquired and held by the said Club shall not exceed ten acres.”
Updated photo of Somerset Cup Match team. Judging from the attire and the fact that Warren Simmons, skipper from 1919 to 1932, is holding the trophy, the photo probably dates from the early 1920s.
Somerset won the toss to host the first game in 1902, at Royal Naval Field, across the road from its present ground, and won the best-ofthree series, only to lose it in 1903. Durrant wrote of Symonds, better known as “Vice”: “A better leader one would not desire to serve; a man of few words but great deeds.” Durrant himself was captain in 1904 when Somerset went to St. George’s and wrested the Cup back again.
Cup Match quickly became an institution and for the first half century of the game, Somerset reigned supreme. Until they established a 19-year grip on the trophy in 1960, St. George’s only won the match 15 times.
Norris Cann was eight-years-old when he saw his first Cup March, in 1914. “My uncle took me on the Neptune down to St. George’s. Somerset won by 10 wickets, brought the Cup back and it stayed up here for six years. I remember the old army barracks being right next to the Garrison Field and they was all down there on the Friday afternoon watching the game. In the middle of the afternoon, the bugle went. All the army fellows got up and went into barracks. No one knew what it was about. There were rumours that there was a fight and they’d been called in. They came to find our afterwards that England had gone to war.”
In contrast to the T-shirt and shorts (or even less!) preferred by todays’ Cup Match spectators, the event was a more dignified affair in Norris Cann’s day. “It was a special day,” he recalls. “At that time, a lot of people came up by horse and buggy. Some people would have their cab hired from this Cup Match to the next. We always went to Cup Match all dressed up. My father always wore his tie and collar. The old-timers wouldn’t think of going down to St. George’s without a necktie. They had linen suits and panama hats.”
It was during their dominating pre- and postwar period that legends were made of Somerset players like Warren Simmons, his son Lloyd Simmons, Alma “Champ” Hunt, his brother Amon “Red” Hunt, Nathan A. “Knocks” Proctor, Winton “Timmy” Edwards, Nigel “Chopper” Hazel and Arthur Simons. Edwards, who hit an unbeaten 170 in 1950- the highest score by a Somerset player until Janeiro Tucker’s epic 186 last year- still works at the club as a groundsman at the age of 73. Tucker also comes from good Somerset lineage. His father is John Tucker, Somerset Captain in the 1980s, and his great great-uncle was none other than John “Hodder” Simons who played in the very first Cup Match for Somerset.
It is Warren Simmons, though, who looms largest in the club’s history. A superb mediumpace bowler and an aggressive late-order batsman, Simmon played Cup Match from I1910 until 1932 and was captain from 1919. No Somerset player has topped his career 94 wickets or his 7 wickets for 16 in the 1922 Match. He played in the Bermuda XI against the 1913 touring Australians as a 20-yeat old and was later president of both the club and the Cricket Board of Control for 20 years, earning an MBE and numerous other honours for his services to cricket and the community.
He was the first former club president to have been granted the title of honorary president. His successor, Alfred Simmons, the only other president to have been accorded the honour, said of him at a 1976 testimonial banquet: “The expression ‘That’s not cricket’ could never be applied to Warren, but the expression ‘That IS cricket’ would be tailor-made for this exceptional man.”
Warren Simmons, whose photograph still takes pride of place in the club’s committee room, died in 1981, having lived to see both his son Lloyd Simmons and grandson Randy Horton captain winning Somerset sides. His son-in-law Kenneth Horton (Randy’s father) was one of Somerset’s best wicketkeepers in the 1940s.
“My grandfather had his heart and soul in Somerset Cricket Club,” recalls Randy, now Government’s Minister of Community Affairs and Sport and a radio commentator on Cup Match for ZBM. “I don’t remember him hardly ever missing a league game, cricket or soccer, and he never missed Cup Match. I didn’t know him as a player, but as a person and a role model he was the epitome of what a good, solid man could be in terms of hard work and integrity. Champ Hunt always said the most impressive thing about my grandfather was his decisiveness.
“When he was playing, he had the Simmons’ Ice Cream Factory in Somerset. In those days, they made the ice cream by hand so on Cup Match, he would make the ice cream, deliver it to the stalls at the game and then go home, get changed and come back and play the match.”
It was during Warren Simmons’ presidency that the club bought its present ground on Cricket Lane and built the imposing pink and blue clubhouse, officially opened by Governor Sir Ralph Leatham on January 8, 1948, on the ground where his mother Emily’s house had once stood. Before then the club’s headquarters had been on the ground floor of the now derelict former Fairview Hotel, next to the Royal Naval Field, that was also run as a boarding house by Henrietta Durrant.
The club bought the land from the estate of Edward Crawley in 1946 and levelled the ground with the help of a bulldozer loaned by the US Naval Air station in Southampton. Designed by Vincent Lee and built by local contractor James Horron, the clubhouse is now listed as a building of historical significance and described by the Bermuda National Trust as “an imposing building of dignity and presence” that projects “an aura of warmth and bonhomie perfectly suited to such an institution.”
All dressed up for a club president’s ball in the 1950s, committee members and partners, left to right: Alfred Simmons, Warren Simmons, Joan Simmons (Warren’s wife), Grinnell Simmons (Alfred’s wife), Lavella Douglas, “Mutt” Douglas, Anita Smith, Irene Young, Leroy Smith, Eric Young and Islowe Wade.
Like Warren Simons, Champ Hunt also later became an influential president of the Cricket Board of Control and was honoured with an OBE for his services to cricket. All rounder Champ, one of four Hunt brothers to play Cup Match, was arguably the finest cricketer Somerset ever produced. He was good enough to have been invited in 1933 for a rtial with the West Indian Test team but despite scoring 50, he was not chosen because Bermuda’s Board was not formally affiliated with the West lndies Board. He later played professionally for Aberdeenshire in Scotland and in 1941, scored the first Cup Match century by a Somerset player (104).
In addition to Cup Match and regular league cricket – the club was on of the eight founder members of the old Somers Isle Cricket League, and its last league triumph was in 1984- Somerset Cricket Club has played host to many famous touring teams, from MCC teams to Allan Border’s Australians, the great Viv Richards in his prime, and a teenaged future England captain Michael Atherton, who was on the losing side when Bermuda, led by future Somerset and Bermuda captain Albert Steede, won a memorable International Youth Tournament final in 1985.
Arguably Somerset’s most famous match took place at Prospect in 1933 when they took on a star-studded Sir Julien Cahn’s’ XI. It was the first English team ever to visit Bermuda and Cahn, a cricketing philanthropist, included the likes of England Test spinners I.A.R. Peebles and R.M.V Robins and the legendary writer E.W. Swanton in his team.
Swanton later described the bowling of Champ Hunt and Arthur Simons “next to unplayable” as they took seven wickets between them and Cahn’s XI were bowled out for 85. However Robins and Peebles each shared five wickets apiece as Somerset were bowled out three runs short in a thrilling match.
Although cricket was the predominant sport at the club during its first half-century, football grew steadily in significance. Today, Somerset Cricket Club is as synonymous with the Somerset Trojans football team as it is with cricket. The Trojans-a nickname given by sports commentator Joe L. Brown in the 1970s-dominated Bermuda soccer to such an extent during the 1960s and 1970s that Somerset was nicknamed ‘Silver City’ on account of the number of trophies it collected. Football, whose crowds far outnumber those of league cricket, is now the club’s major money-earner.
As with cricket, the club has hosted many famous teams on tour. Alex Ferguson brought his Bryan Robson-vintage Manchester United team here in 1987, a young Paul as Gascoigne graced the turf with Newcastle United and Glen Hoddle) strutted his stuff here with Tottenham Hotspur. The clubhouse walls are hung with fading reminders of other glorious visits by then European Champions Celtic, Arsenal, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest as well as signed photos of the club and Bermuda’s most famous soccer son, Clyde “Bonny” Best, who starred for West Ham United in England’s First Division in the 1960s, but who also once played Cup Match as a teenager in 1966 and 1968.
The club’s football connections go back to the West End Rovers, a team started by Somerset club member Cyril Philpott and West End School headmaster Charles Snaith in the early 1930s that played at Daniel’s Head and later West End school. Famous for later kicking off the career of national team players like Kenny Cann and Rudy Minors (Finance Minister Eugene Cox was another prominent player), the Rovers eventually made their home at Somerset Cricket Club in the 1950s.
Former club coach Myron Bean recalls: “This was not a popular decision among the cricket fraternity who felt that this was an infringement on their hallowed turf. One old committee member was said to have commenced, ‘They’ll play football on that field over my dead body.’ I don’t recall if he was still alive when that day arrived.”
In the late 1950s, Somerset Cricket Club formed its own youth team, the Somerset Colts. Coached by the brilliant Conrad Simons, they played in the second division of the old black Bermuda Football League and launched the careers of Randy Horton, Clyde Best, and many others.
When the black and white league were integrated as the Bermuda Football Union in 1963, it was stipulated that a club could not have two teams in one division, and so Rovers and Colts were amalgamated and became simply Somerset Cricket Club with Simons as coach. The result was a soccer powerhouse that swept all before it, including three straight Triple Crowns of league championship, FA Challenge Cup and Friendship Trophy in 1967- 68, 1968-69 and 1969-70. In addition to Horton, who would go on to play professionally with the New York Cosmos of the NASL, names of players like Lionel “Baldy” Smith, Kenny Cann, Larry Hunt, Bubba Daniels, Rudy Minors, Bernard Brangman, lyde “Tango” Burgess, Dwayne “Tricks” Richard and Reggie Tucker still evoke misty-eyed memories among older fans. The club provided no less than nine members of Bermuda’s Silver medal-winning Pan-Am Games team of 1967.
Over the years, the club has seen other sports come and go like netball, volleyball,billiards and womens’ soccer. There was a thriving softball programme that produced several members of Bermuda’s Big Blue Machine Pan-Am Games gold medal-winning team of 1979, including Yvette Brangman, now the club’s official cricket scorer, and Diane Hunt, who chairs the club’s recently-established education committee that plans to set up after-school programmes at the club.
The latter hints at the social changes that have impacted on the club in recent years.
“It was more of an older men’s club in those days,” recalls Norris Cann. “The younger men at that time never drank as much as they do, now, you know. They never had the money. And no women were allowed, oh no. If a man saw a woman at the bar, he wouldn’t think very much of her.”
Like other working men’s club around the Island, Somerset is trying to become less dependent on alcohol sales and the attendant anti- social behaviour and do more to attract families, but today it has to compete for attention with other sports like golf and tennis, not to mention the lure of TV and PlayStations. Older members speak wistfully of a deeper community spirit and involvement, glittering presidents’ balls with members dressed up in black tie and gown like a Hollywood premiere, and Christmas children’s parties. The club hopes that event such as this summer’s centenary celebrations, which included a Harbour Nights-style street festival, will once again make the club the centre of the community.
Club members and Ladies Auxiliary on the club steps overlooking the field in the 1970s.
Although women were not permitted to join the club as bonafide members until 1983, they have long been a vital part of club life. “Before then we had the ladies auxiliary, as we did for the lodges and bands,” explains Lynn Wade, the club’s assistant secretary and the only woman on the executive, whose father Arthur was a former club president. “Some ladies miss the separation. I think we did more together then. The men sometimes don’t do the same things as well as the women!”
The Ladies Auxiliary was formed in 1970 with Frances (Taylor) Goodchild as its first president. Members were wives of officers, family member s members of the club’s netball and softball teams and supporters. They organised their own events as well as handling many of the inevitable catering duties.
Aside from sport, clubs like Somerset have historically played a significant social role. Dr E.F. Gordon, leader of Bermuda’s trade union movement and a lifelong campaigner for universal suffrage, was a big cricket fan and an active member of Somerset Cricket Club.
Former club president Reggie Pearman, now president of the Bermuda Cricket Board of Control, notes: “Somerset like Leopards Club, PHC and others, held a lot of meetings before universal suffrage. A lot of discussions were held there and decisions made. The clubs were often the only vehicle where blacks could congregate and where people could make those speeches. “
Norris Cann recalls Dr. Gordon as “always a man on the move with a lot of ideas for cricket. But he never wanted to take a position in the club. He liked to be a ‘floor member’ so he could challenge everybody. He would always help if they needed it though.”
Present club president Colin Smith is hoping to restore dignitiy and success to the club he has known and loved since he was a boy living across the street where the Muslim bakery now stands.
“I grew up playing soccer in Somerset but not long afterwards I got into administration. Arthur Wade, who was secretary at the time, said to me, ‘You young boy don’t know what you’re doing. You need to learn some respect.’ And in those days, they made you show respect-not like today. He explained some thing to me about how the club was run and why it needed new blood and that’s how I got involved.”
He became president in 1998 and now heads a young executive that includes secretary Dwayne Simmons, cricket chairman Anthony Bailey, and vice-president and Soccer chairman Alfred Maybury. Former national coach Mark Trott now heads the club’s soccer programme, which caters for players from aged six and up, while former Cup Match star Winston Reid coaches the cricket team and is hoping to revive the club’s youth system.
“The vision my committee and I have is to see Somerset Cricket Club reclaim its reputation as the premier sporting and social organisation in Bermuda,” says Smith. Membership, once as high as 700, has slumped in recent years, bur is beginning to rise again. The club has about 350 members; about 20 per cent of them women, but 90 members are over the age of 70, which many of them having paid dues continuously for more than 40 years.
Smith is the first to agree that much of the club and its facilities are stuck in a 1950 time warp and desperately need upgrading. “I would like to see a second tier of seating around the ground with a VIP booth and press boxes above at the present permanent sightscreen end. We would like to close in the ‘patio’ in the car park and add a sauna, gym, weight room as well as upgrade the lighting and dressing rooms.”
One thing he doesn’t plan on changing, though, is Cup Match itself. Indeed, the approaching centenary seems to have made people more aware of the event’s cultural and historic importance.
“The two clubs have been trying to drive that point home and make people understand that the game belongs to the community of Bermuda, not just the clubs” says Smith. The game’s inclusion in last year’s Bermuda presentation at the Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival in Washington and its celebration on a recent issue of Bermuda stamps underscore this.
“Cup Match is something that can close the gaps between all walks of life-black, white, Bermudian, foreigner.” He adds. “Money is important, yes, but it’s also about brining unity to a country; remembering Emancipation; and bringing families together.”
Acknowledgements: Ira Philip, Tommy Aitchison, Sandys-Bermuda Architectural Heritage, by the Bermuda National Trust, and Myron Bean. Special thanks to Lynn Wade, Emily Burgess and the committee of Somerset Cricket Club.