A special achievement by Bermuda’s best

  • Photograph by Akil Simmons

A special bond: members of the Bermuda football team were recognised for their medal-winning success at a reception at City Hall. From left, back – Gary Darrell, Clyde “Tango” Burgess and Clyde Best. Front, Dennis Wainwright, Lionel “Baldy” Smith, Leroy “Nibs” Lewis and Earlston “Duckfoot” Jennings. Below, sailor Eugene “Penny” Simmons who won bronze in the double-handed Snipe Class
  • Sailor Eugene “Penny” Simmons who won bronze in the double-handed Snipe Class

National pride was on display during a heart-warming reception at City Hall yesterday commemorating the 50th anniversary of the accomplishments of the Bermuda football team and sailors Eugene “Penny” Simmons and Richard Belvin at the 1967 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg, Canada.

The Bermuda football team won the silver medal and sailors Simmons and Belvin claimed the bronze, the island’s first medals at an international competition.

After finishing second in their group behind home nation Canada with one win and two draws, Bermuda beat Trinidad and Tobago 3-1 in the semi-final to set up a meeting with Mexico in the final.

Bermuda lost 4-0 to Mexico who won the competition for the first time.

Bermuda’s team, coached by Englishman Graham Adams, consisted of goalkeepers Dennis Wainwright and Clyde Burgess, Kenny Cann, Willis Cann, Gordon Cholmondeley, Gladwin Daniels, the team captain, Gary Darrell, Carlton Dill, Marcus Douglas, Earlston Jennings, Ed Ming, Rudy Minors, Leroy Lewis, Irving Romaine, Noel Simons, Lionel Smith, Rudy Smith and Winston Trott.

“These gentlemen here represent our highest achievement in football that all of us are chasing them still,” Mark Wade, the Bermuda Football Association president, said.

Carlton “Pepe” Dill, the former Bermuda forward, said winning the silver medal was “one of the highlights of his life”

“We weren’t high on the list coming from little Bermuda but we did some great things,” he said.

“I don’t think we had any real great expectations other than to do well. We wanted to play well and represent Bermuda in a really high manner.

“As the tournament went on we became more and more united and harmonious as a team and started to do things, and from that we took some big countries down and obviously came out with the medal.

“It’s always great to receive recognition for things you have done, things that you gave no thought to with regards to getting any honours.

“I was among a group of guys that were some of the best to have played for Bermuda, I’m very thankful that I’m one of those people.”

Also present at the reception, hosted by Hamilton Mayor Charles Gosling in collaboration with Imagine Bermuda, was sailor Simmons who finished third in the double-handed Snipe class along with crew Belvin.

“The one thing that sticks out in my mind is the last race when I had third place and the boat leeward to us tacked very quickly on starboard tack and as I swung the boat off we hit him,” said Simmons, who went on to win eight world titles in the International One Design Class.

“I touched his rudder and had to withdraw and it was either the gold or silver medal gone.

“In those days you had no recourse. Today you can do a 360 or 720 [penalty turn] and exonerate yourself.

“But we touched him, we were wrong and there was nothing else to do but withdraw.”

Other dignitaries that attended the special gathering were sports minister Zane DeSilva, Opposition leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin and Bermuda Olympic Association president Judy Simons.

“Bermuda has won 28 medals ranging from gold to silver to bronze and if anything the 1967 Pan Am Games team was the impetus about national pride, dedication (and) commitment to sports,” Simons said.