Like so many young boys, who dreamed of playing Cup Match as a child, St George’s MP Kim Swan told a packed audience that “no other event in Bermuda can rival Cup Match!”

Speaking at the recent gala President’s Ball, Mr Swan said he was “truly honoured and humbled” to deliver the keynote address for St George’s Cricket Club, which is located “in the heart” of his constituency of St George’s West.

A host of Government MPs attended the event held at the Hamilton Princess Hotel, including Minister of Government Reform Lovitta Foggo, Education Minister Diallo Rabain and MP Renee Ming, “to celebrate St George’s Cricket Club’s 125 years as “an establishment in our community and country”.

“Together St George’s and Somerset Cricket Club are iconic institutions in Bermuda and because of the Annual Cup Match Classic we now have a two-day holiday and a sporting event that celebrates our emancipation – an event that is unmatched in terms of cultural or economic relevance in Bermuda,” said Mr Swan. “No other event in Bermuda can rival Cup Match!”

Reflecting on the “wisdom of our ancestors”, he said it was “heartwarming to reflect” on the “great visionaries”, who paved the way for Bermudians to “celebrate their legacy”.

“It is incumbent on our current generation to cause future generations to look back on us with equal pride,” he said. “As a professional athlete by trade I have witnessed how our Black history can be ignored, rewritten, even minimized with the contributions of our athletes lost over time. It is incumbent upon us in this modern technological period to chronicle our sporting events in words and pictures for future generations to enjoy.

“The dedication of our 1892 Hall at the inaugural President’s Ball in 2015 and the galvanizing of a dedicated management team at St George’s Cricket Club with a mandate to engage the community, make me most proud of the direction of St George’s Cricket Club,” he said.

He also paid homage to his mentor, the late Clive ‘Jack’ Burgess MBE, a former long-serving President of St George’s Cricket Club.

“I recognize that the late Clive ‘Jack’ Burgess – who became my mentor when I moved to St George’s in the 1980s paved the way to make this opportunity tonight possible. I cherish the fond memories of Clive ‘Jack’ Burgess, especially gleaning the knowledge, history and the important stories about his involvement in cricket in Bermuda, internationally and of course stories about St George’s Cricket Club, Somerset Cricket Club, the BCBC, MCC, Andy Smith, Custerfield Crockwell, Alfred Simmons, Ed Bailey and Alma ‘Champ’ Hunt.”

He also noted that the club at its current location for 56 years since 1961, has seen its share of “challenging times over the years”.

“I am duty bound to share one important story Jack Burgess shared with me,” said Mr Swan. “Ever wonder why Pembroke Hamilton Club (PHC) have such a great spot at Cup Match? 

“There was a time when certain members of St George’s Cricket Club put up the deeds of their homes for our club and with the financial backing of PHC ensured that the club we have today remained in the hands of its members. That is an example of real commitment and those members who put their deeds up need to be commemorated and remembered on the walls just like all of our Cup Match and Football teams.

“Future generations must know these persons and be made aware of the PHC connection so that their families for generations know the sacrifice their forefathers made for the preservation of our beloved St George’s Cricket Club,” he said.

Two honourees were also recognized for their “contributions and commitment”. 

“Calvin ‘Caledonia’ Smith and Gregory ‘Brutus’ Foggo are most deserving awardees. While sportsmen, from outstanding St George’s Cricket sporting families of great notoriety, it was their work on, around and on behalf of St George’s Cricket Club that has set them apart. They are the example that must be emulated going forward if we are to grow from strength to strength and build on the legacy left by our forefathers,” said Mr Swan.

“Let me reiterate how honoured I am to bring this address… a country boy from Somerset Bridge – the keynote speaker at this prestigious event celebrating 125 years. I am proud to share that my Uncle Carl ‘Squab’ Anderson, who was reserve for St George’s Cricket Club in 1960 and 1961 that caused the biggest Cup Match stir in our family until now.

“I have to declare that my father Hubert Swan was a good cricketer for Bridge, Pond Hill Stars and Police, but I grew up idolizing my Uncle Sheridan Raynor. In fact, when it came to Cup Match, I had numerous family connections – Uncle Sonny Roberts, Uncle Reggie Tucker were also Cup Match Captains and Vice Captains,” he said.

“I will always cherish being coached by Mackie Simmons and Eugene ‘Buck’ Woods when our Bridge team won Junior Western County in the early 1970s.

“Fast forward to today Mr President, you and your Executive are to be commended for this week-long celebration in honour of our historic St George’s Cricket Club. It is important to appreciate that you and your committee still feel it necessary and important to start off this week of festivities in church. Our forefathers were prayerful people and we would do well to realign ourselves with some old school traditions.”

While noting that St George’s Cricket Club is “far more than a sporting organization with several acres and a multi-storey clubhouse”, he said: “We are co-owners/custodians of Cup Match.

“Economically, the event founded by our forefathers who were the immediate descendants of slaves, to celebrate the legacy and journey of their grandparents, from those humble origins Cup Match has become the single most significant economic event on the Bermuda calendar, even surpassing Christmas. And he challenged the club’s executive to be “bold like our ancestors and dare to have a vision for something greater for our club”.

He also noted that more than a decade has passed since the club moved to “an enclosed stadium of two and three storey temporary condo blocks using scaffolding”.

“This has proven to accelerate the community spirit by increasing the amount of plots available and I am pleased that open seating has been maintained. I am advised that the annual budget for scaffolding is in the region of $250,000 annually. This alone is a testament to the amount of money the clubs spend out by the host club on Cup Match.”

The east end MP also said he was “awestruck by the detail that was put into the legislation to guarantee that the event was an economic success”. 

“I also note the economic impact forecasts that project future benefits from a past event. Without getting benefits from a past event. Without getting into the pros and cons of the America’s Cup I will say that it’s model is worth looking at for Cup Match. Clearly, the economic value is self evident,” he said.

“While year in and year out Cup Match has become an economic feeding frenzy but with the collective capital we expand at Cup Match the ‘Way Forward’ must be a shift in the economic model for both clubs collectively.

“I envisage us building permanent pavilion stands which house indoor training facilities, with rooms suitable for rent/usage for after school, senior day care, beauty shops, a community centre, etc.

“Our ancestors must have looked at their current circumstances, considered the journey of their forefathers and in doing so laid a strong foundation for us. And it is proof he said, that the current executive must do likewise.

“In 25 years we at St George’s Cricket Club will be celebrating 150 years. If the God Lord spares my life I will be 85 arguing with Brutus, who will be 95-years-old, Oronde will be 54-years-old and Mecca 28.

“What do we want St George’s Cricket Club and our community to be like then? We control that destiny in much the same way our forefathers took the bull by the horns and paved a better way for us,. 

“As a member of the PLP Government I am proud that our platform has committed us to support workman’s clubs and I know that you can count on our party to help move this iconic club and Cup Match to greater heights for the economic benefit of the two clubs.

“Future growth in Cup Match lies in us looking at that America’s Cup model together with our financial advisors,,” he added. The points noted:

  • The Economic Importance of Cup Match to our economy is a given
  • St George’s and Somerset are the custodians of Cup Match
  • Cup Match is the intellectual property of the St George’s and Somerset Cricket Clubs
  • Tourism can be further enhanced by partnering with Cup Match Clubs – the clubs can participate in that effort and the clubs should benefit financially
  • Look at the significant expenditure for scaffolding to explore the possibility of building modern pavilion facilities for indoor training at St George’s and Somerset – where overseas schools can rent to train

Mr Swan concluded: “As a sportsman I am aware that the work of most workman’s clubs fall on a few shoulders. Those of you who are shouldering our burden at St George’s Cricket Club allow me to thank you especially.

“God Bless St George’s Cricket Club.”

  • Photos Courtesy of Ms Cindy Swan & MP Renee Ming