It is always a pleasure when we receive some information, especially with pictures, on athletes of times past. Some have already passed on, but some are still with us, and it is sometimes good for today’s youths to remember that the elderly gentleman they see on the street was once a ‘baller too.
Retired B.E.C. employee Walter Bradley provided us today with the above picture of the BEC football team he played with that was Runner-up in the 1959 Belize City Football Knockout Competition played at the then Edwards Park (now Rogers Stadium). In those days, the regular football competition, which started in late September-early October and ended in February or March of the following year, was always followed by a Knockout Competition, which was almost as prestigious as the regular season. According to Walter’s recollection, Dunlop was the 1958-59 champion, but BEC played and lost to the British Army squad in the 1959 Knockout finals.
BEC did go on to win the regular season championship a couple years later in the 1960-61 season, Walter’s last active competition, when Wilfred “Palmer” Davis was their goalkeeper.
Missing from the above picture, taken immediately after the 1959 Knockout championship game, was then team member Jim Murphy, who was away from the country at the time.
We asked Walter about the legendary Dunlop vs Diamond-A trilogy, when junior champions Dunlop moved up to challenge the 1957-58 senior champions Diamond-A in the Knockout finals of 1958. Walter said, as he remembers it, they played two draw games, and in the third and final game, Diamond-A defeated Dunlop by a 2-1 score. Dunlop went on to dethrone Diamond-A in the 1958-59 regular season, but was not successful in the ensuing Knockout, which was won by the Army team.
In those days, says Walter, teams mostly played a 5-3-2 formation, where there were 5 forwards, 3 half-backs (what we would now call midfielders), and 2 fullbacks. Walter played right half-back.
To Walter’s right in the picture is Victor Lewis, now representing the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) on the Public Utilities Commission (PUC); and to his left is Philip Flowers, then called Mr. B.H. for having recently won the Mr. B.H. (British Honduras) Bodybuilding Championship (1958?). Philip sadly perished in Hurricane Hattie of 1961.
Our discussion shifted to the dwindling number of playing fields in the old capital; to which Walter informed us that it was a new BEC manager sent from England, named Michael Hoare, who spearheaded the construction of the BEC field, for use in football and cricket. Mostly BEC employees, including Delhart Courtney, then played their first competition as the BEC Football Team in 1957, the year when the field was first built.
Walter reminded us of a Hall of Fame that was launched some years ago to record the outstanding athletes from around1920 until 1960; but nothing has since been done about inducting other athletes into the Belize Sports Hall of Fame for the ensuing years, and he knows quite a few great players from the 1960’s that should be in the football Hall of Fame.
At the sports desk, we concur. For starters, one Louis “Bembe the Mugger” Garbutt, who is presently ailing in Brooklyn, New York, is hereby proposed by Amandala sports desk to start the list of inductees for the 1960’s in the Belize Football Hall of Fame.