Cup Match

9 Aug

The last weekend of July was Cup Match – a two day public holiday of Somerset (west end) vs. St George’s (east end) cricket – and it was quite the event! In the days leading up to the game, there were people declaring their allegiance with their team’s coloured ribbons pinned to their chests, cars and scooters brandishing flags, and pop-up snow cone stands with blue and red (Somerset) or blue and navy (St. George’s) flavourings! Hamilton had a real buzz of excitement in the air – akin to the days leading up to Christmas – as families made their preparations for a long weekend of boating, swimming and camping – a tradition among Bermudians during Cup Match weekend, despite home being a few miles away from their tents!

We headed to the match on the second day to a packed field of scaffolding stands, food stalls, Bacardi bars and – for the Cup Match only – a gambling tent, packed with people trying to go home with more cash than they arrived with, on the one weekend that gambling is legal in Bermuda. There was an incredible atmosphere; the sights of waving flags, face-painted supporters, bright clothing; smells of freshly grilled fish and icy rum cocktails, sounds of cheering and clapping and the shaky bass of reggae music, all under a blue sky and a fierce sun. Thankfully our good friend Bryan managed to blag us into a private stand, with shade, a beautiful breeze, stunning views across the water, and a free bar! Needless to say, we stayed there for the rest of the day!

After a great afternoon and a close match (St. George’s eventually won) we headed off for dinner, past the makeshift camp sites on the sides of the roads, with happy campers cheering and waving their flags by their tents. Our taxi driver – a Somerset supporter – waved his Somerset hat back.

“Aren’t they St. George’s supporters?” I asked, confused as to why he was waving his Somerset hat out the window to the winning opponents.

“Yes, but it’s all the same,” he laughed.

And it was. Although people here are resolutely loyal to their side of the island, everyone is jubilant at the end of Cup Match – regardless of the result. I thought about how different this event may have been in England – fights fuelled by team rivalry and too much alcohol, people falling about, vomit, road rage on the way home. Although there was a strong police presence at the game, I only saw one verbal argument, no drunken embarrassments and no arguments at home time. Instead people waved and whooped, cars honked their horns, and electric happiness zipped through the air like dancing fireflies.

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