Bermuda

Bermuda

  • Capital: Hamilton
  • Population: 63,920 (2019 estimate)
  • Official Languages: English
  • Men’s National Team Nicknames: Gombey Warriors
  • Female’s National Team Nicknames: n/a
  • Association: Bermuda Football Association (BFA)
  • Top Male Domestic League: Bermudian Premier League
  • Top Female Domestic League: Bermudian Women’s League
  • FIFA Code: BER

Records

  • Best World Cup Result (Men): Not Qualified
  • Best World Cup Result (Women): Not Qualified
  • Best Olympics Result (Men): Not Qualified
  • Best Olympics Result (Women): Not Qualified
  • Best Gold Cup Result (Men): Group Stage (2019)
  • Best Gold Cup Result (Women): Not Qualified
  • Best Caribbean Cup Result (Men): Not Qualified
  • Best Caribbean Cup Result (Women): Group Stage (2000, 2014)
  • Best Island Games Result (Men): Gold Medalists (2013)
  • Best Island Games Result (Women): Gold Medalists (2013)
  • Highest FIFA Ranking (Men): 58th (December 1992)
  • Highest FIFA Ranking (Women): 92nd (December 2009)
  • Lowest FIFA Ranking (Men): 189th (September 2011)
  • Lowest FIFA Ranking (Women): 147th (December 2021)
  • Most Capped Players: Damon Ming & Reggie Lambe – 43 caps [as of January 2022]
  • Top Scorer: Shaun Goater – 20 goals

Introduction & Brief History

The archipelago nation of Bermuda (historically known as The Bermudas or the Somers Isles) is a British Overseas Territory situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately 1035 km (643 miles) off the eastern coast of the United States mainland. An archipelago consisting of 181 islands, they were first discovered in 1505 by the Spanish explorer Juan de Bermúdez (from whom the islands are named after) and became permanently inhabited from 1612 when an English settlement was established as St. George’s. Originally governed under the royal chartered Somer Isles Company, it became a formal crown colony in 1684, making Bermuda one of the oldest overseas territories still under British control. Due to its ideal maritime location within the North Atlantic, it became an important base for merchants, privateers, and, naturally, the Royal Navy, as well as traditionally having a maritime-based economy. However, in recent times, the economy has switched to tourism with many of its visitors coming from the American mainland, as well as Bermuda becoming a prominent offshore financial centre and tax haven for many big businesses.

Football was first played in Bermuda in October 1879 when the XIX PWO Regiment beat the “Prospect Civilians” 4-1 at the Garrison Cricket Ground. However, it wouldn’t be until the 1900s and 1910s when football became more organised on the islands, with the military teams (and naval teams in particular) being at the forefront of promoting the sport in the then-Crown Colony. The first Bermudian football competition, the Governor’s Cup, was established in 1913, which was open to all naval and military teams based in Bermuda, with its first final played the following year. Eventually, a civilian edition of the cup, the BAA Cup, was established in 1922, which could be considered the forebearer of today’s national cup competition, the Bermuda FA Cup. The Bermuda Football Association (BFA) was also founded in the 1920s, being established in 1928 under the initial auspices of the English FA before eventually becoming a separate entity.

It wouldn’t be until the 1960s when Bermudian football became part of international football when they became a full member of FIFA in 1962, and then a member of CONCACAF in 1967. The country’s first full international occurred in August 1964 when they faced off against another North Atlantic island nation in the form of Iceland, losing 4-3 in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavík. The 1960s would see some success for the Bermudians as they reached the final of the 1967 Pan-American Games football tournament, beating the United States 7-3, and Trinidad & Tobago 3-1 en route to the final before losing to Mexico 4-0 in the gold medal match. The Gombey Warriors (named after the iconic dance and folk tradition that is unique to the islands) also entered their first World Cup qualification campaign during this decade, attempting to qualify for the 1970 World Cup held in Mexico. Alas, they exited at the First Round stage by finishing bottom of a three-team group alongside the United States and Canada. Bermuda also failed to qualify for both the 1969 and 1971 editions of the CONCACAF Championship (now the Gold Cup) by losing to Mexico over two legs in both attempts (although they beat El Tri 2-1 in the home leg for the 1969 qualification process).

Bermuda would go through somewhat of an international exile throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and the majority of the 1990s as they failed to enter qualifying for either the World Cup or Gold Cup. It wouldn’t be until attempting to qualify for the 1994 World Cup that Bermuda finally returned to the international fold, reaching the second round of the qualification process and finishing bottom of their group, although they did manage to defeat El Salvador and gain points against Jamaica and Canada all in their home fixtures. Naturally, Bermuda has failed to qualify for a World Cup and hasn’t progressed beyond the Second Round of CONCACAF qualification in their many attempts despite a number of near-misses of progression to the Third Round throughout the years. They even failed to qualify for the Caribbean Cup during its tenure between 1978 and 2017.

Bermuda’s fortunes would improve when attempting to qualify for the 2019 Gold Cup, which also doubled up as the qualifying phase of the 2019-20 CONCACAF Nations League to determine which tiers all the teams would be placed within. Despite being ranked in ‘Pot B’ and regarded as a second-tier team, they performed incredibly in their four-game qualification process. Despite losing to Aruba 3-1 in their opening game, victories over Sint Maarten (12-0), El Salvador (1-0), and the Dominican Republic (3-1) ensured that the Gombey Warriors finished as the fifth-best placed side within qualifying. Not only did it mean they would be placed in the highest tier of League A for the upcoming Nations League campaign, but it also automatically qualified them for the 2019 Gold Cup – their first major tournament appearance.

They were drawn in a tough group alongside Haiti, Costa Rica (one of the co-hosts of the tournament), and Nicaragua, and were the lowest-ranked side in the group by a considerable margin as they were ranked 174th in the world at the start of the tournament. Despite gutsy displays against both Haiti and Costa Rica, they were unable to pick up any points falling in both fixtures by the scoreline of 2-1. However, in their final group game against 129th ranked Nicaragua, Bermuda managed to create history for themselves when they earned their first-ever victory in a major tournament when they beat the Central Americans 2-1 to finish third in their group and exit the competition on a positive note.

Since their debut at the Gold Cup, results for Bermuda have been unsurprisingly inconsistent. They suffered relegation to League B in the CONCACAF Nations League by finishing bottom in a group containing Mexico and Panama, and were unable to qualify for their second Gold Cup. Despite demolishing a surprisingly lackluster Barbados 8-1 in the first round of the process, a 4-1 defeat to Haiti in the final round ended their hopes of a second consecutive appearance in CONCACAF’s flagship event. Finally, they have not qualified for the 2022 World Cup after finishing in the third position in their five-team First Round group stage, with the vastly-improving Canadian squad progressing from their group. The highlight of the campaign was a 5-0 defeat of Aruba.

Bermuda National Team

Q. Who is Bermuda’s best player of all-time?

Shaun Goater

Bermuda’s greatest player of all time is a player who is an iconic player and cult hero for one of European football’s biggest clubs. A successful striker who scored a vast amount of goals during a lean and turbulent period of time for Manchester City, scoring in the top three tiers of English football with the Citizens, and earning himself legendary status and a song which is still sung by Manchester City fans today, “Feed The Goat and he will score!” Of course, I am talking about “The Goat” Shaun Goater.

Hamilton-born Goater actually started out his career in English football with the red half of Manchester, playing for the youth teams of Manchester United, but after a year with the Red Devils, he moved to Rotherham United for first-team football in 1989. Despite having his name synonymous with Manchester City, Goater actually made more appearances for the Millers during his seven-year stay in South Yorkshire, making 262 appearances and scoring 86 goals, and winning the 1996 Football League Trophy with them. Sadly, a disagreement with then-manager Archie Gemmill saw Goater move to Bristol City in the summer of 1996 for a transfer fee of £175k. His time with the Robins was another successful period, where he established himself as a consistent and reliable goalscorer and scored 45 goals in 81 appearances in his near two-year stay with Ashton Gate side, and was subsequently named in the PFA Team of the Year for Division Two for the 1997-98 season. His performances impressed enough to convince Manchester City to part with £400k in March 1998 for his services and start the most memorable period of his career.

Goater joined a Manchester City side who was in the complete opposite environment than they are today, experiencing a topsy-turvy and emotional rollercoaster of a period as they fluctuated between the top three tiers of English football. He joined Man City towards the back end of the 1997-98 season as they struggled to avoid relegation to the third-tier, which they were unable to resist, but would be a crucial part of the club’s resurrection back up through the leagues. Goater would finish the 1998-99 season as Man City’s top goalscorer with 21 goals, which included a match-winning goal against Wigan Athletic in the playoff semi-finals, and would ultimately see the club gain promotion back to Division 1 via a penalty shootout against Gillingham in a legendary playoff final. Goater would have an even better season back in England’s second-tier, this time scoring 29 goals and being named as the club’s Player of the Year as Manchester City earned their second consecutive promotion to return back to the Premier League.

Despite scoring 11 goals in the 2000-01 season, and finishing as Manchester City’s top goalscorer for the third season in a row, Shaun Goater was unable to stop City from getting relegated back to the second-tier. However, in the 2001-02 season, he experienced his best-ever season as a professional scoring over 30 goals throughout the season (the first Man City player since Francis Lee in 1972 to achieve the feat), finishing as Division 1’s top goalscorer with 28 league goals, and being named in the PFA Team of the Year for Division 1, as Manchester City stormed back to the Premier League as division champions. Unfortunately, with Man City’s return to the top-flight, it saw the club bring in new strikers who provided intense competition for places with Goater and saw his Premier League appearances limited, although he famously scored his 99th and 100th goal for Manchester City in the last Manchester Derby to be held at Maine Road. Eventually, at the end of the 2002-03 season, he announced his intention to leave Man City to find more regular football, and in honour of his cult status within the club, he captained the side in his final game for the club and Manchester City’s final game at Maine Road before their move to the City of Manchester Stadium (commonly known as the Etihad Stadium now). During his time with the Citizens, he scored 103 goals in 212 appearances.

Goater then moved to Reading in August 2003 amongst great fanfare by the chairman who described the transfer as “the biggest in Reading FC’s history“. Sadly, his time at the Royals would be an unhappy one as a management change early into Goater’s stay at Reading meant he was no longer part of the plans of the new manager Steve Coppell. He scored 12 goals in 43 appearances with the Thames Valley side before making a move to Southend United in 2005. In his final season in English football, he acted as a mentor to the young players in the side, especially Freddie Eastwood, and helped the Shrimpers to gain promotion to the second-tier as League One champions by scoring 11 goals in 34 appearances. He would subsequently make appearances for Bermuda Hogges, Bermuda’s brief representative team that played in the American football system, and being a player-manager for North Village, before retiring from playing in 2010.

Since retiring from the playing side, he continued managing North Village for another three years where he earned a number of trophies with the Rams including winning the Bermudian Premier Division in 2010-11. He would later be involved in coaching New Mills and briefly managing Ilkeston in the English lower leagues. In October 2021, he returned back to the club that most loved him the most by becoming part of Manchester City Academy’s coaching staff where he works across all the age groups within the academy.

In terms of his international career, Shaun Goater is Bermuda’s all-time top goalscorer with 20 goals scored in 22 appearances between 1988 and 2004 (it is argued that he scored 32 goals in 36 appearances although this is not officially recognised by FIFA). He made his international debut as a 17-year-old in a goalless draw against Canada in February 1988, and scored his first international goal in the following year in a 2-1 win over Barbados in the Daily Nation Trophy. Throughout the 1990s, he would be Bermuda’s only professional play in the national team, and during the 1992-93 season, he missed eight weeks of the season for Rotherham United in order to represent Bermuda during their qualification campaign for the 1994 World Cup.

Despite his lengthy international career, Goater earned the majority of his recognised caps and scored the majority of his goals between 1989 and 1992, with eleven of his caps coming in 1992 alone where he scored eight goals. He has scored two international hat-tricks during his career, the first coming against Barbados in May 1990 during qualification for the 1990 Caribbean Cup in a 3-0 win for the Gombey Warriors, and the second coming in March 2000 against the British Virgin Islands during qualification for the 2002 World Cup. His latter hat-trick would be his first goal and cap for eight years after having an eight-year gap between his 19th and 20th appearances for his country. His final goals for Bermuda came in March 2004 in a 3-0 friendly victory over Nicaragua whilst his final official appearance for his country was in June the same year, in a 2-1 defeat to El Salvador for the 2006 World Cup qualification phase.

In the summer of 2000, due to his performances with Manchester City, Shaun Goater was awarded the freedom of Bermuda, with the 21st of June being declared as “Shaun Goater Day” on the islands. He is one of the first players from the islands to become a professional and enjoy a successful football career, and has been an inspiration for the next generation of players such as Nakhi Wells, Reggie Lambe, et al, showing them that players from Bermuda can enjoy successful football careers and helped improve the standard in the country. There is no question that Shaun Goater is the best Bermudian player of all time!

Q. Who is currently the best player in the national side?

Nahki Wells

The star player in the current Bermudian national side is their pacy forward Nahki Wells. The 31-year-old started his career with the local side Dandy Town Hornets and played a few games for the USL side Bermuda Hogges before moving over to England to continue his career. He made his professional debut in English football with Carlisle United in 2011 but made just three appearances before moving across the Pennines to Bradford City, where he would forge his career as a talented youngster.

Wells’ three-year stint with the Bantams would be extremely successful for Wells as he would form a successful goalscoring partnership with James Hanson during a memorable period for the previously beleaguered club. He would be part of the side that reached the final of the 2013 English League Cup, with Wells scoring in the first leg of the semi-final against Aston Villa to ensure the fourth-tier side surprisingly made the final of England’s secondary cup competition. Despite losing the final 5-0 to Swansea City and being substituted after an hour, Wells made history by being the first Bermudian player to play in a major English cup final. That 2012-13 season would bring further success for Wells as his goal tally of 26 in all competitions, including 18 in League Two, ensured Bradford City gained promotion to League One in the playoff final, with Wells contributing goals in both legs of the playoff semi-final and the playoff final.

After an exceptional start in League One with Bradford which saw Wells score 14 goals in 19 league appearances in the first half of the 2013-14 season, Bradford City finally decided to sell their star commodity for a needed financial boost in January 2014. After scoring 53 goals in 112 appearances with Bradford, he made a transfer within Yorkshire to Championship side Huddersfield Town. During his three-and-a-half-season stint with the Terriers, Wells managed to score 49 goals in 153 appearances, with the 2015-16 season being particularly profitable for Wells where he scored 17 league goals to finish as the club’s top goalscorer for the season. Despite having achieved promotion with Huddersfield at the end of the 2016-17 Championship season via the playoffs, Wells would make the move to the Premier League regardless as Burnely paid £5m for his services on the final day of the summer transfer window in 2017.

Alas, his stint at the Lancashire club would be a disaster for Wells as he only made ten appearances for the Clarets during the 2017-18 season, before going out on loan back to the Championship for the following two seasons with Queens Park Rangers. His one-and-a-half-season loan spell would be fruitful for Wells as he scored 24 goals in 72 appearances, with his second half-season being more profitable by scoring 13 league goals in 26 appearances, making him the club’s second top goalscorer that season despite playing just half the season at the London club. After having made no appearances for Burnley over one and a half seasons, it was no surprise he left the club on a permanent deal although Wells ended up moving to the southwest of England and joining Bristol City (who Shaun Goater had also played for during his illustrious career) in January 2020. Wells is currently in his second full season with the Robins and has made nearly 90 appearances for Bristol City although scoring just 17 goals during his stay so far, with 11 of them coming last season.

Nahki Wells made his Bermudian senior international debut in December 2007 when he played in a friendly match against Saint Kitts & Nevis, although he would have to wait nearly four years before scoring his first international goal in his fifth appearance for the Gombey Warriors, scoring Bermuda’s sole goal in a 2-1 defeat to Trinidad & Tobago in October 2011 during the 2014 World Cup qualifiers. Wells would score the crucial goal against El Salvador in the 2019-20 CONCACAF Nations League / 2019 Gold Cup qualifiers to give Bermuda a famous 1-0 victory over Los Cuzcatlecos, which ultimately resulted in Bermuda qualifying for the 2019 Gold Cup. Naturally, he was selected as part of Bermuda’s 23-man squad and played in all three group games, scoring two goals in the process. He scored the penalty for Bermuda in their 2-1 loss to Costa Rica, and clinched the decisive second goal in their historic 2-0 win over Nicaragua in their final group game.

He continues to be Bermuda’s main goalscoring outlet with Wells scoring three goals during their unsuccessful 2019-20 CONCACAF Nations League campaign. He scored a brace against Panama to give Bermuda their only victory of the schedule, whilst getting the consolation goal against Mexico in a 5-1 loss. Most recently, Wells scored a hat-trick in Bermuda’s 8-1 destruction of Barbados during qualification for the 2021 Gold Cup, and scored Bermuda’s only goal in their 4-1 final qualifying round loss to Haiti.

Throughout his international career, he has made 21 appearances for the national team and scored 16 goals, putting him the third-highest goalscorer in Bermuda’s history, and unquestionably Bermuda’s star player currently.

Q. Who could be considered as the most exciting up & coming talent from the island?

There are some good young talented players who are progressing into the Bermudian national team or are just breaking into the senior team, however, here are just a few select players that may be worth keeping an eye on for the future:

Kane Crichlow
  • Kane Crichlow – 21-year-old attacking midfielder who is currently playing for Watford. The Warwick Parish-born player moved from Bermuda to join the youth academy of Spanish side Cornellá in 2012 where he stayed for six years before joining the under 18 side of AFC Wimbledon in 2018. In the following year he signed a professional deal with Watford and made his professional debut for the Hornets in September 2020 as a substitute in an EFL Cup tie against Newport County. He represented Bermuda at U15, U17, and U20 before making his senior international debut against Canada in March 2021 during the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign. Crichlow scored on his debut by grabbing Bermuda’s sole consolation goal in a 5-1 defeat, before adding a further brace of goals five days later in a 5-0 defeat over Aruba. He further added to his goals tally by getting the sixth goal in the 8-1 demolishion of Barbados in July 2021, ensuring his current international record is four goals in three appearances for the Gombey Warriors.
  • Remy Coddington – The 17-year-old midfielder who is currently playing for the youth teams of West Ham United began his career with North Village, before signing for AFC Bournemouth in March 2019. In July 2020, he moved to the London club when he signed scholarship forms with the Hammers. Coddington represented Bermuda at the 2019 CONCACAF U15 Championship, where he starred for the team by scoring three goals in four appearances during the tournament. He made his international debut in March 2021 as a 16-year-old in a friendly match against Bahamas, where he also scored on his debut by netting the third goal in a 3-0 win for Bermuda. At the time of writing, he currently has two senior international caps with Bermuda.

Q. What is the current state/performance of the national team?

Below are Bermuda’s international results from 2021:

  • 25th March [2022 WCQ]: Canada (n) 1-5
  • 30th March [2022 WCQ]: Aruba (n) 5-0
  • 4th June [2022 WCQ]: Suriname (a) 0-6
  • 8th June [2022 WCQ]: Cayman Islands (n) 1-1
  • 28th June [Friendly]: Guyana (n) 0-1
  • 2nd July [2021 GCQ]: Barbados (n) 8-1
  • 6th July [2021 GCQ]: Haiti (n) 1-4

Bermuda’s recent form could be considered unpredictable considering they only managed to achieve two victories from their seven games played throughout 2021. Granted, it is worth noting that they were the third seeds in their five-team 2022 World Cup qualifying group, and with only the group winner progressing, it would have taken a monumental achievement to have progressed, especially considering Canada is one of the quickly improving teams in international football. This was clearly evident by the way the Canucks dismantled Bermuda in the first group game, which effectively ended Bermuda’s quest for progression at the first step.

Kyle Lightbourne

Certainly, Bermuda managed to beat Aruba 5-0 to gain some respectability after the opening group game in March. However, the June games could be considered a very disappointing period for the Gombey Warriors even though they were missing their best players from the squad due to travel restrictions placed in the United Kingdom. They suffered a heavy 6-0 defeat to Suriname, which saw them find themselves 4-0 down at the break, in the first game, before faltering to a 1-1 draw with the Cayman Islands in the final group game ensured the campaign fizzled out. A very disappointing draw considering the Caymans were the lowest-ranked team in the group and had suffered three defeats prior to the game. I would have imagined some pressure would have placed upon the head coach and Bermudian legend Kyle Lightbourne after those performances, with his four-year tenure as the manager looking under increasing threat of being concluded.

Despite an uninspiring World Cup qualification campaign, they still had the chance to qualify for the 2021 Gold Cup due to having played in Division A during the previous year’s CONCACAF Nations League. Things started off incredibly brightly when they surprisingly demolished a very lackluster Barbados side 8-1 in the playoff semi-final match, in a game that saw Nakhi Wells clinch a hat-trick. Alas, their dreams of qualifying for a second consecutive Gold Cup were dashed at the hands of Haiti in the playoff final. Three goals were conceded within an 11-minute spell during the first half which ultimately ended the tie as a contest, and despite a Wells consolation with ten minutes remaining, an 87th-minute penalty from Haiti ended any slim hopes of a comeback.

So looking at the year overall, you could argue the year has been below average. Even though Bermuda still finished to the par by clinching the third position in the group after being the third-highest seed in the group, the two poor results at the back end of the World Cup qualifying sullied any momentum that could have been gained from the Aruba win. Also, the first half capitulation to Haiti in the Gold Cup qualification playoff final is also a little worrying going forward. Nonetheless, there were positives to take from the year for Bermuda with the main one being the form of talented youngster Kane Crichlow. Four goals in his first three games show that the nation has a new superstar potentially within their midst, and could be a key player for 2022 and beyond.

Q. Looking at Bermuda’s international history, what has been the best game, result, or performance for the national team?

Considering Bermuda’s international football history, their best moment certainly has to be qualifying for the 2019 Gold Cup – their very first major international tournament at senior level. For that specific continental tournament, qualification was different than usual as it doubled as qualification for the first CONCACAF Nations League to determine which teams would be placed either Leagues A, B, or C of the three-tier competition, with league fixtures taking place between 2019 and 2020 for the inaugural competition. To determine positions and league placements, each team was placed into four pots (dependant on their FIFA World Ranking at the time) and then played four games against a team from each of the four seeded pots, with their performances after the four games being subsequently tallied up in a large league table, which would then determine the Nations League placements of each team. In addition, the ten-best performing teams in the large league table would also automatically qualify for the 2019 Gold Cup.

Zeiko Lewis

Bermuda was seeded in ‘Pot 2’ and started their qualification schedule badly against the third-seeded team Aruba when they lost their opening away fixture 3-1. However, they would soon earn their first victory when they comprehensively defeated another Dutch Caribbean team in the form of Sint Maarten by a massive scoreline of 12-0. The Gombey Warriors then achieved one of the shocks of the qualification process when they defeated top-seeded team El Salvador, with Nakhi Wells getting the only goal of the game in the 71st minute to give Bermuda a famous victory and a great chance of qualifying for the Gold Cup. Finally, facing against fellow second-seeded side Dominican Republic away from home, they conceded after just three minutes but were soon back on level terms after a quarter of an hour when Zeiko Lewis scored his fourth goal of qualifying to equalise. Second-half goals from Nahki Wells and Justin Donawa confirmed a crucial 3-1 victory and gave Bermuda their third straight win in qualifying.

As a result of their three straight victories, scoring 17 goals during qualification (that Sint Maarten result would prove important after all), and possessing a goal difference of +13, Bermuda finished in fifth position overall in the final qualification standings, finishing above such higher-ranked teams like Jamaica and El Salvador. Because they finished in fifth place, they were scheduled to play in League A for the 2019-20 CONCACAF Nations League (the highest level) but most importantly, they automatically qualified for the 2019 Gold Cup!!

The top ten performing teams who qualified for the 2019 Gold Cup.
[IMAGE: Wikipedia]
Dale Eve

For the Gold Cup, Bermuda was the third-lowest ranked side in the tournament (with only Cuba and Guyana below them in the FIFA World Rankings at the time) and was drawn in a tough group alongside co-hosts Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and fellow Caribbean nation Haiti. In their opening group game, they took on Les Grenadiers in the Costa Rican capital of San José and opened the scoring in first-half injury time when captain and centre-back Dante Leverock rose above everyone else in the penalty area to divert a corner with his head into the back of the net and give Bermuda its first-ever tournament goal. Sadly, their lead lasted only nine minutes into the second half when poor defending and marking from a free-kick allowed forward Frantzdy Pierrot a free header which he used to put the ball into the back of the net. Haiti turned the game around on the 65th minute through some good fortune when Pierrot was quickest to react to a rebound after Bermudian goalkeeper Dale Eve successfully blocked Duckens Nazon’s fierce strike from the edge of the penalty area to divert the ball past the helpless Eve to give Haiti the lead, which they held onto despite Bermuda’s best efforts.

Reggie Lambe

Bermuda’s second group game was against the co-hosts and top-seeded side in the group Costa Rica, with Bermuda needing a victory to avoid early elimination from the group. Despite having a number of early chances throughout the first half, mainly through attacking midfielder Reggie Lambe, it was their opponents who took the lead on the half-hour mark. Again it was from another rebound that Bermuda conceded from, with the initial header from a corner blocked off the line but the deflection fell to the unmarked Mayron George to prod home to give Los Ticos the advantage. They doubled their margin nine minutes after half-time when Elías Aguilar had enough time and space to fire a low rasping shot across the six-yard box and into the bottom corner. Bermuda was given a lifeline five minutes later when Nakhi Wells smashed in penalty to make the score 2-1, but were just unable to find an equaliser and sadly confirmed their elimination after two group games.

In their final group game against Nicaragua, both teams had been confirmed as being eliminated with zero points between them, meaning this final game was just for the pride of getting third place in the group. Despite having a number of great chances in the first half, it wouldn’t be until the second half when Bermuda finally broke the deadlock after an hour’s play. A cutting, defense-splitting pass allowed Lejuan Simmons to break free down the left side of the pitch before running into the area and slotting a deflected shot into the bottom corner of the net. Goalscorer Simmons would provide the assist for the second goal ten minutes later when his curling outswinging cross found the head of the unmarked Nakhi Wells to header downwards past the isolated Henry Maradiaga in goal to give Bermuda a two-goal cushion and eventual victory. A historic result for the Gombey Warriors who achieved their first win in the Gold Cup, concluded their debut tournament with a memorable moment, and confirmed the lowest-ranked team in the group finished in a creditable third place. Despite exiting at the group stage, it could be considered a superb tournament for Bermuda!

Q. What is your favourite shirt from the Bermudian national team?

There are a number of shirts that the Bermudian national team has worn over the years that I like. The first is the SCORE-made home shirt that they wore in the early 1990s during qualifying for the 1994 World Cup. It is in their traditional blue colour, with a white, football net style pinstripe across the shirt, and a white collar and sleeve trim. More pictures of that retro shirt can be found on Football Shirt World at the link below:

http://www.footballshirtworld.co.uk/blog/uncategorized/bermuda-5/

I also love the SCORE-made home and away shirts that were worn by Bermuda between 2018 and 2019. The home shirt is dark blue with a blossom pink pinstripe on the front, whilst having a blossom pink and white trim, with the away shirt being the exact same design but with the navy blue and blossom pink colours switched around. Considering pink is very rarely used in football shirts, it’s always cool to see it being used in a home shirt, and I always liked seeing a pink shirt being used in football, so these shirts are very unique. It seems as if Bermuda is using blossom pink as their permanent secondary colour as their new shirts (also made by SCORE) also use the same colour scheme, and it has been added to the BFA’s new logo.

The home and away shirts that were worn by Bermuda in 2018.

Bermudian Domestic Football

Q. What is the Bermudian football pyramid like?

At the time of writing, the Bermudian football pyramid has two levels:

  • Tier 1 – Bermudian Premier League
  • Tier 2 – Bermudian First Division

The top-tier league, the Bermudian Premier League (officially the Digicel Premier Division for sponsorship reasons), was founded in 1963 and normally has 10 teams competing in the league, although it had 11 teams in the most recent edition of the league. Each team plays each other twice (home and away) throughout the season to create an eighteen/twenty-game season. The winner of the BPL is eligible to play for the following season’s CFU Caribbean Club Shield, which ultimately feeds into the CONCACAF League, although no Bermudian champion has ever taken up their designated berth since the start of the continental competition. The bottom two clubs in the league at the end of the season are automatically relegated to the ten-team (although currently with just nine teams), second-tier First Division. The relegated teams are replaced by the First Division champions and runners-up for the following season.

The national cup competition is the Bermuda FA Cup, and has been running since 1955, with its first final coming in 1956. The inaugural winners of the national cup were BAA Wanderers who beat Southampton Rangers 3-1 in the final. Bermuda’s first-ever cup competition was the Governor’s Cup, which was first held in the 1913-14 season, and was only open to naval and military teams, whilst another cup competition, the BAA Cup, was introduced in the 1922-23 season and open to civilian clubs. A third cup tournament open to locally organised teams, the Bermuda Football League Cup, was created in 1948, before all the clubs finally entered into a “joint competition” in 1955, which became the foundation of the current BFA Cup.

Q. Which Bermudian teams are historically the most successful?

Below is a list of all of the Bermudian Premier League winners since its first inception in the 1963-64 season:

  • 11 titles: PHC Zebras
  • 10 titles: Somerset Trojans/Somerset Cricket Club
  • 9 titles: North Village Community Club
  • 8 titles: Dandy Town Hornets
  • 4 titles: Devonshire Cougars
  • 3 titles: Devonshire Colts, Vasco Mariners, Young Men’s Social Club
  • 2 titles: Boulevard Community Club, Hotels International FC
  • 1 title: Robin Hood, Southampton Rangers

In terms of the league, the league championships have been evenly spread out between a number of teams, although four specific teams have been more successful than the remainder of the bunch. The most successful team with eleven Bermudian titles is the Pembroke Hamilton Club Zebras, who unsurprisingly play in black and white striped shirts, and were founded in 1950. Based in the southern parish of Warwick, the Zebras won their first title in the 1970-71 season, with five of their championships coming between the mid-1980s and early 1990s. They were the first winners of the league for the new millennium by winning the 1999-2000 edition of the league, and most recently won the BPL in both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.

The second-most successful club is the Somerset Cricket Club Trojans who were founded in 1964 after a merger between West End Rovers (who themselves were founded in the 1930s) and Somerset Colts. The Somerset Village-based club was one of the dominant clubs in the Bermudian national league in the early period of its creation by winning four consecutive championships between 1967 and 1970. It would be another twelve years before they could add to their league tally by winning a further three leagues in a row between 1982 and 1984, before adding a further two titles in 1987 and 1993. The Trojans would have to wait a further 22 years before they could finally clinch their tenth Bermudian championship when they won the 2014-15 title – their most recent league trophy.

The third club on the list with their nine championships is the Pembroke Parish-based North Village Community Club Rams. The Rams won their first Bermudian league trophy in 1974, and added a further three leagues in the late 1970s. They would have to endure a 23-year wait before adding to their total when they finally claimed the 2001-02 league title, and then successfully defended their title the following season. They are also the current defending Bermudian champions having won their latest league trophy in the 2019-20 season after the 2020-21 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finally, with a total of eight Bermudian championships to their name is Dandy Town Hornets, who are also based in Pembroke Parish. Also known as Bermuda Hill during their history, their success in the league is relatively more recent in comparison with the previous three clubs mentioned. Founded in 1973, they won their inaugural league championship in 1988, and added a second seven years later. However, the majority of their league victories have occurred in the 21st century with another two leagues added in 2001 and 2004, before becoming the dominant team throughout the early half of the 2010s. Trophy lifts occurred in 2010, 2012, and 2014, before their most recent Bermudian championship triumph was achieved in the 2015-16 season.

The number of Bermuda FA Cup victories for each team (who have won it more than once) since the first final in 1956:

  • 11 cups: PHC Zebras
  • 10 cups: North Village Community Club
  • 9 cups: Somerset Trojans
  • 5 cups: Devonshire Colts, Vasco Mariners, Boulevard Community Club
  • 4 cups: Dandy Town Hornets
  • 3 cups: Devonshire Cougars, Young Men’s Social Club, Robin Hood

The most successful club in terms of the Bermuda FA Cup is the same side that holds the record for the most league titles won – PHC Zebras, who have eleven cup final victories in their history. The Zebras won their first cup in 1957 (only the second final held), before winning three cups in a row between 1960 and 1962. Eight of their cups were won by 1980, before their ninth came a further twelve years later in 1992. A longer wait of sixteen years was endured before their tenth cup was clinched in 2008 before their most recent cup win came in 2017, when they beat North Village 1-0 after extra time.

Talking of Zebra’s 2017 final opponents, North Village is the second-most successful team in the national cup’s history with ten cup wins. Their first national cup came in 1978, with a further three cup victories in the 1980s. However, since the turn of the millennium, the Rams have won the majority of their cup tally, winning six cup finals in seven years that included five consecutive cup wins between 2002 and 2006. They did reach the final of the 2019-20 competition but the final was abandoned due to COVID-19. Somerset Trojans have the third-highest tally of cup wins with nine national cups in their history, with the vast majority of them being accumulated between the late 1960s and 1970s. However, they are experiencing a lengthy wait to increase their total, with their last cup final triumph occurring in 1990 with a 2-0 win over Dandy Town.

In terms of the most recent ‘new’ name to win the BFA Cup, it would be Robin Hood, who are based in Pembroke Parish and named after the local pub the players were registered in when they were founded in 1977. They lifted their first major silverware in 2016 when they beat Dandy Town 2-0 in the BFA Cup final, and added a further two cups in both the 2018 and 2019 finals by defeating Southampton Rangers and X-Roads Warriors respectively. They also reached their third consecutive cup final (and fourth in five years) when they were scheduled to play in the 2020 edition, but as mentioned previously, the final match of the tournament was canceled due to the pandemic.

Sadly, in terms of CONCACAF or CFU organised continental club competitions, Bermudian teams have not been as forthcoming to take part in them, often refusing to fill their designated berth in qualifying. No Bermudian side has taken part in the Caribbean Club Shield tournament since its inception in 2018, with the 2016 Caribbean Club Championship being the last time a Bermudian club has taken part in a regional club competition. On that occasion, Somerset Trojans competed in the group stage of the tournament but failed to win any of their two group games played in Haiti. Even during the period between 2010 and 2012 when Bermudian clubs competed on a more regular scale within the CFU Club Championship, none of the three teams managed to achieve a victory. In 2010, Devonshire Cougars achieved a 2-2 draw against Vincentian side Avenues United during their group phase (where they finished bottom), whilst in 2011, Dandy Town earned a 1-1 draw with Trinidadian giants Defence Force during the Preliminary Phase, but would suffer a 3-0 defeat in the second leg to exit the competition. Finally, in the following year’s tournament, North Village achieved a goalless draw against Cayman Islander side George Town, but would again finish bottom of their group and failed to progress to the following round.

Q. Who are currently the best teams on the island?

The 2020-21 Bermudian Premier League table before COVID canceled the season.
[IMAGE: Flashscore.com]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020-21 Bermudian Premier League season was canceled after just eight or nine league games played meaning there was no champion for that season. It was a shame for Robin Hood, who had an undefeated start having won seven of their eight games and were leading the table by five points at the time of the halt to the season.

The 2021-22 Bermudian Premier League at the time of writing.
[IMAGE: Flashscore.com]

Thankfully, this season’s eleven-team Bermudian Premier League has been able to commence, and at the time of writing, the league has played between nine to eleven league games depending on the team. Dandy Town is currently leading the league with ten wins from their first eleven league games, and possessing a margin of ten points from PHC Zebras, although the Zebras have two games in hand over the league leaders. The only blot on Dandy Town’s season was a 2-0 defeat to sixth-placed side North Village in late December. Last season’s league leaders, Robin Hood, have started very poorly having only won two of their first eleven games and are just three points above the three-team drop zone in the eighth position.

The links for the Bermuda Football Association (BFA) official social media channels can be found below:

In addition, the excellent people of the World of Concacaf Podcast produce excellent podcasts that reports on football in CONCACAF, whilst doing ‘lazer-focusing‘ on a specific CONCACAF member each episode. Their podcasts are well worth listening to, and can be found at the following links below:

So that completes the look at the Bermudian national team and its domestic league. If you have any comments, suggestions, reactions, or even your own answers to the above questions, please write them in the comments box below. Likewise, you can either email us at the94thmin@gmail.com, or send a message at @The94thMin on Twitter.

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