To some members of the ship's company the Derry's soccer team was said to be carried onboard especially for that purpose, except for an occasional time when you'll see them all going up to collect their pay. Well, to say that we had a good side to start with is an insult; I'll go as far as to say we had one of the best frigate soccer teams that could be fielded.
After our trials down Portland the nucleus of the team was formed, playing our first game against HMS Grafton with us winning convincingly 14-0. With a win like that behind us and full of confidence we then went on to trounce the rest of the ships down Portland for work-ups.
The team suffered the first bad blow when the skipper of the side AB Palmer (Pedlar) had to go off into Haslar for a cartilage operation just before our trip to the blue Mediterranean started. We hear now that his ticket has come through and he'll be out of the "Mob" very soon, we wish him all the best as we know that someone who loves soccer as much as he does just doesn't like to step down like that.
On to the Canary Isles and Med, to play against the top team of Tenerife, Santa Cruz. Most of the lads will say it was our best game although we went down 2-0. I think the thing we most remember there was our referee "Boots" Butler ticking off one of the Spaniards in his "Brummie" - come-Spanish "lingo". We gave a good show of ourselves in Italy by beating the Italian Navy 2-1. A couple of games in Malta with one of the poorest displays against the destroyer HMS Saintes who later went on to win the Med. Cup. Then to Gib. where the cry came "We wuz robbed". Playing against HMS Broadsword, their Cox'n refereed the game and not only did he disallow our goal, but sent off the scorer to prove his point. We've always maintained we won that game, despite the score which was a 3-2 defeat.
After leave, which was well earned, we found ourselves with two games in Londonderry, against Derry City (lost 6-4) and Inniskillings (lost 5-0) for which we put the blame on the ship's dance and all the hospitality given to us.
Our next game played was some 3,000 miles away and three months later. Not being used to the heat HMS Rothesay took advantage and beat us 3-1, after stacks of comment from both lots of supporters. On our first trip around the islands we came back to Bermuda undefeated, having played nine games, winning seven and drawing two. Whilst back in Bermuda we established ourselves by beating Somerset Colts three times, Queen of Bermuda once, and tying with a visiting French frigate three apiece.
Everyone was looking forward to our next cruise which was to take us through Panama and as far north as Vancouver in Canada. Our first game was a taste of what we were in for, playing in the terrible heat against one of the crack teams of Mexico, Acapulco. According to the papers the next day we gave them a good game, with the Inglese going down 7-1. "Gringo" Johnson scoring a peach. The next day the same team played against the National Banks of Mexico, losing 8-4. There we could put the blame on the beautiful senoritas, who were chanting for their team. (Ask "I", he'll know).
Our next couple of games were our first taste of playing on grass pitches for some time, coming off the better against RCN Barracks Esquimalt 5-3. Over to Vancouver, where we thoroughly beat the WISE Club 9-0, with "Grippos" after it. Whilst up in Vancouver we had the unique chance of seeing the great Real Madrid team play at the Empire Games Stadium against Toronto FC, which sported many ex-British players such as Tommy Younger in goal.
On our return trip down the coast we had the first chance for many of us of playing under floodlights, when we stopped in at Long Beach and travelled away to play the Hollywood FC. After a thrilling game where we turned around at half time only one goal down (thinking we could win), we were run into the ground mainly through lack of physical fitness and lost 6-0. From then on we seemed to go on a decline losing to the Yankees in San Diego 5-3, and in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, we lost twice.
Passage back through the Canal brought us to Curacao where we lost to the Dutch Navy. On to British Guiana to play the Country team at the stadium there, probably the best soccer team we came up against, losing 8-0, our biggest defeat. I think from there on our team started back on the winning streak. On arrival back in Bermuda we have now come to the fore as one of the top teams of the island, on beating the Island Police (the top white club) 7-1.
Whilst on the South American trip we finished champs of the Squadron beating HMS Lion in a hard-fought battle 1-0. Back at Bermuda we took on HMS Bermuda with full confidence and ran away victorious 3-2.Ship's Soccer XI:
AB Parry, LEM Gordon, AB Bennett, LTO Davy, Mech Barber, RS Bramley, AB Peacock, LREM Brown, LS Smith, LREM Power, and EM Turnbull. With full support from tip-top reserves: LM(E) Johnson, RO2 Wickham, AB Kelly, CEA Brain, POM(E) McNeil, and of course our utility player and referee LM(E) Butler.
A big thanks to our loyal supporters.
The cricket team had the honour of being the first sports team to represent the ship. The first team, selected from those standing by at Cowes, played a representative team from "Sammy Whites." The builders' team was beaten by four wickets. From this beginning has arisen a most enjoyable, if sometimes unsuccessful, commission's cricket.
The cricket really got under way when the ship arrived on the West Indies Station in May, 1961. Between the arrival and January, 1962, 18 games were played, the results being six wins, three draws and nine lost.
Undoubtedly some of the best games were played during the west coast cruise, and the games against the University of British Columbia, Monterey and the Hollywood teams spring to mind, it was rather a shock to arrive at the Hollywood ground to find ourselves up against a team headed by a Pakistani Test trialist, an Australian Sheffield Shield player and three Lancashire League professionals!
The players who have continually represented the ship are:
Chief Electrical Artificer Brain. The team's captain, he has not had all the luck that he deserved, and continuous good bowling throughout the commission has only netted him 12 wickets. However his able leadership has largely contributed to the success which the team has had. His best personal performances were a knock of 16 against Monterey, and taking 3 wickets for 25 runs against the San Diego Cricket Club.
Lieutenant Cooke-Priest. Undoubtedly the most able batsman in the team, he finished the season with an enviable average of 27 runs. Against the Barbados Fire Brigade he scored 48 not out, his best for the commission.
REA Hyder. Our 2nd most successful bowler, he has taken 30 wickets, for an average of 13 runs per wicket. His best day was against the San Diego Cricket Club, when in 15 overs, including 7 maidens, he took 4 wickets for 21 runs. An innings of 27 against the University of British Columbia was his best score.
LEM Reid. He finished the season with a very good record of constant good bowling and getting some runs. Whenever our batting has been in trouble, he could be relied upon to knock the bowling around. In his total of 168 runs he has hit 21 fours and one six. His best innings was 36 not out against the University of British Columbia, and he got 5 for 44 against Rosario.
Lieutenant-Commander Salmon. He has had mixed success with both his batting and bowling. An inexpensive bowler, and he can always hold up one end against the other team's bowling. His best games were 22 against the Barbados Fire Brigade, and 3 for 22 against Rosario.
Lieutenant Gatacre, RAN. Our "Colonial" representative has had some mixed success bowling slow ones to the West Indians, who prefer the quicker bowlers. Capturing 8 wickets for 14 runs in 6 overs was his best performance. With the bat, a score of 65 against the Queen of Bermuda was his best innings.
Lieutenant-Commander Straker. Staff Officer Operations to SNOWI, he spent six months with the ship, and played for that period. A steady opening bat who has not managed to get very many runs, and a useful spin bowler with an extraordinary action. However this action netted him 3 for 18 against the University of British Columbia, so there must be something to it after all.
POREL Miller. Stated off the season by being hit on the temple by an extremely fast bowler at St Thomas, but managed to retain his sense of humour, and he has kept the team amused at most of our games. He has had little success opening the batting, and he too seldom got a chance to bowl.
RO2 Wickham. The team's wicketkeeper has personally captured 11 wickets. His very good keeping has permitted only 76 byes out of a total of 1,931 runs against us in 469 overs. An extremely good record. A steady opening bat, his best score was 25 against the Queen of Bermuda.
LM(E) Simpson. Despite a score of 22 against the Queen of Bermuda, he has not had a particularly good season with his batting. With just a little luck he could have scored quite a few runs. A fine fielder he has a good throw.
M(E) Fairman. Born in Jamaica, although he has spent all his life in England, he has been very popular with all the crowds we have had watching. I don't think I've heard such an ovation as he received for his bowling in St. Thomas. His best bowling was against Rosario when he got 2 for 25, and batting number 9 he got 11 not out (including a six) at Port of Spain.
It was most unfortunate that during the initial work-up and home cruise in the Atlantic and Mediterranean waters it was not possible to indulge in a comprehensive "weeding out of shotists." However, a fairly substantial team of previous shooters was formed by January, 1961, when we left for Londonderry and the Arctic.
At Londonderry we fired our first match and thus had our first indication of our capabilities. The match was easily won by County Omagh and the subject of training on Guinness was discussed. The same team fired against the 7th Regiment, National Guard, New York, in a .22 match. The team average improved, though probably that could be put down to the lady spectators present. Before, during, and after the match, terrific hospitality was shown and Regimental ties were exchanged with Londonderry-crested ashtrays, under the patronage of the British Consul and the Colonel of the Regiment.
All other matches were shot whilst "on station" in the West Indies, and during this time the Londonderry team fired matches with .303, .22, and .38 revolver. On no occasion did the members, it might be mentioned, discredit the sport, the ship or the team.
Among other teams met: Trinidad Police, at .303, and here we were really shown how shooting should be done; Barbados, at .38; HMCS Discovery, Vancouver, at .22; and L'Arquebuse in Martinique, at .22 at 200 metres.
In South America, at Rosario, a very keen match was held with the Argentine Army, a cup being presented by the Government of Argentina for the occasion. The scores were scrutinised after each "pair-detail", but at no time was there a greater difference than eight points. It was not until the last detail of the match when our last man scored a higher shot than his opponent with one to go that the result was known. Great hospitality was extended here after the match in the form of an "asado" or barbecue, which I feel sure all concerned will remember whenever they think of the South American cruise of 1961-62.
Lastly, but by no means of least importance, we were able to shoot with the rifle clubs of Bermuda every weekend of our visits. They were very keen to shoot against strangers, as we were in foreign countries.
Always in Bermuda the organisation and hospitality has been good, the "native-shotists" ever friendly, even when we did win from the Bermuda War Veterans' Association the cup presented by the Mid-Ocean News, "To be shot for between the BWVA and the visiting ship of the Royal Navy on the West Indies Station." This was the first time the cup had been taken away from the BWVA since it had been presented.
Individual trophies won were: REA Gasston top score in a Special Squadron Team versus Argentine Army, at Madryn, South Argentina. OA Bel1 Second Individual .22 pistol at Bermuda Bisley.
All in all it has been a most enjoyable commission "shooting wise" and it is hoped that following ships will appreciate the shooting world of the West lndies as much as we have.
Hockey on board ship will nearly always come second best to football, and in a ship where there is a good football team this is even more likely to be the case. However, in spite of this, hockey has been played enthusiastically throughout the commission, and although the nucleus of the team has remained the same, some 25 different players have represented the First Xl.
Seymour has normally kept goal, and although not an experienced keeper he has made some good saves.
ERA Clarke also kept goal on several occasions and with more practice he could make a good goalie. Most prominent among the backs were Lieutenant Gatacre and Sub Lieutenant Rees, who were staunchly supported by CPO Herbert and PO McKeon before the latter "hung up his stick," with mutterings of "old age" and "my shins"!
The half-back line was probably the strongest part of the side, with Lieutenant Commander D. Salmon a tireless centre-half, ably supported by Lieutenant Leggott, Sub Lieutenant Bridgeman and ME Freshwater.
The forwards, although they at times produced some extremely good movements, unfortunately showed an inability to score goals when given the chance, which deprived the team of several wins which they could have had. The forward line in fact changed most frequently which perhaps accounts for some of the uncertainty, but in most of the games Lieutenant Cooke-Priest, PO Manders, Mechanician McMordie, the Coxswain, OA Nunn and OS Dawson appeared in varying combinations.
During the year we played on many different types of pitch, from the dust of Corradino, the mud of the North Irish Brigade ground at Eglinton; to Bermuda's grass and concrete, and although our match results of four games won, one drawn and nine lost are unspectacular, we had many close and enjoyable games.
The following teams were amongst our opponents: HM Ships Sole bay, Saintes, Troubridge and Sea Eagle, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, The Royal Hampshires, The West India Regiment, a Royal Netherlands Navy team, The Cathedral HC, Londonderry, Sandys Boat Club, Harrington HC, and the Bermuda Hockey Association, Trinidad Rugby Club, The British Guiana Police Force, and the Privateers, a touring side from the USA.
Although the inter-part competition was not completed, the Wardroom had won all their games to date, and the Chiefs and Petty Officers were next, having lost only to the Wardroom.
The above account was written by the captain of the hockey team, Lieutenant Cooke-Priest. The editors would like to point out that, whether due to reticence, modesty or a bad memory, he omits to mention the ability of the outstanding member of the side himself.
During the early part of the commission very little rugby was played. In fact in the home leg only two games were played. Those games were against HMS Osprey and Londonderry Town RFC. It is sad to record that both games were lost.
Since coming to the West Indies however the amount of rugby played has increased. Most of the games have been played in Bermuda where the climatic conditions in the winter look more favourably on rugby than they do in the islands further south. However we have also played in Trinidad and Georgetown, and many of us bear scars to this day to prove it.
Our first game was played in Trinidad against one of the local clubs. We played in the supposed cool of the early evening and after a very enjoyable game we finished up losers 8-18. However we definitely weren't beaten in the entertainment that followed.
Soon after we played our second game in the even warmer conditions of Georgetown. The pitch was in superb condition to look at and except for the lack of stands we could have been playing at Twickenham or Murrayfield. Our play wasn't up to the standard of the pitch or our opponents, who, it is worth recording, used the game as a trial for the West Indies inter-island rugby competition which was due to be played a few weeks later. Sad to say the score mounted so quickly against us that neither the referee nor the spectators could keep count accurately.
In the bar afterwards the general concensus of opinion was that the score was in the region of 50-0.
On our return to Bermuda in November fixtures came in thick and fast and we looked like getting in plenty of games. However our trip to British Honduras caused a number of these games to be cancelled. The first game we managed to play was against the Police XV, generally reckoned to be the best in the island, and we lost 46-0.
HM Submarine Aurochs visited Bermuda late in November and we took the opportunity to arrange a combined team with them. This team played two games and although both were lost the local sides were given a better run for their money.
That to date is the ship's rugby record, although we are hoping for more games in the near future. It looks a pretty sad record as far as results and points go, but the few players we have in the ship are certainly keen and have enjoyed their rugby.
The following people have played for the ship's team: Lieutenant Commander D. Salmon, Lieutenant Gatacre, Lieutenant Cooke-Priest, Sub Lieutenant Wigley, Sub Lieutenant Brewer, EA Brain, ERA Clarke, Leading Writer Hartenfeld, Leading Seaman Hessey, LRO Marston, AB Jenkins, AB Davies, AB Wilcox, AB Darrington, AB Green, AB Seymour, AB Leverton, AB Cranfield, AB Peacock, NAAFI Canteen Assistant Waller, OS Jones.