How many places do you know in the world that have two days of national holiday to watch a cricket match? Well Tomorrow is officially Emancipation Day, marking the freedom of Bermuda’s slaves, followed by Somers Day on Friday, in honour of island founder, Sir George. But that is all very well, but the locals already camped out on the road are more concerned with cricket, drinking and grilling fresh wahoo, just plucked from the sea on their makeshift barbies.
Historians state the event, known simply as Cup Match
began in 1872, when under the organisational skills of Captain J. Moresby of the Royal Navy he arranged a game of cricket to mark the anniversary of the abolition of slavery on 1 August 1834. Ever since the cricket clubs of St. George's (east end) and Somerset (west end) have battled for victory and major bragging rights in a two-day tournament, the rest of the weekend apparently taken over by partying.
The Cup Match holiday itself only became ‘officially recognised’ in 1947 – a full 75 years after it began – largely due to the massive popularity of the game and also the fact that no one actually showed up for work. In 1999 the second day, the Friday was also granted as a public holiday in honour of English Admiral, Sir George Somers, who colonized Bermuda in 1609.
The venue alternates each year and well over 7,000 people attend one or both days with tens of thousands more tuning in on the radio, either at home, on the beach, on the water or camped out on any spare blade of grass they can find. The past couple of years the game has also been covered on local television. In the ground spectators drink, dance, eat and try their luck at an old dice game called Crown & Anchor
, tomorrow and Friday being the only two days of legalised public gambling the government permits.
I am told the cricket can be a bit of a side show and Cup Match is certainly a place for people watching, maybe behind some very dark glasses however, but we will find out for ourselves as we've actually got some tickets so we plan to pop along in the morning (doors open at 9am) before I have to head off to the airport later in the evening.