Basil “Bar” Davis, Bruce “Dick Brown” Russell, Sherrick “Sharky” Martin, Jessee Ferguson, Allan Ingraham, Jeff Williams, Jim White, and Don Huyler are names from a past era of American Football that breathe nostalgia.
Very often these days, I interact with the shark, the running back who gobbled up yards like few others, nationwide, have. No other running back out of Grand Bahama has ever been able to carry the ball at the level of efficiency, comparable to the shark.
I refer to Sherrick Martin, who is the Customs Chief in Grand Bahama.
Almost always, we talk a bit about the golden era of American Football in the country. The aforementioned names are just a sample of the legendary individuals who built the foundation that a revived sport stands on today.
Martin was one of those players who transcended the normal concept of the game of American Football. On many occasions, he played beyond the success range expected. These days, he has no choice but to acknowledge the strides made in the sport by the flag dimension, but he admittedly longs for the tackle aspect to recapture the old days.
Here are some comments of lament from Martin:
“American football was the top sport. The fans flocked the venues to see us play.
Tackle football is not what it used to be.
“The fans were very important to us. They were instrumental to the success of our game. They followed us and were into the game as much as the players. I don’t see that connection for tackle football now.
“American Football was big. When we travelled to New Providence and when teams came to Grand Bahama, the games captured the attention of a great number of people. That kind of a rivalry in tackle football, you don’t see anymore.”
Without a doubt, tackle football has taken a back seat to the flag version of the sport. Thousands of players, males and females are registered on teams that compete in three prime flag football organizations, in New Providence, Grand Bahama and Abaco. Based on what I have observed, it could be argued that tackle football, even in its prime in the country, was never as popular as flag football is today.
In fact, it is through flag football that the sport in The Bahamas is on the verge of a major international breakthrough. Bahamian Flag football is at the point whereby it can attract an international audience. The same cannot be said about our tackle football.
So whereas “Sharky” Martin and others of the “old school” ilk relish the high profile their beloved sport is getting because of the inroads made by flag football, he grieves for yesteryear.
“I’d like to see tackle football return to the prominence we once had,” said Martin.
His desire could become a reality, in time. For now though, it is flag football, taking the sport on a glorious ride.
Indeed, the future looks very bright for the sport, because of the major role being played by flag football.
However, the shark and others are entitled to reminisce about how it used to be.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com).
Published Thursday, January 5, 2017