How to do Cup Match like a Bermudian

Mikaela Ian

The song goes: “Cup Match time in Bermuda, BACCHANAL, BACCHANAL. Go, go, go, Arrow, Go, go, go Arrow, Jam Bermuda, Jam Bermuda”!

It is THE song for Cup Match time in Bermuda and has been sung since I was a child. So what is Cup Match? Cup Match celebrates the island’s emancipation from slavery. It’s the biggest event on the Bermuda calendar, taking place during the last Thursday and Friday in July or the first Thursday and Friday in August. Its emphasis is a cricket match between two rivals, St. George’s and Somerset.

St. George’s fans wear light blue and dark blue while Somerset fans wear red and dark blue. I’m a St. George’s fan through and through. Unfortunately, I married a Somerset bie, so my household is divided.

I won’t go into the full history, but long story short, Cup Match was introduced after the abolition of slavery in Bermuda. Men from Somerset and St. George’s met annually in a friendly rivalry to play a cricket match. In 1901, two major friendly societies were playing the match and agreed to play for a trophy. The following year, the trophy was produced, and Cup Match became official.

But Cup Match is much more than a cricket match. It’s the comradery between friends and family, the rivalries on the pitch, the delicious fried seafood, the overflowing drinks, the soca music, the banter, the atmosphere and the vibe. So how can you experience Cup Match in Bermuda like a Bermudian? Here are five ways:

 Photo by: Dennis Martins Photo by: Dennis Martins

1. Go to the Game

This is pretty self explanatory. This year, the game is being played at Somerset Cricket Club. If you want the ultimate Cup Match Experience, you have to get yourself up to the field. it’s best to get there before the game starts so that you can experience the first ball. If you’re a newbie, go early on the first day and immerse yourself in the whole vibe of Cup Match. There is nothing like it! You will need to pay entry, which is usually $20, at the gate and you can stay all day. Grab a programe, read a bit about the history and learn about the game.

 Photo by: Dennis Martins Photo by: Dennis Martins

2. Hop from Camp to Camp

If you’re lucky, you’ll meet a Bermudian at some point during the day. As we are the friendliest people in the world, you will be invited into their “camp” at the game. It’s not really a camp, it’s a small plot/space in the scaffolding that goes around the perimeter of the field. Once you get in, you will be showered with drinks and even food. Enjoy the experience and be gracious. Spending time in a camp at Cup Match is the best way to enjoy the day and the best way to meet Bermudians.

3. Drink a ton of Swizzle

Cup Match is a party and at a party, we drink drinks. The drink of choice during the two-day festivities is Rum Swizzle, Bermuda’s unofficial national drink. One you get in a camp (see above), you will likely be handed a cup of cold swizzle. Drink it up and keep drinking it all day. Everyone has their own recipe, and everyone thinks their swizzle in the best. One of my favourite parts of Cup Match is going from camp to camp and trying everyone’s swizzle. It’s a must do. But don’t drink too much and end up being that tourist who can’t handle the swizzle. Sip on water in between.

 Photo by: Dennis Martins Photo by: Dennis Martins

4. Get you some fried fish

You did not come to Cup Match to eat healthy. I’m just getting that out the way real quick. This is not the time to be on a diet at all. The food on offer will likely be fried, so just go with it and indulge. My favourite thing to eat at the game is fried fish. There’s just something about the fried fish at Cup Match that just tastes better than everyday fried fish. There are a few quality stalls out there, but the best is Country Kitchen. They’ve found a way to make well-seasoned, crispy, not dry fish. Oh and their sauce is amazing. Make sure you grab fish from there. Thank me later.

 Photo by; Dennis Martins Photo by; Dennis Martins

5. Try your luck at Crown and Anchor

It wouldn’t be Cup Match without Crown and Anchor. Gambling is illegal in Bermuda except during Cup Match so the risk takers come out in full force with their cash hoping to make more. The game is a simple dice game, played between the player and the banker. The player places a bet on one or more symbols. The banker then throws the dice and if there is a bet on any symbol which comes up on the dice, the banker pays the player. It’s easy, it’s fun and it’s risky. Make sure you don’t put down more than you can risk losing!

Those are five ways you can enjoy Cup Match in Bermuda like a local. Did I miss anything?

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