It was a day of celebration in Bressay on Saturday as the isle’s new sports pitch was officially opened and the football team played Sandwick in a friendly match.
Shetland football stalwart Jim Peterson was invited to cut the tape and thankfully the impending rain held off for the ceremony, although a stiff breeze was blowing across the field.
“I’m very pleased to be invited here today,” Mr Peterson said. “I didn’t know what to expect but it’s great to see the pitch looking as good.
“I look on this as the last piece in the jigsaw. Every other area has a pitch and now Bressay has one.
“Well done to all the organisers. I hope both teams have a good game and with great delight I declare the Bressay Sports Field open.”
After a short prayer of dedication by the Rev Billy Christie the match got under way (<i>see separate report</i>). A beer tent and barbecue tent was available nearby and an excellent crowd turned up for the big day.
In the evening a buffet dance was held at the Bressay Hall and before the band Big Robbie and Friends took to the stage a few speeches were made.
Most who spoke paid tribute to Bressay Sports Club chairman Kenny Groat and the unstinting work he had put in over the past 10 years as the £290,000 project took root.
SIC community worker June Porter and grants co-ordinator Michael Duncan both made that point, with the latter revealing that, among other important numbers, “Kenny’s mobile” would forever be fixed in his brain. He also mentioned the hundreds of emails which he had received, such was Mr Groat’s dedication to the job in hand.
Engineer Roy Whitehead said the fact that the pitch had turned out so well was pretty amazing, considering it was one of the worst pieces of land he had ever seen. He was not a big fan of the council, he said, but the work put in by Ms Porter had made him change his mind.
Former Maryfield Hotel owner and team sponsor Dave Wood, another who has been involved with the project for many years, described the emotion he was feeling, especially when his grandson had scored the opening goal for Bressay.
Sandwick captain Erik Peterson revealed that the match was the final one for veteran Iain “Pundie” Smith, but there again it was actually his fifth retiral, before presenting a gift to his Bressay counterpart Richie Gardner.
Mr Gardner mentioned Bressay’s famous Parish Cup quarter-final victory this year over Delting, and fittingly presented Mr Groat with a signed photo of the team.
Mr Peterson was the last to speak, recalling memories of the Parish Cup and the amount of travelling involved in the early days, in particular a trip by the Burra team, which he had formed, to play Unst.
He referred to the earlier goalkeeping performance by Mr Groat, who had been the third of fourth choice on the day, and closed with the following story.
“Kenny was outside the ferry terminal one day, when he heard a big commotion coming from a nearby hotel.
“It was quickly discovered that the building was on fire, and Kenny rushed over to see how he could help. A young woman was holding a baby out the window, calling for someone to save the child if she dropped it.
“Kenny, being a top goalkeeper, braced himself and made an excellent catch. But then he forgot where he was, bounced the baby a couple of times and kicked it upfield!”