During last week, there appeared in the press articles on two of my all-time favourite sportsmen. Both articles caused me to reminisce on the pure joy I got watching them perform.
Vibert Butts (fondly called Derdi) was an extraordinary footballer. During his playing days, in an era when Guyana produced a number of fine players, he was, in my opinion, the best pure striker in the country. A naturally gifted goal scorer, he was nifty with the ball at his feet and brilliant in the air. His philosophy was to use any means necessary to get the ball in the goal.
Lennox Arthur described a goal Derdi Butts scored for Pele in a match in Linden that typified the man. Labba Barton dibbled two hapless players and played the ball wide to Terry Nichols. Terry fired the ball goalwards, and Derdi leapt above and over a defender, met the flying ball with a header that produced a stunning goal. Derdi Butts was never afraid to put his body on the line to score a goal. It was indeed with sadness that I read of his incarceration.
Ian McDonald shared with us, through the local press, an article by Simon Barnes which was an account of the heroics of Malcolm Marshall during the Headingly Test in 1984. In summary, Marshall had an outstanding match, playing with a thumb broken in two places. First he unexpectedly came out to bat to allow Larry Gomes to score a century, and then proceeded to take 7 for 53 to set up a West Indies win.
I recall watching Marshall playing for the WI against Australia at Bourda. He was over the wicket to the great left-hander Allan Border, and then suddenly noticed something and switched and came in around the wicket. Bowled down! The crowd was ecstatic. Of the great West Indies fast bowlers of his era, Marshall is considered by many the best of them all.
And so it was that I enjoyed some very pleasant memories of Vibert Butts and Malcolm Marshall, two of my favourite sportsmen, one deceased, one now incarcerated.