The once famous Mental Hospital Sports Club and playfield which is also known as the National Psychiatric or Fort Canje Hospital is being rehabilitated. Situated in the hospital compound at Fort Canje, next to the Canje Bridge, the facility once boosted a lot of amenities and was one of the top sporting facilities in Berbice and Guyana. It was also one of the Mecca of first class cricket. However, it was left for pasture and is prone to flooding.
The rehabilitation work is being done by the Government of Guyana through the Ministry Of Public Health and the Regional Administration. Presently massive under bushing is ongoing and the perimeter drains are been dug. Truckloads of dirt have been deposited and leveled on the outfield to raise the level. The pitch is also expected to be relayed.
The Mental Hospital Sports Club which was one of the premiere cricket clubs in Berbice was a founding member of the Berbice Cricket Board which came into being in 1939.
Other founding member clubs were Police Sports Club and the then Sugar Estates in Berbice – Blairmont, Albion, Port Mourant, Skeldon, Rose Hall and Providence Estates Cricket Clubs.
According to writer, administrator and Former Secretary of The Berbice Cricket Board, Mortimer George, the Mental Hospital Sport Club once participated in first division cricket in Berbice and Guyana. Its facilities were one of the best in Berbice.
The venue hosted a number of International cricket matches where Berbice played against Trinidad, Barbados and Jamaica on a regular basis in the 40s and 50s.
The venue also hosted International Track and field, national and international cycling events with riders from the Caribbean and England adorning the facility on a regular basis.
Football and motorcycle racing and international cultural events were also regular features at the venue.
George, who has written a number of books about Berbice cricket, once played with the club as a fast bowler before turning to medium pace and then Leg spin after being troubled by back problems.
He was also a senior police officer who served in many positions in the Berbice and Guyana Cricket Boards from the age of 22.
According to George the cricket club was among the strongest in Berbice dating back to the 1940s. One Dr Gransult, who was in charge of the Hospital at the time, was an ardent cricket fan and played an integral part in the affairs and success of the entity.
International Players such as- The late Leslie Amsterdam, former test batsman Leonard Baichan, Bertie Minty, the Murray Brothers Hamil and Patrick, Charles Paul Senior and Junior, Maul Teekasingh, the Late Vibert Joshashen, and the father and son of Godfrey and Hubern Evans, Michael Hyles, Lloyd Benjamin Andrews, Indal Persaud, Calvin and Cyril Plummer among numerous others were members of the Mental Hospital Sports Club.
According to George, If not for lady luck a number of them would have made the West Indies team in those days.
There were also outstanding administrators the likes of Amsterdam, Shan Razack, the Plummers, Lakeraj Harry and George.
The sports club was recently reestablished and is all set to re-enter cricket and other sporting activities in Berbice and Guyana. Lights are also expected to adorn the facilities soon.
The objective is to once again make it a central point of sports in Berbice. (Samuel Whyte)
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