Cricket

Memories by the score — Simon Dickson

By Robbie Robinson

Sunday, June 17, 2018

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Simon Dickson was born in Kingston, Jamaica, the second child for Captain Bobby Dickson — a pilot in the Jamaica Air Wing, and accomplished schoolboy hockey and football player, and World War 2 veteran, and Barbara Dickson — a former Captain of the national women's hockey team.

He lost his dad tragically in a plane crash at the Palisadoes airport while giving flying lessons. Years later he lost his mother in a traffic accident while crossing Constant Spring Road.

But tragedy often has a way of building character, and with a DNA such as his Simon Dickson was destined to achieve some decree of brilliance as a sportsman.

In his early days at Surbiton Prep he recalls coming second in a race as his only significant achievement. He represented the school at football but their achievements were nothing to write home about.

But from that tender age he was beginning to show an aptitude for lawn tennis.

After leaving preparatory school, he moved to the school that his father attended — Wolmer's Boys' School.

At Wolmer's he made an immediate impact in tennis as by that time he was rated one of the leading juniors in the island, with one of his former schoolmates, Greg Russell (younger brother of Compton Russell and cousin to the many-time Jamaican and Caribbean champion, Richard Russell) being one of his contemporaries along with the highly rated Stewart Sarnia.

During his early years he was a member of the tennis team that won the coveted Gibson Cup for the under 16 age group for the school. In fact, Simon had the distinction of never losing a match while representing Wolmer's in the Gibson Cup and the Jamaica Mutual Shield.

Dickson, when asked, said that he cannot recall ever losing a match when representing his school. There was one memorable clash with the highly touted Richard Stephenson of St George's College in a crucial match for the Mutual Life Shield. Dickson, displaying natural ball skills, wiped out his highly favoured opponent to maintain his unbeaten record.

He lists his high point in tennis as the time he beat Stewart Sarnia to take the All-Jamaica in Mandeville.

He was also very competitive at table tennis but never took the game seriously. But it was just a matter of time before Simon Dickson's DNA would show up on the hockey field. He was thrown into the sport from third form when he made his debut for Wolmer's. He had sharp reflexes and a keen eye, which are critical skills for the game.

By age 15 he was recruited to play for Kingston Cricket Club which at the time, boasted the likes of the late Tony Burrowes and former Men's Hockey Association President Alva Anderson, both former national players. Simon jovially recalls travelling with a club team to play in the JFK Tournament in Washington, DC, when Anderson asked Burrowes what time was the “curfew”. Burrowes then responded by asking what time was the first game, and was told 9:00 am. He then said “well curphew is 8:30 am.”

On the more serious side, Dickson was a regular member of the National team and was an automatic selection once he was willing to train, which unfortunately was not always. In fact he was one of the country's outstanding players before he reached adulthood. Once he was on the field, his competitiveness came to the fore. He hated to lose.

Dickson confessed that hockey was his favourite sport and when asked about his favourite moment, he recalled a hockey final at Sabina Park. “Kingston was playing Blackhawks and got a short corner. Alva hand stopped and I scored.

“Come the second half Raiders got a short corner and Duckworth Daley 'corked' it heading to the top corner. I was in the goal and was able to deflect the ball over the top. Blackhawks yelled for 'sticks' but the umpire Mr Ganguli waved them off saying that I had actually jumped and held the stick below my shoulder.”

For his low point he spoke of “not beating Argentina in the Pan Am Games of 1974, I believe, in Mexico City. We were nil all and got a penalty which was sent over the goal to the moon and we eventually lost 2-0. I remember we were a good side”.

After leaving school, Simon, although representing his school at a few colts games and never playing Manning Cup, represented and captained his team at university in the USA. He was voted Pepsi Player in the South and MVP offensive player for his team scoring most goals for his side (even though he was the sweeper).

In his adult life he played a lot of squash, tennis and golf. He actually played Masters League football for a few years but didn't enjoy it that much.

Simon Dickson has been living in Montego Bay for the past 17 years and works with the Sandals Resorts International as group landscaper. Nowadays he enjoys walking his dogs on the golf course and going to the gym. He is married and the father of three children — Jaime, who is a fitness instructor in Holland; Shannon, a cross fitness trainer in Orlando who once represented Jamaica as a junior golfer, and her high school, Immaculate, at tennis and netball; and Robert, who lives in Jamaica and enjoys the gym. It is clear that the DNA of sports still dominates his family line.

Editor's note: Robbie Robinson is an attorney-at-law, public speaker, sports journalist, sports enthusiast and singer.

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