Matric. Rugby season. I’m not playing. Old pipe-smoking, Andy Capp cap-wearing, grog-loving, moustachioed Stollie Beukes came up to me at school and asked straight-forwardly and politely, no weaseling, no guilt-suggesting. That’s him ‘playing goalie’ above.
“Ons kort a paar manne in die derdespan. Sal jy vir ons speel?”
“Ja, sekerlik,” I said, “Sal ek oefenings moet bywoon?” That would have ended it. I have an aversion to training in sport. Makes you sweaty. If you enjoy a sport, do the sport. Training? Ha!
“Nee, net op Saterdag,” he said.
Cool. So I got a coupla games on the President Brand Park B field; the field with the wooden poles on part of the cricket pitch. You can see the posts behind Stollie in the pic.
Being the mighty third (also last) team, we played early – before the first team, so we could all go and support them in our smelly kit. If it was in the morning there could be frost in the shade of those trees. The game would attract only a handful of the most die-hard spectators.
Then at the end of the season I played in the last game, the traditional matrics vs the rest of school. I don’t know who won? I dislocated my collar bone near the end and went off to see GP Mike van Niekerk, where he glanced at it, told me to wear a sling – “Your mother will know how to do it” – and then spent his time trying to change my future career. And he almost did.
The next year I played a season of American football; Two years later I played rugger again. In Joburg for Wanderers Club.
“Ons kort a paar manne in die derdespan. Sal jy vir ons speel?”– We need some superb and exciting talent in the Mighty Thirds. Will you sign up?
“Ja, sekerlik,” “Sal ek oefenings moet bywoon?” – Sure. I’m naturally fit, (right!) so I’m ready to play!
“Nee, net op Saterdag”– play the games only, no need to attend practice; a sign of desperation