Maybe we should let go of time-worn foot­ball clubs

CityPress - - Sport - S’Bu­siso Mse­leku sm­se­leku@city­ Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Sbu_Mse­leku

This week I found my­self re­gal­ing some col­leagues with anec­dotes about Bush Bucks.

Not Mthatha Bucks but the orig­i­nal “Um­dak’ om­nyama olala ekhwanini” that was founded by the Rev­erend Carl­ton in 1902 at Ifafa Mis­sion on the KZN South Coast.

The stuff I told the two keen lis­ten­ers was based on what my late fa­ther Michael Dumezweni Mse­leku – AKA Ace of Trou­ble – told me as a young man, and from what I had gleaned from his­tory books and news­pa­per cut­tings.

They were trans­fixed as I told them how Bucks used to travel two days by foot to Adams Col­lege, be­cause the only “neigh­bour­ing” team they could play against was the col­lege’s team, known as The Shoot­ing Stars.

The lat­ter had been es­tab­lished around the same time by mis­sion­ar­ies who ran the school.

The story was prompted by my call­ing busi­ness ed­i­tor Justin Brown “Mr Brown” and the ask­ing him if he had heard of the name Topper Brown.

When he pleaded ig­no­rance, I asked him to google the name, and voilà!

There it was: “1955 Topper Brown, a Bri­tish coach, leads Natal Africans to vic­tory in both the Moroka-Baloyi Cup and the Natal In­ter-Race Singh Cup.”

I went on to tell them how Brown used to coach a whites-only Dur­ban City side by day and sneak out to help Bush Bucks at night.

Lit­tle did I know that this recital was to catch up with me later – I hardly slept that night. My heart al­ways bleeds when I think of Bush Bucks.

How can a club that went for a decade without los­ing at home, an out­fit that was a bea­con of hope, be left to die a sad and painful death?

The last time I checked, they were some­where in the SAB League, the fifth tier of South African foot­ball.

They were on their way to fol­low­ing the Dodo into ex­tinc­tion, as well as another club with a colour­ful his­tory from the same re­gion, African Wan­der­ers, who have dis­ap­peared from the SA foot­ball land­scape.

My heart also bleeds when I see where Moroka Swal­lows are, in the ABC Mot­sepe League, un­less Gaut­eng Ed­u­ca­tion MEC Panyaza Le­sufi and his con­sor­tium suc­ceed in their bid to buy a PSL sta­tus for the club.

But even if they do, they will no longer be The Dube Butcher Birds we knew and loved.

AmaZulu, once the pride of the en­tire KZN prov­ince and al­most ev­ery per­son who owes any al­le­giance to be­ing UmZulu, are lan­guish­ing some­where in the NFD, dic­ing with death.

I know that I am an eter­nal ro­man­tic and shed a tear now and then when I rem­i­nisce about the good ol’ days when Bucks, Wan­der­ers and AmaZulu used to fill sta­di­ums such as King Zwelithini, Princess Ma­gogo and even Kingsmead to ca­pac­ity, but I also know I am not the only one.

Some­times when I muse over th­ese clubs I get mixed feel­ings. One part of me says we as South Africans should do all we can to try and re­vive them and pre­vent them from be­com­ing ar­chaic.

But the other part gives up and says maybe it is time we stopped look­ing back and should gaze for­ward to see if peo­ple with en­ter­pris­ing minds can’t es­tab­lish even big­ger and bet­ter clubs.

It’s sad but maybe, just maybe, those of us who share such sen­ti­ments should learn to let go of the past.

It is dif­fi­cult though. As they say, nos­tal­gia has a ten­dency to give you that brief feel­ing of warmth you ex­pe­ri­ence when you wet your pants af­ter be­ing drenched by win­ter rain.

Or maybe we get caught in the lyrics of that Gla­dys Knight song that goes “bad as they are, th­ese will be the good old days for our chil­dren”.

I won­der.

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