Maybe we should let go of time-worn football clubs
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”.