Fan anger is justified but misplaced
Iwill never forget that fateful Sunday in 1996 when my brother and I navigated the 600km trip from Johannesburg to Durban.
We went to Kings Park Stadium – in a car with a faulty gearbox – to watch the second leg of the BP Top 8 final between our beloved Orlando Pirates and the QwaQwa Stars (not the Free State Stars).
The trip back in the rickety jalopy was made easier because the Buccaneers had won 3-0, after a 1-1 draw in the first round.
I also have memories from 2002 of myself, my brother and a friend driving alongside cars adorned with Pirates flags and stickers, hooting on the N1 highway back to Johannesburg, with fans hanging out of car windows.
You would never have guessed that Pirates had just lost 3-1 to Mamelodi Sundowns at Loftus Versfeld. But we had just watched a very enterprising young side that entertained us, even in defeat.
In July 2005, I defied a bout of flu to drive to Kings Park Stadium again for the Vodacom Challenge final, where Pirates saw off Kaizer Chiefs 2-1.
In 2013, I drove at breakneck speed with my son, nephew, a friend and our partners to witness Pirates lift the Nedbank Challenge Cup after beating Black Leopards 3-1 in Mpumalanga.
I can list many more examples of how I showed my support for the Bucs.
I have bunked school, escaped from work, lied to partners and turned down invitations, just to watch, cheer and support the Sea Robbers.
So I was just as disappointed as the fans at Loftus last Saturday, when Pirates were humbled 6-0 by Sundowns. In fact, like them, I was angry.
But I would not have invaded the pitch with them to attack the players and the technical staff. But I would have called for heads to roll at Pirates.
I couldn’t agree more with club boss Irvin Khoza – those fans are shameful. There is never an excuse for violence.
But the Iron Duke must understand violence is not only physical. For many seasons, Pirates management has visited emotional violence on supporters.
Coaches have found it difficult to do their work because of interference from scouts, assistants or club managers. For example, we have seen players imposed on coaches.
Also, over the past 10 seasons, Pirates have had 12 coaches. Many did not deserve to leave. For instance, Gordon Igesund delivered a league title to Pirates after seven years of drought, then left.
Kosta Papić departed even though I do not believe any coach before and after him – in the PSL era – has enjoyed the positive stats Pirates did.
The least said the better about the mysterious dismissal of Ruud Krol. No amount of spin will convince me he was not responsible for Pirates’ revival.
And then there was Eric Tinkler, who left after taking Pirates to a continental final and winning domestic silverware, as well as rejuvenating their style of play.
Khoza and his management team must take responsibility for eroding the brand and must accept that things must be done differently for the situation to improve.
As for the fans, they must face the full might of the law. But, equally, the owners must face the full anger of supporters.