Fan anger is jus­ti­fied but mis­placed

CityPress - - Sport - Rams Mabote Mabote is a busi­ness­man, ra­dio pre­sen­ter and a diehard Or­lando Pi­rates fan. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @rams­bythe­horns

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.

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