ED’S LET­TER

Kick Off - - INSIDE - KICK OFF Ed­i­tor Twit­ter: @Sbu_Mjike­liso In­sta­gram: @dap­per_ed­i­tor

I’ ve al­ways found that the Or­lando Pirates nar­ra­tive is the most com­pelling when it comes to South African foot­ball. I wasn’t old enough to wit­ness Moroka Swal­lows and many other grand­daddy clubs at their zenith. But the story of Or­lando Pirates is one that is as fas­ci­nat­ing as any you will read about Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manch­ester United or Ju­ven­tus. It’s one that has mir­rored South Africa’s past cen­tury, through the painful years of racial seg­re­ga­tion, to the re­bel­lious 70’s and 80’s and even­tu­ally to unity. It’s also per­haps why KICK OFF edi­tors tend to have vary­ing de­grees of fas­ci­na­tion with the sub­ject that is “Ezika­m­aghe­bula”. One of the things that re­cently caught my at­ten­tion – af­ter months spent try­ing to breathe life into their 80th An­niver­sary – has been Pirates’ awk­ward re­la­tion­ship with its prodi­gal sons.

Of course, Rhu­lani Mok­wena’s sud­den

floor-cross­ing an­nounce­ment from Mamelodi Sundowns brought this to my at­ten­tion. Mok­wena is the fourth gen­er­a­tion Sono to find him­self in­side the Buc­ca­neers locker room. He fol­lows grand­dad Eric, un­cle Jomo and his fa­ther Julius “KK” Sono (see page 64). In the March 2017 is­sue, Mok­wena told KICK OFF that one of his ear­li­est mem­o­ries was be­ing in the Bucs change-room, dur­ing the time his dad played for The Sea Rob­bers. It had a pro­found ef­fect be­cause the sound of the chalk, squeak­ing against the green board and the me­chan­i­cal sound of tac­tics and strat­egy is what in­spired him to take up coach­ing. The twist is (and there’s al­ways a twist with Pirates) that his fa­ther waged some­thing of a war for the own­er­ship of Or­lando Pirates against chair­man Irvin Khoza. The “Iron Duke” said, af­ter Julius’ last at­tempt, that Julius “needed men­tal help”. Fast-for­ward two years and Julius’ son could, in the shadow of Mi­lutin “Mi­cho” Sre­do­je­vic, mas­ter­mind Bucs’ re­vival. You kind of won­der whether the Pirates ques­tion ever gets broached in the Sono house­hold at Christ­mas. But then again it wouldn’t be the first time that Pirates’ most cel­e­brated for­mer play­ers have had to deal with some awk­ward­ness from the mother club. For one, the P-word is prob­a­bly not men­tioned in the Mo­taung house­hold at the din­ner ta­ble. Te­boho Moloi, for­mer Bucs mid­fielder and son of the late Pirates great Percy Moloi, went from be­ing the dugout doyen to a pariah for un­known rea­sons. Awk­ward.

In an in­ter­view with Robert Marawa, af­ter

his corona­tion as Dr Sono, Jomo told of an in­ci­dent that took place back in the day when he was get­ting Jomo Cos­mos off the ground. Ac­cord­ing to Jomo, some of the then Pirates administrators made snide com­ments about him in the loo, un­aware that he was in the vicin­ity and could hear ev­ery word they said. Jomo told ra­dio lis­ten­ers that he barged into the chang­ing room and told his play­ers to (and I’m para­phras­ing here) “Kick Pirates’ @#$&#!” Pirates needed vic­tory that day to win the league and, need­less to say, they didn’t get a crumb from Cos­mos. Any­way, it ap­pears that some of the en­mity has dissolved over time. In the same in­ter­view, Jomo men­tioned the rev­er­ence he shares with cur­rent boss Dr Khoza. And with Mok­wena as as­sis­tant coach, some old, much-needed Pirates soul will be in­jected back into the dugout. I can al­ready pic­ture it: Pirates, a goal down to rel­e­ga­tion strug­glers Amazulu, with “Mi­cho” be­ing sick of feed­ing the same un­heard mes­sage to play­ers, af­ter a string of losses, he hands the team-talk over to Mok­wena. Mok­wena, with that am­bigu­ous scowl that is nei­ther threat­en­ing nor wel­com­ing, turns to the play­ers and says, sternly: “My fa­ther played for this club! You will not dis­re­spect the badge like you did in that first half! You will clean up your act and play like proper Buc­ca­neers!” He drops the chalk and storms out and Pirates win by five. At least that’s how it plays out in my mind. Let’s see what re­al­ity will bring.

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