WHETHER Stanley Govender used his hands, feet or head, he dazzled on the
Only a few sportsmen have ever had the unique honour of playing first class cricket and professional football at the same time, and excelling.
Govender, now 60, was among those gifted few.
As a cricketer, he was one of the old Natal Cricket Board’s most capped players.
Playing football for Berea in the former Federation Professional League (FPL), Govender was in the thick of the action when his team, Berea, took on Sundowns in the 1976 Coca Cola Cup final.
Nearly 30000 football fans thronged at Curries Fountain on that occasion. The contest ended 3-3, with Govender scoring twice.
Berea won 6-3, in extra time, in the replay which is widely regarded to be among the most memorable matches ever played at the venue.
And he was a bullet of a sprinter on the athletics track. He once clocked a time of 10.8 during a 100m sprint, also at “Curries”, during his high school days.
Like so many talented sportsmen who were in their prime during the 1970s and 80s, Govender was born at the wrong time.
Govender believes he could have achieved so much more had he received the right nurturing from a young age.
After briefly watching the 16-year-old Govender play a few cricket shots during a training session in 1973, West Indian cricket coach Keith Barker was bowled over.
Barker was convinced
Govender had the potential to play international cricket and suggested a move to England to further his ability.
After all, everything Govender knew about cricket, he learnt through reading books.
Barker had so much confidence in Govender’s ability that he even arranged for a sponsor to pay for his relocation.
But Govender’s conservative upbringing stumped that drive.
His mother, in particular, was unmoved. She asked him to focus on his education.
He excelled at that too. All through his years of schooling, Govender, of Bayview in Chatsworth, was an outstanding pupil, but it was his ability on the sports field that set him apart.
At the age of 13 he was already playing senior cricket for Chatsworth United Cricket Club and at around the same time he broke into the Natal Schools Under 13 team.
That sparked his long association with Natal cricket teams thereafter.
He made the Natal Men’s “B” side in his Grade 11 (Standard 9) year. When he eventually got into the Natal “A” team, Govender made it an occasion to remember by scoring a quick-fire 50 against Transvaal at Tills Crescent in Overport.
Govender was 19 on debut and eventually went on to achieve 51 First Class caps with Natal until he bowed out in 1991. What made that achievement remarkable was that the old SA Cricket Board had only four affiliates (Natal, Transvaal, Eastern and Western Province) playing in their top league, which usually amounted to six roundrobin fixtures per season.
Apart from scoring bags of runs for his province, including many fifties, he also had lengthy spells as the team’s vice-captain and captain.
Cricket was always his first love. When he had to choose between playing cricket and continuing with Berea in the 1980s, he chose the former and never regretted his choice.
Govender was born in Kings Rest on the Bluff and said he had a vague memory of life back then.
But he does remember his family’s tin house that sat on stilts near “West”, a well-known fishing spot in the area.
His family lived communally with his father Annamalai’s four brothers and their families.
“We had food on our doorstep,” said Govender, referring to the abundance of crabs and fish that they had access to.
“My uncles were good fishermen and my older brothers (Sam, Krish and Raymond) were good swimmers,” he said.
His family was relocated to Chatsworth when he was 4.
As fate would have it, behind his family’s two- bedroomed council home on Liberty Street in Bayview was the local sports field.
He spent many hours honing his sporting skills there and it was also the venue where he made some telling contributions with the bat, mostly for Chatsworth United.
Govender has great admiration for the stalwarts of Chatsworth cricket, people like John Pillay, Muthoo Pillay, Krish Govender, DM Shaik and Willy Soupen.
“Krish and Soupen were the main leaders of Chatsworth United.
“Cricket was in their blood, they and other administrators often paid from their own pockets to make cricket possible for us,” Govender remembered.
He said Chatsworth players were regarded as “minnows” when he started playing the game and he was determined to change that perception.
The successes of Chatsworth United, especially in the 1970s and 80s in competitions like the Natal Cup and the Super League, put a new spin how Chatsworth cricketers were viewed.
Govender’s brothers were also competent cricketers. When he, together with his brothers Krish, Raymond and Elvis, represented Natal in a first class match at the same time in the early 80s, their rare achievement was recorded in the annals of South African cricket.
Another institution close to Govender’s heart was Chatsworth High.
After completing Grade 8 (Standard 6) at Glenover High in Westcliff, he moved to Chatsworth the next year because the school’s principal was sport-minded, much to Govender’s liking.
Govender was already in the Natal cricket team, he was an outstanding footballer and never lost sprint races in school days.
So it was not surprising that Govender, who was required to wear his green Natal blazer to school, had the respect and appreciation of his peers.
Renowned football manager Dona Mudaly drew Govender to Berea when he was 18, but not before Manning Rangers and their captain, Sugar Singh, made a bid.
Govender joined Berea when players like Daya Maistry, Pat Blair, Dudu Moonsamy and Charles Carey were household names.
Having joined after the season was already in progress, Govender, playing as a striker, netted on 14 occasions but was pipped to the FPL’S goal scoring award by Nevilled Londt, who bagged 16 goals.
“Life was great when I was with Berea. They had wonderful directors who treated the players well.
“I remember the maroon blazers we wore to after-match functions. Our favourite hangouts were Moon Hotel in Clairwood and Chatsworth’s Savera Hotel.
Govender believes the best goal he ever scored came in the 1976 Coca Cola Cup final against Sundowns.
“We were 0-2 down when Dudu Moonsamy crossed the ball, which I gathered and shot with my left foot from outside the penalty area. The ball flew into the top left corner.
“I picked up a groin strain in that match and started in the replay, in spite of my injury. I was replaced by Scampy Bissessor with 18 minutes to go. We were three goals down at the time and eventually won 6-3 in extra time.”
Govender said his best years with Berea were when former Bafana Bafana coach Clive Barker was with the team.
He left Berea in 1981 with no regrets because it was becoming too much of a challenge to juggle cricket and football.
A year earlier, he had met his wife, Sushie, who lived in Asherville. Sushie’s cousins were his neighbours in Chatsworth.
“She is a splendid woman and I’m very lucky she gave me the opportunity to pursue my sporting interests.”
Govender is a long-serving employee in Durban University of Technology’s sports department. He’s also had a long spell as a selector with the Dolphins cricket team and managed the KZN Amateur cricket team for a season.
He’s looking forward to retirement, more travels with Sushie and spending more time with family, especially his granddaughter, Alexyss Hannah. Name: Dhanaseelan “Stanley” Govender. Born: 6 July, 1952 in Kings Rest, Bluff. Father: Annamalai, who worked for a petroleum company, Shell Oil.
Mother: Tholaysamma, a housewife. Siblings: Sam, Krish, Raymond, Elvis and sister Mully.
Children: Stanton and Daryll, granddaughter Alexyss.
Primary Schools: Fairhaven and Depot Road.
High Schools: Glenover and Chatsworth High.
Tertiary: BA Physical Education at UDW. Did not complete course. Hobbies: Squash relaxes me. I feel good after a game
Favourite TV shows: Comedies on Dstv’s Channel 122.
Favourite music: Old school 1970’s and 80’s music by the Bee Gees, Beatles and Dire Straits.
Favourite book: Not an avid book reader but loves newspapers.
Favourite meal: Any seafood meal. Favourite holiday destination: PE, the beachfront is great.
Favourite sporting personality: The SA7’S player, Seabelo Senatla.
Favourite sporting team: The SA 7’s rugby team. I watch all their games.they play hard but they are sporting afterwards.
Best gift: My grandchild Alexyss. She is my life.
Dislikes: Current administration of cricket and rugby in the country. I don’t think these codes are transformed enough. Backstabbing and mudslinging is common, many administrators have forgotten their roots. Most difficult opponent: Once I played in the right back position for Berea. Charlie Sobben of Verulam Suburbs ran rings around me.at half-time I asked to be substituted. The venue I enjoyed playing at the most: Cricket – Lenasia Stadium, Joburg. Football – Currie’s Fountain.
Favourite Jersey Number: 4.
The Govender brothers: Raymond, Sam and Krish (back); Elvis and Stanley (front).