Pressing Issues: Bafana may once again be ‘like lambs to the slaughter’

2014-03-02 10:00

Close to 20 years down the line, Clive Barker still greets me by saying “like lambs to the slaughter”.

This was a headline to one of the stories I penned as a preview of a Bafana match in 1995 when Barker was coach.

I can’t even remember whether they were slain in that game or not.

My mind is also a bit foggy on what my response was when he confronted me at the time.

Chances are I sold him that feeble and tired line from junior reporters that I was not to blame, instead it was the subeditor who had come with that headline.

You see, subeditors are those hidden characters in journalism who do their jobs quietly behind the scenes.

Former newspaper editor Thabo Leshilo referred to them as “a special breed of person”, saying they were “supermen and women who need to have inexhaustible patience to put up with the thankless job of cleaning the mess left by sloppy reporters – sometimes long after the latter has gone home and switched off their cellphones”.

Erstwhile colleague George Starita, in a satirical piece before departing from City Press, wrote: “Behind the scenes at every newspaper and printed publication, unknown to readers, are the subeditors. They’re not deputy editors, as some think: they’re wordsmiths, working at correcting – and mutilating, in the words of journalists – what others have tried to write.”

So, where would newspapers be without dear subeditors? Doomed!

But to date, they’re still used as scapegoats simply because not too many people know them or about them.

But I digress.?I revisited Barker’s anecdote because I have nuggets of wisdom to share with incumbent Bafana coach Gordon Igesund.

(As a matter of coincidence – a concept to which the mafia doesn’t subscribe –?Igesund and Barker are my homeboys. I couldn’t resist this chance at name-dropping #HeSaysChuckling.)

And this is not meant to get dear Igesund and his charges quivering in their fancy boots.

I couldn’t help but observe that the team of 19 players announced by Brazil for Wednesday night’s friendly match have 16 European-based players and only three who play locally (goalkeeper Jefferson, Fred and Jô).

The three are no slouches, either. In fact, no Brazilian player can be dubbed a slouch.

Well, Igesund’s team also boasts – please note I am using the word ‘boasts’ guardedly – 10 European-based players.

But the question is: which clubs do they play for?

While perusing the Brazilian line-up, one sees clubs such as Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain – all who are in the Champions League.

Igesund’s overseas brigade is supplied by the likes of Ajax Amsterdam (Champions League, I hear you say), Doncaster Rovers (I’m sure you’ve heard of them), FC Rostov, Racing Genk, Crystal Palace, Lech Poznan, KV Oostende, Lokeren FC and Bournemouth FC.

I’m not sure whether such names will send cold shivers down the spines of Luiz Felipe Scolari and his charges such as Neymar, Dani Alves, Fernandinho, Marcelo, Ramires, Willian, David Luiz, Rafinha and Paulinho.

To quote a line from Scottish actor Sean Connery when he played the character of Jim Malone in the movie The Untouchables and asked Frank Nitti (played by Billy Drago): “What kind of a fool brings a knife to a gunfight?”

It does indeed seem like a matter of bringing a knife to a gunfight and as the clever subeditor – who I suspect my have been the witty Cyril McAravey – put it: “Like lambs to the slaughter.”

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.