Our sporting history must never be buried

2015-04-11 00:00

RESPONSES to my column last week, convinced me of two things.

One: that we are still very divided as a South African society.

Two: that we need proper recording of our sporting history.

In response to my suggestion that a national stadium should be named after Steven “Kalamazoo” Mokone who recently passed away, Ron Howse asked: How about Les Salton Stadium, Bobby Chalmers or Freddie Kalk Stadium?

Andre van Rensburg suggested that a stadium should be named after Clive Barker, while Themba wase Kasi felt that Jomo Sono was more deserving, and Mageba thought Patrick “Ace” Ntsoelengoe deserved to have a venue named after him.

Not to say these suggestions were wrong, but it shows that we are still a divided society long after the death of apartheid that made South Africans play sport at different venues and along colour lines.

I was not surprised to find that some didn’t even know who Kalamazoo was. This is to be expected due to the Colour Bar background as well as the generational gap.

I will not be surprised if somebody responded to Ron’s suggestion by asking, Les who?

Which I find sad, but understandable. To the uninitiated, Les Salton was a star goal-poacher in the days of the all-white National Football League where he starred for Durban City.

A goalscorer of note, Salton played for City from 1959 to 1961, making 72 appearances and scoring 109 goals. He won the coveted South African Player of the Year award in 1961.

Bobby Chalmers was also a forward with the same Norman Elliot-led City between the years of 1962 and 1966. A period in which he made 123 appearances, finding the back of the net 106 times. He also won the SA Player of the Year award in 1964.

Anyone who knows the great side Highlands Park, would know who Freddie Kalk was.

So good was Kalk that some journalists even referred to him as the best player South Africa has ever produced. He impressed so much in international friendly matches against the like of Real Madrid, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur that they all wanted to sign him, but the player chose to remain in South Africa.

He won the Player of the Year in 1965, a season in which he bagged 57 goals and played his last match for Highlands Park in 1973, scoring the only goal — his 250th for the club — in a 1-0 victory over Florida Albion in the Castle Cup final at Rand Stadium.

Many in the black community know Clive Barker as the man who won the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations with Bafana Bafana. Others know him as the coach who won the Coca Cola Cup with AmaZulu in 1992.

But I am prepared to bet my last rand — for whatever it’s worth — that very few know that Barker actually made his name as a player with Durban City. This is where he gained the nickname “The Dog”.

Chances are that very few in the white community are familiar with the conquests of Jomo Sono both here and in the North American Soccer League (NASL) where he won several awards.

The abovementioned players are only but a few of the great stars this country has produced.

I have only mentioned black and white players, I haven’t even started with Indian players in the mould of Dharam Mohan, Goona Padayachie, Sullie Bhamjee or coloured players such as Bernard “Dancing Shoes” Hartze, Rodney Charles and Calvin Petersen, to mention just a handful.

What this shows, is that we do need a proper collection and recording of our separated past so that we can be a fully united nation — or the Rainbow Nation that Madiba dreamt of.

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa’s leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

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