Ripping out a legacy

2014-11-04 00:00

THE Berea Rovers Club’s future looks bleak, with a new football academy set to take its place near Kings Park, despite the impressive history of Durban’s oldest club.

With rugby, cricket, hockey and squash the official sports offered by the club, their beginnings in Durban more than 125 years ago are worth noting.

From humble beginnings on a Durban cricket field in 1885, Berea Rovers was unofficially born and originally called Queens Park — only becoming the Berea Cricket Club in 1920, two years after the First World War ended.

The club’s rugby roots began with the formation of the Durban Rugby Club in 1899, while the Rovers Rugby Club was formed seven years later in 1906. The two teams battled it out with a number of others from Durban and Pietermaritzburg in the Wylie Cup, Dewar Shield and Murray Cup tournaments.

After World War 1, the two clubs merged to become Durban Rovers as a result of the number of players who had lost their lives during the war. The club continued to play up until the Second World War.

In 1939 the Berea Cricket Club and the Durban Rovers Rugby Football Club were amalgamated — due to the War once again — and Berea Rovers Club was officially born.

The rugby side is currently known as College Rovers, due its amalgamation with the Maritzburg College Old Boys Association in the 1990s, although there is a healthy representation of players from schools around the country and the world.

Hockey came on to the scene in 1925 when the Nomads Hockey Club was formed. Although hockey was played between teams in Pietermaritzburg and Durban from 1904, an official league was only formed in 1925 and the members of Nomads had a big part to play in getting it up and running.

It would be another 26 years before Nomads agreed to join the Berea Rovers Club and in 1946 hockey, rugby and cricket fell under a single banner and provincial representatives from all three codes continued rising.

Squash came to the fore in the 1950s and current club president Dave Henry credits Hilton and Michaelhouse in setting up a thriving squash environment.

With such an impressive history, it is no surprise Berea Rovers have produced many provincial and national representatives across its sporting codes.

On the rugby field, Rovers have produced more than 100 Natal rugby players and 36 Springboks over the years as well as two Bok captains in the form of Gary Teichmann and the late Roy Dryburgh.

They have also produced Springbok coaches Dr. Cecil Moss and Ian McIntosh.

There have been numerous provincial and national hockey players produced by Rovers, while the cricket front has produced some of the greatest Proteas — Roy McLean, Ian Smith, Billy Wade, Kim Elgie and Mike Procter to name a few.

The current Berea Rovers clubhouse has been standing for 38 years and has more than 700 active members.

Clifton Durban also uses the cricket and squash facilities during the week.

With this in mind, Henry believes the club still has an important role in producing quality sportsmen and women.

“We have an open-door policy here. Anybody who wants to play cricket, rugby, hockey and squash are more than welcome to join the club,” he said.

The fate of the clubhouse was sealed after Hoy Park management were last week awarded a 30-year lease to develop a multi-million-rand centre consisting of residences, fields, gyms and training facilities.

The current clubhouse has been unable to renew their lease beyond a month-to-month basis since it expired in 2006.

The South African Institute of Marine Engineers and Naval Architects as well as the Mountain Club of South Africa call the current clubhouse home and the former were responsible for its construction in 1976.

eThekwini Municipality were unable to confirm when the club would have to relocate at the time of going to print.

• Statistics and facts taken from The Berea Rovers Story written by Harry Barn.

We have an open- door policy here. Anybody who wants to play cricket, rugby, hockey and squash are more than welcome to join the club.

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