The iconic James family

2015-06-24 06:00

WAY, way back in the late 1800s, the old Wild West had a gang of outlaws, Jesse and Frank James, who terrorised many of the states of America, and their notoriety spread to all corners of the globe.

They were bad hombres who robbed the rich and gave to the poor, shot and killed and robbed banks with gay abandon.

But, back in South Africa, PMB to be exact, there is a James family who by now would have captured the hearts of all sports lovers - father Michael and sons Butch and Elton. All have represented South Africa, but in three different sporting codes.

Michael and his two sons Butch and Elton are probably the only family in sporting history to have achieved this. Michael was a footballer with an abundance of talent. His career began with Maritzburg Football Club and he was in the winning Castle Cup side that defeated Cape Town City.

He had spells with Durban United, Hellenic and Wits, and captained South Africa in a number of internationals in the old NFL days. A broken leg at Wits virtually put paid to his career. He was often referred to on the football fields as Jesse.

Butch, a product of Maritzburg College, made his provincial debut with the Natal Sharks at flyhalf. His bone-crunching tackles, his reading of the game and his lethal boot, soon saw him earn 43 Springbok caps. Like father Mike, injuries cut short his superb career. Now a proud father of a son aptly named Jesse, what are the chances that young Jesse lives up to his name and continues with the James’s sporting prowess?

Elton, a fine sporting all-rounder, followed in the footsteps of his father and brother but his success has been achieved on the golf links. He finished second in the recent SA mid-amateur at the Victoria Country Club and has earned a place in the four-man SA team to take part in a tournament in France as well as a Test against the French later this month.

Grandparents Nibs and Marie must be looking down from above with pride and joy. The James family members have become icons on the SA sporting scene, and jolly good luck to them all.

MIKE BRADBURY

Pelham

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