League vets alive and kicking

2011-11-26 20:11

Orlando Pirates striker Benni McCarthy belongs to an exclusive club comprising a few players who featured in the maiden PSL season in 1996 and are still active 15 years down the line.

Others are: Arthur Bartman (Kaizer Chiefs); Calvin Marlin (Mamelodi Sundowns); Matthew Booth (Ajax Cape Town); Emille Baron; Stanton Fredericks (both Bidvest Wits); Francis Chansa (Maritzburg United); Glen Salmon (SuperSport United) and Alton Meiring (Jomo Cosmos).

Following the retirement of Sundowns’ goalkeeper Brian Baloyi last season, Bartman and Meiring are now the only two remaining players who have played in two different league structures – having broken into the professional ranks in the early 1990s in the days of the old National Soccer League.

McCarthy, who returned to the PSL this season after 14 years in Europe, said his passion for the game has never waned. He was in the colours of the now-defunct Cape Town Spurs before he left for Ajax Amsterdam in 1997.

The former Porto, Blackburn Rovers, Celta Vigo and West Ham United striker said: “I just enjoy what I am doing because I also get paid to play. So much has changed between my days at Spurs and now. The way of doing things has also changed, from players being paid in envelopes in the old days to now where you just punch in the digits and the money is available in the bank account.”

McCarthy said he earned R1 000 at Spurs but “it was still a lot” as he had just finished high school.

Another veteran – Meiring – who has been in the professional ranks since 1993, said hard work and dedication was the key to his long run.

“I am doing it for the love of the game. It is not about the money because if I was chasing money I would hate the game. Unlike these days, my generation was guided by senior players in the true sense of the word.

I was mentored by older and wiser players like Shaun Bartlett, David Modise and Mark Williams. The league is becoming stronger and better.”

Fredericks has attributed “clean living and a good balance in life” as the reason for his prolonged career.

“With the grace of God, I maintained a good balance between my lifestyle and career in all these years.

“The Wits of today is different to the one when we had players such as Rowan Malgue who worked and played soccer at the same time.”

At 34, defender David Kannemeyer – who debuted in the PSL in 1996 and won five league titles with different clubs – deserves a special mention as he is still going strong despite plying his trade in the National First Division with Mpumalanga Black Aces.

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