City loses football legends

2010-07-16 00:00

NATROON Soobramoney (78) and Teddy Jamalodeen (79), two of the last surviving members of an illustrious band of South African Indian footballers who achieved fame in the historic inter-race series in the 1950s, died in Pietermaritzburg last week.

Soobramoney and Jamalodeen belonged to a period of Indian football history that featured some of the greatest Indian footballers of all time — famous men like Billy Reddy, Links Padayachee, Bob Pillay, James Oliver, V.C. Moodley, K. ‘Matambo’ Mariemutthoo, K. Rajagopal, Thiri Rampath, and Dharam Mohan.

Jamaloodeen, who came from Newcastle and made his home in the city, featured in matches of the Maritzburg Indian Football Association in representative games, later representing the Northern Natal side that played against Southern Natal in several inter-zonal competitions.

It was almost at the end of the era of racial football in the late 50s that they were rewarded with a call-up to represent Northern Natal in the Sam China Cup series in 1957, the first time that the SA Indian Football Association (Saifa) decided Natal was powerful enough to field two teams in the competition.

The first outing in 1957 was partly successful, but the second in 1959 was sensational when Northern Natal thumped favourites Southern Natal in the finals to win the cup on the last occasion the competition was staged.

Both Soobramoney and Jamalodeen featured prominently in the Natal Inter-Race series between Indians, Africans and coloureds between 1949 and 1958.

Soobramoney was a Durbanite, but moved to Pietermaritzburg, where he died last week.

He was the youngest player ever to play in a provincial tournament, adding two hat-tricks when he played in the Sam China Cup, against Northern Natal and Transvaal, in 1955.

Professional football was launched under the banner of the SA Soccer League affiliated to the SA Soccer Federation in 1961 with two local sides, Maritzburg City and Lincoln City.

Jamaloodeen turned out for Maritzburg City before hanging up his boots for good.

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