Fathers and sons should think twice before joining forces in sports

2014-02-15 00:00

IT can be difficult to keep track of what goes on in the PSL sometimes.

Coaches, clubs and players are engaged in a never-ending game of musical chairs, and there is no telling what is possible and what is not any more.

Just yesterday former Kaizer Chiefs boss Vladimir Vermezovic was unveiled as the new manager at Orlando Pirates — a development that would have had Chiefs fans seething during the Serb’s tenure at the club between 2009 and 2012 had they been aware of what the future would bring.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the romances of Ernst Middendorp and Ian Palmer with Maritzburg United have seen both managers break up with the club only to return at a later date, and the same is true of Manqoba Mngqithi at Golden Arrows.

It seems that when a manager leaves a club these days, there is always the chance that he will return. It has much to do with the lack of coaches in this country with PSL experience.

But then you get a case like outgoing Arrows boss Mark Harrison, who will find it extremely difficult to land another PSL club any time soon.

Harrison’s reign at Arrows simply never got off the ground. Of his 10 matches in charge, he lost eight. The frustration of the fans boiled over on December 16, South Africa’s Day of Reconciliation, at King Zwelithini after another loss (3-0 to AmaZulu) when a mob waited for him outside the stadium to tell him where to get off.

On a day that celebrates South Africa’s ability to forgive, Arrows fans could not reconcile the fact that Harrison had given a debut to his son Ryan Harrison in goal — and matters were made worse by the questionable performance that he delivered. Ryan Harrison would remain a permanent fixture in the side up until his father’s sacking. Mark may be gone, but Ryan remains on the Arrows books for now, though he is likely to play second fiddle to the seasoned Arthur Bartman for the rest of the campaign.

In Mark’s defence, he is not the first sports boss to give a son or relative a crack at the highest level. Even Sir Alex Ferguson did it. His son Darren Ferguson came through the youth ranks at United and made his debut in 1990. With a striking crisis at the club in the new Premier League’s first season in 1992/93, Darren was actually a prominent fixture in United’s starting line-up and has a Premier League winner’s medal to his name as a result. But Fergie flogged his son to Wolves a season later.

Locally, Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund had his son Grant with him at Manning Rangers, who he used intelligently and sparingly, often as a substitute. Chiefs boss Kaizer Motaung’s son Kaizer Motaung Junior retired from football this season after a long and fruitful career at the club. Though Motaung Junior has won trophies aplenty, he will never go down as a great at Amakhosi.

Bamuza Sono, son of former Bafana coach Jomo Sono, has also enjoyed a playing career at Jomo Cosmos — his father’s club — since 1999. Outside of football, one needs to look no further than Cheeky and Luke Watson’s success at the Kings during the Super Rugby year when Luke was made captain.

There will always be accusations of nepotism in such instances, and history tells us that they will more often than not be justified.

If Ryan is as good as his dad says he is, then why were no other PSL clubs looking for his signature?

It will always be difficult for these players to move out of the shadow of controversy surrounding their selections. The only way to do it is through good performances.

Unfortunately for Mark Harrison, such performances were few and far between, and hiring his son proved to be more troublesome than anything else as the club’s already sceptical supporters were pushed a step too far.

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