Premier league hockey was a mockery

2009-05-27 00:00

SUNDAY was a sad day for KZN Inland hockey.

The powerful Maritzburg Varsity first team obliterated a terribly unfit, under-prepared PMB Collegians side completely out of their depth for a so-called “Premier” league match that made a mockery of its top-of-the-table billing.

Without even sharpening their scalpels, Varsity carved Collegians up, their long-time rivals at an utter loss as to how to counter a team that is arguably the best club side in the country. The score? It was such an ugly sight, who really cares? But for those masochists out there, Varsity had gorged themselves on 14 goals without reply when I left in total despair, although it was so unappetising it was easy to lose count.

Those who remember how it used to be here in the KZN capital city — 500 spectators (and counting) for those classic PMB Collegians/Durban Tech clashes in the late seventies and eighties, not to mention the legendary Varsity/Collegians local derbies, will have turned away as I did, in disgust and disillusionment at how low the game has sunk at club level in Pietermaritzburg. There were around 80 people on and off during this formerly legendary match-up — and many were more interested in chatting to friends than watching.

One breathed a sigh of relief that some of those respected PMB hockey players of the past — Brian Edwards, Graham and Dave Turnbull, Mike Bechet, Jon Harley, Lynton Freese, Keith and Kelly Fairweather, Des Mayne and Andrew Brown, to name a few — were not present.

They would have choked on their beers in disbelief — no wonder the former players hardly ever watch club hockey anymore.

But the on-field massacre was not quite as unpalatable as the shambles around me. No one manning the technical table other than a schoolboy doing his homework and the match started 15 minutes late. No team sheets; electronic scoreboard blank when it worked just fine the day before; eight or nine “Premier” league players without either the correct shirts, shorts or socks — one or two with none of the above. Players without the correct kit would not be allowed go on to the field in an equivalent league — KZN Premier Division club rugby. But then, that league has pride.

The grass surrounding this beautiful AB Jackson Greenfields Turf facility not even cut — two feet deep in places and badly hacked in others. And last, but not least, no confirmation of results, goalscorers and match sheets sent to The Witness hockey writer on Monday — as is the arranged procedure.

But really, what does it matter how many goals were scored by the various Varsity players? They aren’t worth the paper they weren’t written on.

Yet in spite of this total disregard for supporters and the press, the KZN Inland Hockey Association also had the cheek to insist on a fee at the gate. The modest sum is not the point, it’s the principle that matters — and for goodness’ sake, even the refreshment kiosk was closed.

Whoever is responsible for this pathetic state of affairs should be reprimanded in the most severe manner by the KZN Inland Hockey Association.

And please don’t just talk about it — do something. This debacle must never, ever, be allowed to happen again.

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