Friday, 24 August 2012

Gay Alison Erskine

It was in the early 1950s that farmer Jack decided to build a squash-court on his Headlands property to give his five children something to do when the weather was too bad for them to go riding. But so avidly did the kids take to the new sport that father was forced to listen to the incessant thud of the ball against the walls of the court. The horses were not ridden for weeks on end.

And so, from this humble concrete-floor court on a farmstead, emerged Rhodesia's most famous squash family — the Warburtons.

David, Deirdre, Gay, Jill and Beverley were all destined to become champions and so, too, was father Jack. But when the remarkable Warburton success story is told, it is always Gay (who was to marry another squash champion, Nicol Erskine) who is given pride of place.

In the country's boom sport of the 70s, Gay Erskine is deservedly recognised as its most outstanding personality — male or female. In fact, if a poll was taken to name the most outstanding sportswoman in the nation's history, she would probably emerge top.

In cold statistics, her squash record is highly impressive. She was twelve times Rhodesian champion between 1963 and 1977; fourteen times Mashonaland champion between 1959 and 1975; South African champion three times (1965, 1966.1968) and a Springbok in five different years (1963,1968,1973,1975 and 1976), covering more than a dozen Test appearances.

At the peak of her career among the world's top ten players, Gay was honoured with the Springbok captaincy in four of her five years — only the fourth Rhodesian to lead a South African Test team in a major sport, following Margot Boileau (who led the unbeaten Springbok hockey team to the world tournament at Sydney in 1956), C. V. Irvine (hockey) and Des van Jaarsveldt (rugby).

To cap her achievements. Gay Erskine was named Rhodesia's Sportsman of the Year for 1973, receiving the handsome John Hopley Memorial Trophy on the night of 2 November at a glittering banquet in the Old Meikles dining-room at Salisbury. A distinguished gathering of over 200 people gave her a standing ovation when guest of honour, Dr. Danie Craven, the president of the South African Rugby Board, presented the trophy.

"Thank you for giving me this great moment;' stammered Gay. "I am very lucky to have been chosen from such a wealth of sporting talent."

She had been given the vote ahead of four male sportsmen — George Harvey (golf), Ian Robertson (rugby), Steve Sherren (squash) and Allan Peake (hockey) and richly deserved the accolade as the country's supreme sports star after being a finalist for the award in 1967 and 1968.

Gay Alison Erskine was born on 27 November 1943, at Rusape. She began playing squash at the age of nine in that farmstead court and was to rise to become Rhodesia's greatest player by dominating the sport for fifteen years. She attended Salisbury Convent High School and went on to become a qualified Chartered Accountant.

Deirdre (Thomson) holds the distinction of winning the Warburton family's first women's national squash title in 1959, with fifteen-year-old Gay the runner- up. There were no national tournaments from 1960-62 but Gay came to the forefront in 1963 with her first title. She was to win it for four years in succession before being beaten in the 1967 final... by her sister Jill (Ogilvie).

Even to finish runner-up that year was a remarkable feat, for Gay had given birth to her first child just two months before the final. Gay was champion again in 1968 but the next year could not enter because she was pregnant with her second child, leaving the title again to her sister Jill. Back came Gay to reclaim her rightful crown in 1970 and 1971 before the advent of her third child put her out of the 1972 championship.

The champion that year was Ann Papenfus, who thus broke a ten-year stranglehold on the coveted title by the Warburton family.

But Gay's name was not off the Frank Barbour Cup for long and she swept to victory in the next five years (1973-77) before emigrating to Australia in 1978 with her husband Nic and her three children, to give other lesser mortals a chance of the glory. It was Sue Paton, also a Springbok, who took the title in 1978 before herself leaving the country as a once-only champion.

Gay Erskine's first Springbok colours came in 1963 when South Africa lost all three Tests to England. But Southern African standards improved rapidly and after the South African championships at Port Elizabeth in July 1967, Gay was named Springbok captain for the first time in the team to tour Britain early the following year. Her colleagues were D. Holton (Northern Transvaal), E. Allnut (Eastern Province), J. Eckstein (Western Province) and C. Van Veen, with Warburton sister Jill, the reserve.

In that 1967 South African championship, Gay — the champion in 1965 and 1966 — surrendered her title to Jill Eckstein, who won 2-9, 9-0, 9-7, 9-2. The sporting Rhodesian would make no excuses for the fact that she was not up to peak fitness for her hat-trick bid. But just four months previously she had become a mother for the first time and this, naturally, greatly disrupted her training and it was to her great credit that she managed to reach the final.

However, earlier in the week she had beaten Eckstein 3-1 when Rhodesia met Western Province in an inter-provincial match, but by the time of the South African individual final, a full week of top-class squash, with two matches a day, had drained Gay and left her too weak for a fight back in the final against a teenager with superior stamina.

The Springbok captaincy was the highpoint of her career and the team flew to Britain in January 1968 to make history in more ways than one. Not only was Gay the first Rhodesian to lead a Springbok squash team, but it was also the first South African national squash team to travel outside the country. This time the Boks were more successful, beating Wales, Scotland, Canada and America and losing to England.

That was unquestionably her golden year. In June she won the Rhodesian title for the eighth time, and the following month led Rhodesia to conclusive victory in the South African inter-provincials at Port Elizabeth. Not only did the team win the Kaplan Cup for the second successive year, but they collected maximum points for the first time in the history of the tournament.

Gay's victory over the brilliant Kathy Malan was the biggest upset of the week and an inspiration to her team, but in the South African individual championship a few days later, Malan gained her revenge in the semifinals. The week ended with a match between Rhodesia and a visiting British team and Gay was the only Rhodesian to win, upsetting the English number one, Jane Barham.

Then came the Springbok-Britain Tests, with Gay capping her momentous year by winning the Mashonaland title for the twelfth time and finally being acclaimed Sportsman of the Year.

This was the first time this award had gone to a squash player, underlining the tremendous growth in popularity and standards in the sport. From 1970-73, for instance, over 100 squash-courts were erected in Rhodesia as the sport boomed, culminating in the building at Salisbury Sports Club of the world's biggest spectator glass-backed court, capable of holding an audience of 500.

Squash, too, was one sport which was able to beat off the strangling effects of isolation caused by the country's Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965, and for several years the world's best men's players were seen at the Salisbury UDC court, always headed by world champion Geoff Hunt.

Despite sanctions, Gay Erskine continued to be a Springbok, and after captaining Rhodesia to success in the Kaplan Cup at East London and winning the Champion of Champions tournament at Johannesburg, she was again named South Africa's captain for the home Tests against New Zealand in 1975, which were won 3-0.

Playing at number three, Gay and Robin Davies were locked at 2-2 in games in the first Test. The Kiwi jumped to a 7-0 lead in the final fifth game, but Gay rallied magnificently to win 9-7. In the second Test Gay beat Davis 0-9,9-0,4-9,9-6,9-0.

Gay's final selection for the Springboks was for a six-week trip to Australia in 1976 when she was again the captain and her team-mates were V. Bridgens, K. Hardy, J. Eckstein and Rhodesia's Sue Paton, the Test reserve and winner of the world plate event.

Gay Erskine was a member of the Rhodesian team which won the South African inter-provincial Kaplan Cup on its inception in 1961 and again in 1962, 1967, 1968, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976 and in her last year 1978.

In May 1976 she was beaten for the first time in the final of the Mashonaland championships when Ann Papenfus became champion. Gay, who had always played in the men's first league, had been triumphant in every one of the fourteen years she had played in this tournament before losing to Papenfus and then finishing runner-up again the next year to Sue Paton.

Gay's three sisters and her brother all gained Rhodesian colours and their record is likewise impressive. Dave was Mashonaland champion twelve times between 1960 and 1975 and three times Rhodesian champion (1961, 1963, 1974), the first two occasions being when he beat Chris Andersen in the final. He has also been runner-up seven times for the national title, with Ian Dowdeswell, Steve Sherren and Tommy Tarr denying him victories.

Deirdre was women's national champion in 1959 and Jill was winner in 1967 and 1969 and runner-up on seven occasions. Beverley was Mashonaland champion in 1969 and runner-up in the Rhodesian championships in 1966 and 1969.

Their father, John H. 'Jack' Warburton, has been Rhodesian veterans champion six times, from 1964 to 1968 straight and, in 1973, and to cap this amazing family squash saga, Gay's husband, Nic, was Rhodesian champion in 1965.

Federal championships:
Winner 1961. Runner-up 1962, 1963 to Mrs. B. Boon.
Rhodesian championships: Winner - 1963. 1964, 1965.1966. 1968. 1970,1971, 1973, 1974.  1975, 1976, 1977. Runner-up - 1967. Did not play - 1969. 1972, 1978.
Mashonaland championships: Winner — 1959. 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964. 1965. 1966. 1967.  1968, 1970. 1971. 1973, 1974. 1975. Runner-up 1976, 1977. Did not play - 1969. 1972. 1978. No tournament - 1962.
South African championships: Winner - 1965, 1966, 1968. Runner-up -1967, 1974.
Springbok series — 1963 (v. Britain), 1968 (captain on tour to U.K.). 1973 (captain v. Britain), 1975  (captain v. New Zealand), 1976 (captain on tour to Australia).

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Thursday, 23 August 2012

John Harcourt (Jackie) du Preez

At the age of seven he began bowling natural leg-spinners in a dusty Glendale farmyard. At the age of thirty-six, in September 1979, Jackie du Preez became the first Zimbabwean (formerly Rhodesian) to be granted an official benefit match.

 That the Zimbabwe Cricket Union awarded him such a benefit was a fitting tribute to outstanding loyalty in a first-class career which spanned nineteen seasons and brought many notable deeds and records his way, including becoming the first specialist leg-spinner to play for the Springboks since the days of Ian Smith (1947-58) and Percy Mansell (1951-55).

 That so many world-class players — including Graeme Pollock, Mike Procter, Vince van der Bijl and Denis Lindsay — readily rallied to his benefit cause underscored Jackie's immense popularity with colleagues and opponents alike. His demeanour and sportsmanship were never questioned in his long career and he always met both triumph and disaster on the field in his typically nonchalant way. He always had the same sprightly walk (which earned him the nickname 'Jaunty') and the unflappable temperament that was the secret of much of his success. He always played his cricket with a sense of purpose, adventure and enjoyment which endeared him to spectators everywhere.

 The only player to reach 100 first-class caps (up to the end of 1979-80) for the country, he is also one of a select band to have achieved the coveted double of 2 000 runs and 100 wickets in Southern African cricket. He played in 113 first- class matches for Rhodesia between his debut in 1961, shortly before his nineteenth birthday, against John Reid's New Zealanders and the Currie Cup match against Transvaal at Bulawayo in November 1979, just six days before his thirty-seventh birthday.

 He had scored 3 994 runs, just six runs short of becoming the fourth in the country to amass 4 000 runs in company with Brian Davison, Stuart Robertson and Ray Gripper. Du Preez scored one century 20 half-centuries, held 71 catches and claimed 279 wickets — third on the all-time list for the country, just a shade behind 'Goofy' Lawrences record 296 and Joe Partridges 281. He took five
 wickets in an innings on ten occasions.

 Repeatedly one of the outstanding all-rounders in Currie Cup competition, Du Preez earned a ranking second only to Percy Mansell in this regard in Rhodesian first-class cricket history. A large part of his charisma and success was his unflinching courage when facing adversity — so often he would be the saviour when all seemed lost.

 End of 95

 Born at Salisbury on 14 November 1942, John Harcourt (Jackie ) du Preez was introduced to the game at Highlands Junior School, where he was initially coached by former Springbok, Chris Duckworth, and later by the Sussex professional, Jim Cornford.

 "I remember when I started trying to bowl as fast as I could," recalls Jackie. "Every kid was trying to be a fast bowler in those days and it wasn't until Duckworth noticed that every ball was a leg-break, that I started spin-bowling."

 At the age of twelve he was in the school 1st XI and at fourteen he made his first national appearance in the Rhodesian junior team, the Fawns. Before graduating to Prince Edward School, Salisbury, he had acquired a reputation as a leg-spinner and batsman of note, with a handful of junior school centuries to his credit. In his final year at school he placed both feet on the lower rung of the ladder to fame and gained selection for the Rhodesian Nuffield XI, attending the same Nuffield Week as Graeme Pollock at Port Elizabeth in 1961. The two men have since remained firm friends and Jackie and his wife Lorraine named their first son —who also excelled as a sportsman at Highlands — Graeme.

 In his first year out of school, Jackie's enormous natural ability and potential were recognised and he was thrown in at the deep end for his first-class debut against New Zealand at the Queens Ground at Bulawayo in October 1961. The youngster batted at number 10 in a team that read: A. Pithey, R. Gripper, D. Arnott, D. Lewis, C. Bland, I. Haig, R. Robertson, V. Dickinson, G. Griffin, J. du Preez and
 J. Partridge.

 Rhodesia put up a splendid performance, reaching 311-8 on the first day (Bland 91) while fine bowling by Partridge and Griffin, who each took four wickets, saw the tourists dismissed for 262.

 Rhodesia scored 197-5 declared, in their second innings, setting the Kiwis a target of 246 in 195 minutes. To their credit the challenge was accepted, but falling wickets eventually saw them holding on desperately for a draw, with their last pair at the wicket and only 162 runs on the board. After bowling 3 overs for 23 runs in the first innings, Du Preez was rewarded with his first first-class wickets in this second innings, taking 2-42 in 13 overs. Rhodesia had come close to winning for the first time against an official international team.

 The second match against New Zealand was played at Salisbury, but unfortunately rain ruined a game that held the promise of another exciting finish. Set four hours to get 259, the tourists were at 27 without loss when rain prevented any further play.

 In 1962 and 1963 Ron Roberts brought out a Commonwealth XI and for the first time non-European players were seen in Rhodesia, including great stars such as Hanif Mahommed, Everton Weekes, Chandra Borde, Sonny Ramadhin, Wes Hall, Rohan Kanhai and Basil d'Oliveira. This meant Du Preez was fortunate enough to gain a wealth of experience against many of the world's best cricketers in his early years. And he showed up well.

 The diminutive Rhodesian spinner took 4-97 and 3-71 at Salisbury, Tom Graveney and d'Oliveira being among his victims.

 Richie Benaud's Cavaliers came on tour in 1963 and faced Rhodesia at Salisbury. Norman O'Neill of Australia was at his rampant best, scoring 96 and 136. Du Preez bowled only nine overs in this match. Ray Gripper (111) and Tony Pithey (141) batted superbly to see Rhodesia safely to a draw.

 Du Preez was, however, continuing to be close to cricketing greatness and he was absorbing the experience and gaining inspiration and confidence. Chosen to play for a South African Invitation XI against the Cavaliers, he got a further taste of big-time cricket, taking 1-42 in the first innings and 2-70 in the second, dismissing both openers, John Edrich for 72 and Phil Sharpe, whom he caught and bowled, for 47. Although Trevor Goddard got 122 for the South Africans, the Cavaliers won by six wickets with some exhilarating batting by O'Neill (158 not out) in the first innings. In the season 1962-63 Du Preez played nine matches, taking 27 wickets at an average of 22,0.

 The season 1966-67 was to be the most momentous in Du Preez's career. He staked his claim for Test recognition against Bobby Simpson's Australians at Salisbury when, in the opening innings of their Southern African tour, he captured six wickets in succession to return an analysis of 6-95 in 32 overs, his 'scalps' including Ian Chappell for a 'duck' and Keith Stackpole. At one stage his analysis  read 6-33. It was in this match that towering wicket-keeper Howie Gardiner made a big name for himself with a rampaging innings of 81, including six sixes and seven fours. However, the Aussies could not be contained and they won by eight wickets with a day to spare, though Du Preez also caught and bowled Redpath in the second innings. Gardiner had, in a non-first-class two-day warm-up match for the Aussies at Bulawayo against a Matabeleland XI, also hit 86 in 58 minutes with five gigantic sixes, for a total of eleven sixes in two innings against the tourists.

 During the season, Du Preez also took 6-128 against Natal, fighting a lone battle in vain as Natal stormed to victory by an innings and six runs, Mike Procter being their main strikeforce with 7-25 in 20 overs. But Du Preez proved his all- round ability by top scoring for Rhodesia in each innings — 28 and 76 not out when he valiantly defied Procter.

 Against Eastern Province at Port Elizabeth in December 1966 he also notched his maiden — and only — first-class century against a formidable attack that included Peter Pollock and Gordon Den. Rhodesia's batting was a two-man effort, Du Preez (112 with 16 fours and a six) and Tony Pithey (93) contributing a record Rhodesian fourth wicket partnership of 210 that was still intact at the close of the 1979-80 season. Du Preez gave Pithey an hour's start and when he reached his century his captain was on 75. In the second innings Du Preez again dominated the bowling and played a lone hand, scoring 70. In a thrilling finish, Easterns scraped home by one wicket on the first innings.

 That season, Du Preez topped the Rhodesian batting averages, scoring 394 runs in seven matches at 35,81 each. His 24 wickets were also easily the most by a Rhodesian bowler and came at a cost of 28,16. His magnificent achievements brought rich rewards — he won his Springbok cap for two Tests against Simpson's Australians, was named one of South Africa's Five Cricketers of the Year and was
 honoured by Rhodesia as the nation's Sportsman of the Year by the award of the John Hopley Trophy.

 He made his Test debut in the fourth match of the series at the Wanderers from 3-8 February 1967 and was included at the expense of David Pithey. The twenty-four-year-old Du Preez was the ninth Rhodesian to win Springbok colours, following Dennis Tomlinson, Percy Mansell, Chris Duckworth, Colin Bland, Godfrey Lawrence, Joe Partridge, Tony Pithey and David Pithey.

 Scenting a possible South African victory, a 20 000 crowd watched the fifth and final day at the Wanderers with Australia having to survive a full day at the crease for the draw. In only his second over in Test cricket, and with the last ball before lunch, Du Preez deceived Bob Cowper to bowl him for 16 and claim his first Test wicket — he has kept the stump the ball hit. He also dismissed Stackpole, caught by Goddard for five, but rain came and saved the Aussies from certain defeat. Du Preez, who did not bowl in the first innings, recorded figures of 14-6-22-2. However, batting ahead of Procter, he failed to score in his debut innings.

 South Africa won the fifth and final Test at Port Elizabeth by seven wickets to wrap up the series 3-1, Du Preez requiring only two overs in the first innings to take Graham McKenzie's wicket without conceding a run, and eight overs in the second innings for 29 runs. Again he failed to score and so has the dubious distinction of never having scored a Test run, though he only batted twice. His three Test wickets cost 51 runs at 17,00.

 "1 think the moment I remember most off the field," recalls Du Preez, "was in the plane travelling from Durban to Salisbury after I had been twelfth man in the third Test against the Aussies. I didn't expect to make the Springbok final team and was quite ready to go back to my farm. Lindsay Tuckett, one of the selectors, was on the flight with me. At Johannesburg, when he was about to disembark, I went over to say goodbye before travelling on to Salisbury. He just smiled and said: 'See you next week at the Wanderers'... I knew I was in the Bok side."

 Du Preez completed the first-class double of 1 000 runs and 100 wickets in 1967-68 when he was again Rhodesia's highest wicket-taker with 28 at 23,75, three times claiming five wickets in an innings. Against Transvaal B at Salisbury he claimed 11-132 with a career best of 8-92 in the second innings after he had scored 72, to add to Peter Carlstein's 93, to lead Rhodesia to victory by 39 runs.

 The next month Du Preez spun out Griqualand West with a first innings analysis of 28-12-74-6 when Rhodesia won by nine wickets at Bulawayo. He also participated in one of Rhodesia's most memorable matches against Free State at Bloemfontein early in 1968, when three batsmen mutilated the record books. Rhodesia won by an innings and 62 runs, losing only one wicket in the entire match while Free State were dismissed for 252 and 235, Rhodesia piling up a massive 549-1 declared. Ray Gripper's 279 not out was a new Currie Cup record, eclipsing Eric Rowan's 277 not out for Transvaal against Griquas in 1950-51. He batted for 6½ hours to establish a Rhodesian record first-wicket partnership of 268 with Jono Clarke (130) and an all-wicket record for the country with Rob Ullyett (126 not out), amassing 281 in an unfinished stand.

 Du Preez had developed into a fine attacking batsman and as a spinner was the best at his craft in Southern Africa. In 1968-69 he was unluckily run out for 91 against Transvaal at the Wanderers (Rhodesia lost by 10 wickets), took 4-104 in 37,1 overs, took 6-149 against Natal at Salisbury (including Barry Richards and Mike Procter), scored 89 in the abandoned match against Transvaal at Salisbury and finished the season with 19 wickets and 364 runs.

 Although 1973-74 was a poor season for Rhodesia, who finished bottom of the A Section Currie Cup table, Du Preez stood out, especially with the bat. In eleven matches he scored 582 runs at an average of 32,33 and with five half- centuries. But a second first-class century continued to elude him and at the Wanderers against Transvaal he became the only man in Currie Cup history to be run out for 99, after striking 14 delightful fours and facing 126 balls in a merry innings. However, as an all-rounder for the season he was behind only Eddie Barlow and Procter and was deservedly chosen for the South African Invitation XI to play Brian Close's Derrick Robins XI at Newlands. In the first real test of strength for South African cricket since the 1970 Australians, the home team was, E. Barlow (capt.), B. Richards, H. Ackerman, G. Pollock, L Irvine, M. Procter, D. Biggs, J. du Preez, A. Smith, P. Swart and V. van der Bijl. The batsmen were in command in this draw, Du Preez taking 1-22 in 12 overs and playing in the second match against the Robins side at Durban, another draw. The South African XI piled up 454, with Richards scoring 180.

 In the Salisbury match against Western Province in 1974-75 Du Preez skittled out the visitors with 6-102 in a match which was won by Rhodesia by 113 runs, when Howie Gardiner was out for 99. Du Preez reached the magical milestone of 100 caps for Rhodesia in 1975-76 against Natal at Durban.

 From the mid-1970s, 'Jaunty Jackie's' cricketing career was in decline as he was paying more attention to his farm at Melfort, near Salisbury, and could no longer afford to devote the hours of practice so necessary to stay at the top. Most fittingly, however, he took part in his country's greatest cricket triumph when Rhodesia won the inaugural one-day knockout Datsun Shield (the successor to the Gillette Cup) in 1977-78 at the Wanderers, beating Eastern Province in the final. And he contributed significantly to that success by bowling maestro Graeme Pollock for only 36 before he could tear apart the attack, as he was threatening to do.

 In 1978-79 he played only two games for Rhodesia before being somewhat harshly axed, especially after a heroic match-saving 75 not out on a sticky wicket against Van der Bijl's Natalians at Bulawayo. In 1979-80 he appeared with little distinction in the opening three matches.

 He had played in 91 Currie Cup games, a record for Zimbabwe, bettered only by Lorrie Wilmot, who played in just under 100, and Graeme Pollock who played in 92, both for Eastern Province.

 As a fitting end to this chapter, here are the words of Rhodesia's finest captain, David Lewis, under whose direction Du Preez performed during his first years playing for the country. "Jackie will always be remembered for his entirely relaxed, honest and happy approach to the game. This endeared him to spectators and he became one of our most popular cricketers.

 "I think the aspect of his play that will live with me longest is his absolutely incredible ability as a catcher behind the wicket. His capacity for anticipation and holding the impossible catch was something to be remembered — and it was done with consummate ease. A very talented and remarkable cricketer, he has made a most worthwhile contribution to the game in this country."


Matches:  113
Innings:  186
Not Out:  24
Runs:  3 994
Highest Score:  112
Average:  24,65
100:  1
50: 19

Balls:  16,960
Maidens:  607
Wickets:  279
Average:  3,47
5WI: 10
10WM: 1
BBI:  8-92


Players making 50 or more appearances:   
J. H. du Preez:  113
B. F. Davison:  90
D. A. G. Fletcher:  87
R. A. Gripper:  79
S. D. Robertson:  77
D. J. Lewis:  73
G. B. Lawrence:  66
A. J. Pithey:  65
P. B. Clift:  65
J. T. Partridge:  56
K. C. Bland:  55
P. N. F. Mansell:  55
H. A. B. Gardiner:  54

Players scoring 3 000 or more runs:
B. F. Davison:  4 480
S. D. Robertson:  4 343
R. A. Gripper:  4 107
J. H. du Preez: : 3 994
A. J. Pithey:  3 987
M. J. Procter:  3 662
D. J. Lewis:  3 254
P. N. F. Mansell:  3 027

Players taking 200 or more wickets:
G. B. Lawrence:  296
J. T. Partridge:  281
J. H. du Preez:  279
P. N. F. Mansell:  203

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Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Robert Barry Lionel Chalmers

Santa Maria couldn't believe his eyes. The imposing Real Madrid centre-half, one of the world's most famous soccer defenders, stood hands on hips and mouth agape as the ball rattled into the Madrid net and the 35 000 crowd at Johannesburg's Rand Stadium erupted with delight.

 Zimbabwe-born Bobby Chalmers had had the audacity to beat Santa Maria hands down and score one of the most brilliant opportunist goals seen in South Africa.

 The chunky blond Chalmers, just 5 ft 7 in. (170 cm) of soccer dynamite, was playing in a roving attacking role for the South African Knights that glorious evening of 8 September 1964. John Rugg, former Queen of the South player in Scotland, and later Zimbabwe's acting national coach, who was then playing for Durban City, was South Africa's captain.

 Although Real Madrid won 5-2 it was Chalmers who scored both home team goals to record one of his proudest games. It was also in 1964 that Chalmers thrilled his fans with a hat-trick for Durban City against Jewish Guild in the Castle Cup Final, all his goals coming in the second half. This was the only hat-trick scored in a final and his greatest year was climaxed by being named Footballer of the Year.

 Although his record-breaking soccer career was forged in South Africa, Chalmers did return to his homeland to captain the then Rhodesia into their first World Cup challenge in 1969. His fluent knowledge of both Shona and Ndebele, coupled with his vast experience and legendary stature in South Africa, made him a popular leader who brought out the best qualities in his men.

 Rhodesian soccer truly came of age with this entry for the 1970 World Cup. Few gave them even a remote chance of winning their qualifying section, let alone reaching the final sixteen in Mexico, but two years of intensive coaching by Scotsman Danny McLennan produced a proud and motivated team that twice held the might of Australia to draws before losing the third game 3-1.

 The full eighteen-man squad was: Robin Jordan, William Sibanda, Peter Haddon, James Chibaya, Isaac Chieza, Shepherd Murape, Topsy Robertson, George Shaya, Hylton Grainger, Nelson Mapara, Alex Mwanza, Gibson Homela, Itayi Chieza, Philemon Tigere, Adolf Mutuma, Stewart Gilbert Stewart Knowles and Bobby Chalmers.

 For the 1969 qualifying rounds, Rhodesia were placed in Group 15 — the Asian-Oceanic Group. Despite being in the heart of Africa, Rhodesia were not included in a section from this continent, the FIFA Organising Committee noting that none of the African countries which had entered, maintained diplomatic relations with Rhodesia. Indeed, at this time only a few countries in the world recognised Rhodesia following the Unilateral Declaration of Independence.

 But political rumblings also threatened to split Group 15 after it had been decided to form two sub-groups by lots, and Rhodesia found herself with Japan, the Korean Republic and Australia. The venue for this Group 15/1 was fixed as South Korea, but a month before kick-off the Government of the Republic of Korea warned that it would not issue visas to the Rhodesians.

 After a hurriedly arranged compromise, the tournament did take place in Korea with only Korea, Japan and Australia participating and the winner was instructed to play Rhodesia on a home and away basis. The Australians emerged victorious with two wins and two draws and had to play two matches against Rhodesia to decide the qualifier for Mexico. The vast distance between the two countries and the shortage of time made the home and away ruling impossible and eventually Lourenco Marques in Mozambique was chosen as the venue.

 The historic date for the first match was 23 November 1969 when the teams drew 1-1 after no score at half-time. The second clash ended in a no-score draw and it was necessary to go to a play-off, which the Aussies eventually won 3-1. Only 7 000 people saw the three games — a great pity, for had they been played in Salisbury 100 000 or more would almost certainly have been attracted. But it was a thrilling series and the Rhodesian team was hailed on its return and the nation's football received a notable boost.

 Robert Barry Lionel Chalmers was born at Bulawayo on 19 February 1941 and attended Raylton Junior and Milton High Schools. At Milton he showed promise as a rugby player and was 1st XV full back, but he had been bred on soccer, playing in the junior ranks for Queens, where he came under the influence of Bobby Styles.

 Although his eldest brother, Des, represented Rhodesia at both rugby and cricket, it was the soccer path which was to lead Bobby to glory and in 1961 he played for Rhodesia against Leicester City (lost 4-3) and West Ham (lost 3-0 and 5-0).

 In 1962 Chalmers married Salisbury girl, Audrey Linden, and later that year they headed south in a beat-up Volkswagen. He was given a soccer trial by Durban City and was quickly signed on by the astute Norman Elliott — at R40 a month plus bonuses. So was launched the brilliant career of a real 'Bobby Dazzler'. He went on to win numerous awards and accolades while scoring hundreds of memorable goals and taking over the mantle of the famed Les Salton as the most marked man in South African soccer.

 It was Alf Boyd, the Durban City manager, who, in 1964, decided to move Chalmers permanently from wing to centre-forward. The move paid handsome dividends — he scored 58 goals that season, just two short of Salton's record. However, it was in June 1963 that Chalmers played in the middle for the first time as an experiment in a first-round Castle Cup match against Kimberley United. Bobby netted seven goals in an overwhelming 14-1 victory and the next week scored a hat-trick before his delighted home spectators against West Rand United. Nevertheless when the 1964 season opened he was on the flank again for the first seven matches before switching back permanently to the middle. This marked the turning-point of his career.

 During the off season he had worked tirelessly to iron out the flaws in his game and he was no longer just a chaser of balls down the middle. He became a polished all-round player, whose subtle touches kept his strikers moving fluently. He had developed a powerful shot with either foot and his headwork had improved out of all recognition. He had lost none of his dash or zest and in 1964 became by far the most valuable piece of footballing merchandise in South Africa, while losing none of his natural charm and modesty.

 Chalmers played for Natal against Arsenal, the famous English club, in a disastrous 8-2 defeat but later in that 1964 season when Real Madrid toured, his moment of destiny had arrived as the South African Castle Knights earned the greatest honour in a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the magical Spaniards. It was a wonderful soccer spectacle and for Bobby a night of glory. Real cantered to a 3-0 half-time lead, then in the second half, Chalmers set the terraces alight with a rasping shot after beating two defenders. Then, with Real leading 5-1, he hit another great shot for his second goal.

 Amongst his most prized goals was one scored before his home supporters against Durban United in the Castle Cup quarter-finals at Durban's new Kingsmead. United, with goals by Ronnie Mann and Les Salton, had run into a 2-0 lead within thirteen minutes, with City poaching one back a minute from the interval. It was a cracking pace in the second half, when Chalmers picked up a pass and raced along the edge of the penalty area with three defenders in hot pursuit. suddenly he stopped, almost dead in his tracks, and as his pursuers skidded to ahalt he slashed a shot into the net.

 Also in 1964 he stunned spectators and the Arcadia Shepherds by scoring three goals in four minutes for Durban City ... and Shepherds had Springbok goalkeeper Trevor Gething! Little wonder Bobby Chalmers was Footballer of the Year.

 City dropped a bombshell when they transferred Chalmers to Durban United in 1966 for a South African record of R20 000. From there, he moved on to Maritzburg in 1968. With Chalmers spearheading their attack, Maritzburg's fortunes immediately soared and they won the national cup, took part in the champion of champions tourney and were beaten finalists in the bowl.

 In 1969 he grabbed the winning goal for Maritzburg in the Castle Cup Final against Cape Town City at the Rand Stadium, unleashing a typical thunderbolt in extra time after the teams had been deadlocked at 1-1. It was in this year that Chalmers responded to a call from his home country, Rhodesia, to lead them into World Cup qualifying combat. In a warm-up match against Malawi at Salisbury's
 Gwanzura Stadium, Rhodesia won 4-0 and Chalmers — who scored a goal — was man of the match.

 It was early in 1974 — when he was plagued by knee trouble and at the end of his brilliant career — that Chalmers finally broke Salton's long-standing South African National League record of 294 goals. He went on to score over 300, though a succession of leg injuries eventually sidelined him for good. He now lives in Durban where he is a public relations officer for a group of hotels.

 To demonstrate the power of his shot, Chalmers was once put to the test in Maritzburg, when a bare-foot shot was timed at 78,4 mph with an accurate electronic device. This was claimed as a world record. England's Peter Lorimer had won a similar competition in England, timed below 80 mph with his boots on.

 A graceful stylist, with a supple swerve and cannon-ball shot, Chalmers was always the perfect gentleman and sportsman. He deserved the accolade as Southern Africa's Crown Prince of Soccer.


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