man…but that hurts

Someone once told me that I use the word ‘excruciating’ way too much. Of course I protested until I realized I was in fact going to use it here. Really though, that is not just a word I use lightly, but simply because it paints a picture not enough paint brushes could ever portray.

One of my many moms (don’t ask) often say it’s because I feel things way too deep – open for debate, however, I will confess that when a man (or woman) in Green and Gold (or Liverpool and often Bulls) lose an all, but important game I weep with them. I remember this horrible feeling twice this year alone; the time Graeme Smith side lost a unlosable quarter-finals to Black Caps in India; when an over-confident Bok side gave a World-Cup away. 2010 was no different.

I wept silly when Bafana Bafana lost to Uruguay in Loftus. Okay, no one really expected Carlos Santana’s boys to go past the South Americans. It was (however) the manner of that shattering night that out did me.

I am latent person, which means the water works doesn’t usually come until the next day, while everyone has moved on to the next, the sad news will sink in and all hell break loose.

gutted

That feeling would return once again. My first time watching Austin Smith and his side live diddn’t go as I had hoped. I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t own a top that says ‘Team SA’, so going to support the other Proteas – Hockey – I knew I was not going to be completely satisfied with what I was wearing.

I am that person who will frown at you for showing up at a rugby match in your football replica (and vice-versa). Let me apologize now. Anyhow, as I was parking I saw little to nobody wearing what I had on (obviously these people know what a drag-flick is). Since it was fifteen minutes before kick-off, I had to stick it out.

So there in my Boks jersey I made my way to the box and by half-time I knew my heart will be doing one or two things. Fall into little pieces or jump outta my chest with pride. With 30 seconds left on the clock my little heart was doing the former. For my beloved have just lost – to India – one of the most important matches of their lives; an Olympic qualifier.

After putting together a title-winning first-half to lead the eight-time Olympic gold medalists 2-1 in the semifinals of the Champions Challenge, I haven’t got a cooking clue how the 10th ranked team came back to win it 4-2. In essence robbing South Africa the match they needed to book their spots to the 2012 Olympics.

It was painful to endure and after listening and watching a gutted Smith, I simply did what I usually do. What I did when John Smit lost his 100th test cap match. No, not rush home and write a blog about it, that comes after, but simply make a trip to MacDonald’s for a McFlurry. It changes nothing, but its awesome mixed with a couple of tears.

I haven’t cried yet, that will come tomorrow when I read all the reports of how this was SA’s match to win. How we dominated. When the stats shows we had it in the bag. That’s when it’ll all but sink in. That sickening feeling I will describe ‘excruciating’…

All is not lost for Gregg Clark’s brave SAffers though. Come April/May and they’ll be off to Japan for yet another chance to book those Olympics tickets. Nothing gets one fired up like a ‘should have been’. So this is me trying to look on the bright side and hoping this sad loss – though we wish differently – is all this young side need to ‘Moer Hulle’ in Japan

man to lead

Winning attitude from the drag-flick hero – Justin Reid-Ross. He tweeted “Thank you for all the amazing support. So proud to be South African. We’ll be charging for a medal tomorrow and we WILL get to London

All the best boytjies

Advertisements

crossing the line

The Springboks saved face to the delight of a nation whose ‘ego’ could not afford any more bruising. The stands at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in PE roared. Much like a small sports club situated at the heart of the Border Bulls dogs home in East London did in 2007, after a mere 15 points proved enough to own the rights to lifting the much coveted Webb Ellis Trophy.

At long last our men in Green and Gold gave us something to smile about (if only for a weekend). ‘Restoring’ the pride of a nation that has this elusive thing called pride in all sort of bags.

For many South Africans this country, this over-sized – yet communal community, these men running on these fields – whether it be a cricket, a white elephant stadium, a swimming pool where young hearts’ pride carries them through. Let it be a track field where the word obstacle is just another motivating fact to keep fighting. Yes, to many SAffers the pride of this nation is a prized possession.

Oh never mind the ‘special cases’ who bodily place their pride in a black jersey (it’s their decision). The ones who trash and tarnish our name at every corner.

Do excuse the ignorant souls who fully embrace ‘the ends justifies the means’ approach. That is all minor compared to the SAffer who celebrate Bok Day, misses Football Fridays (because the new kit is just kak).

Look at the ones who welcomed Graeme Smith with opens arms even after ‘deserting’ them. That’s the SAffer who has your back.

The long-suffering stranger that knows where this country has been and thanks the Lord for what it could be. That’s the brother who will paint a stranger’s house to honour a man he has never seen anywhere other than his TV screen and would probably never meet.

That’s the one whose pride for South Africa will never waver. That’s the one to look at.

The one who raised his glass an notch higher when George Clancy blew his Irish whistle signalling a ‘no whitewash’. That SAffer exists in many households. That’s me.

I didn’t raise mine (not right there and there anyway for I was working) but I did jump out of my chair half-way to the ceiling, screamed my lungs out in celebratory manner that on an average day would’ve had the neighbours rushing in, only not today because they had just caused ear-drum damage themselves.

However, I couldn’t ignore the terrible taste in my mouth left by Bismarck du Plessis as he made his way to the bench, after John Smit was called to sub him. I have never been less impressed with a pro-athlete.

As I tweetted I’m a huge du Plessis’ brother’s fan. That said, I have always and will forever raise the sportsmanship flag first and foremost (that is why Indian skipper MS Dhoni is one of my favourite people).

In his Front Row Grunt blog Sport24 publisher Tank Lanning took the words out of my mouth saying

“Bismarck du Plessis’ reaction to being hooked for John Smit, no matter the situation, was despicable.

Sure he had enjoyed an excellent game, and had just been instrumental in sneaking a tighthead against the All Blacks, but what was he expecting – a full 80 minutes? 

That smacks of disharmony in the team, and management are going to have to sort that out quickly”.

While Tanks’ blog (read HERE) goes into a bit of detail on who the better hooker is, this is not about that.

Please understand I am not disputing that the youngest du Plessis had an incredible run, and is arguably the best hooker we have (if not in the world) he does however needs a serious attitude adjustment…..and fast!

You may join the number of sport lovers on Twitter who have done everything but slay me for the above statement, saying he was justified, kindly accept that I have to disagree.

I do admire and appreciate his passion for play and to want to win. But when passion is placed before respect it is useless. Best hooker in the world or not, his attitude did not honour that status.

It didn’t serve the game, disrespected management who made the call. Undermined his long-standing captain and it most certainly didn’t honour the sportsmanship code which I value beyond any talent.

I have been a ‘below-amateur’ athlete since primary school and today most of my Saturday are spent at a volleyball court in University of JHB colours, while on Sunday afternoons I don my soccer boots for NCC.

My (volleyball) captain has never warmed the bench while I’m on court (thank God). But we have butted heads when she pulls a look of disappointment to her players.

I’ve missed training and coach punishes me by putting on someone else in my spot. I don’t always approve, and sometimes throw my toys. But at the end of the day in team-sport no one is bigger that the code, and no one should be allowed to think they are.

With the weight of criticism (already) sitting heavily on his (massive) shoulder, dare imagine how learning that his own team-mate has no faith in him must’ve made him feel.

He’s the captain. Whether we choose to question, accept that or not. Fact is he IS the captain. The one given the responsibility to lead. Placed in authority by people who trusts in his leadership. Oh never mind that it was his last (ever) test match on home soil!

Jannie  received the same fate, only the older du Plessis was a good sport about it.

I can only hope big brother can remind Bismarck that sport – especially team-sport – has no room for unprofessional, immature brats, regardless of ‘standings’

Rugby pundit Morgan Piek summed it up nicely when he said

“Bismarck reaction was nothing less than pathetic and immature. I have never seen John Smit react like that when he (Bisie )replaces John Smit on 60 minutes.

That is why John Smit is our super captain and that is why John Smit is the starting hooker

In pride, there are just some lines one doesn’t cross. And in my eyes (whether intended or not) Bismarck jumped over this one and that should not be unacceptable.

absolutey. utterly. gutted.

It was destiny. That the greatest captain in green and gold would reach a milestone that only few in the world could ever boast about. These legends, of course, include SA’s incomparable full-back, none other than the retired Percy Montgomery.

I can vividly recall the week the world joined us, as we made a fuss about Monty’s acquisition.It was a first for SA, and we stood proud, in unity, celebrating the greatest of greats.

No one was as pleased as my pastor, Rev Dave Gernertzky. Monty’s boot became a feature in Sundays sermons for an entire season, his love for Monty knew no bounds.

This was it for Smity, this was the moment we will tell our grandkids about. John Smit. Jake White’s protege, the 2007 Rugby World Cup winning captain; would receive the standing ovation from over 94 000 fans as he reaches one of the greatest accolades in rugby history; his 100th cap.

Only God could have orchestrated this meeting, that Smit would earn his glory on home turf. And more fitting was that this would take place in Soweto, with more history than I dare remember.

That FNB Stadium, worldly know as Soccer City – the stadium that hosted the battle between Spain and Netherlands for the ever contested Soccer World Cup Trophy – would host this phenomenon. It was just meant to be.

I can only imagine the atmosphere at the Smit household the morning of this event. One can only envision what was going through the man of the moment’s head during the captain’s run.

Was he calm? Was anxiety the main factor? Or just plain excitement and pure pride? Did the opposition matter at all or only just the reason why all the attention is on him?

Having gone past old City only two hours before kickoff, the atmosphere was electrifying, only I wasn’t to experience it to its core, Dros Pub it had to be. Dressed in my ‘Body Classique Personalised Bok’ jersey I joined the predominant male species.

As he (Smit) walked in ahead of his mates, I’ve never been prouder. I’ve never seen a nation more proud. This is our boy. This is not only his day, but OUR day too.

As we stood, I swear the balding man across our table’s stained-with-tears-face reflected Smity’s. We raised our beer glasses (ok mine had something else), lumps in throats, there really were no words.

By the end of the first half, it seemed the Boks would (prematurely) hold the Kiwis from claiming 2010 Tri-Nations (Not today Haka boys, Schalla and (Juan) Smith’s play demonstrated such).

Title lost to the Boks, pride was on the way and Smity would get his day with absolutely no hindrance, for it is meant to be.

And then, *sigh* then two minutes remaining, it all went sour, particularly for Smit as he missed an all important tackle that simply crushed an entire nation.

Blackstars’ humiliation at the hands of Suarez surely was not this excruciating. Bafana’s crushed dreams by Uruguay was somehow expected. But this? It couldn’t be! Surely Nigel Owens blew his Welsh whistle a tad bit early.

Someone tell him his watch is wrong! Tell him Smity has paid his dues and he has a legitimate claim! Play on! Somebody! Anybody…?

It was all over. Smity wasn’t to reign (Not today Ole Ole boys, Richie McCaw’s grin seemed to say), like Monty’s 19-0 defeat, they will be no victory.

What was suppose to be the greatest day of his life turned into an ‘I will be disappointment for a long time’ (Smit, at a presser’) Maybe Sharks victory was for their captain, but man, if ever there was an irony…

Pierre Spiers summed up the day with this tweet:

“Not nice but that’s sport…we leave it all on the field. Proud of our boys and well done to the All Blacks. Well done John Smit you legend!”