Legends Corner: Crossing the great divide with Johannes Kholoane
JOHANNES "Bigboy" Kholoane dared go where other players wouldn't ... leaving one Soweto giant and joining the other. This at a time when the rivalry between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates was at an all-time high.
He did call it arrogance, and maybe there is some truth to that, but Kholoane refused to be intimidated.
Sowetan caught up with this fearless legend .
Could you please tell us about some of the teams you played for?
I played for Mofolo Army Rockets, Blue Bells, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates
Do you remember your first match for Chiefs?
It was against African Wanderers at Orlando Stadium in 1973. We won the match 10-1 and I scored five goals.
What a way to introduce yourself to the club's supporters!
Yeah. I was privileged because before joining Chiefs, I knew a lot about them. I used to go watch them play, so settling into the team was no problem.
How did Chiefs notice you?
They saw me playing against Manning Rangers for Blue Bells and I must have made an impression. When I arrived, I wasn't afraid of anyone as I believed in my ability as a player and I knew the Chiefs players well, having watched them play.
Which coach stood out the most during your time at Chiefs?
The late Eddie Lewis because after joining Chiefs, he told me that management had told him that there were key players in the team but I wasn't mentioned as one of those players. But I worked hard and my talent, and nothing else, convinced him that I was equally good.
You then did the unthinkable and joined Pirates.
Without my knowledge, Chiefs decided to sell me to Benoni United. I read it in the newspapers. So the Pirates management managed to get my clearance on a Wednesday and the following day I signed, and on Saturday I played my first game for them.
What was your time with Pirates like?
It was great, we were all equal and I fitted like a glove.
Do you remember your first game for Pirates?
Yes, it was against Chiefs at Orlando Stadium in 1976 and I scored the only goal of the match in the dying minutes.
Were you ever scared for your life playing for the enemy?
I would say yes and no because I had good guys watching my back from Lenasia. The guys were affiliated with Blue Bells and people were scared of them so I was well protected.
Which game would you say was your best at Pirates?
There were many. My first game for the club and also against Witbank Black Aces, because after trailing for a long period, I equalised. Then there was a game against Highlands Park on the day of Jomo Sono's wedding at Ellis Park Stadium. I scored the first two goals. Jomo and (Amos) Mkhari scored the others. We beat them 4-2.
One day we were playing Chiefs, and at the start of the second half, Jomo and I dribbled the whole of Chiefs without them even touching the ball. We won that match 2-0 with the two of us scoring.
That was incredible!
The coach criticised me after the match for over-dribbling but the fans loved it. One day against Benoni United, I took their whole defence on, including the goalkeeper. My coach at Pirates, then Alex Forbes, was already celebrating before I had even scored. At half-time he said, 'Bigboy, are you trying to kill me?'
What was the money like?
People say we were not paid enough, but we were. The problem is that people are comparing the situation then and now. I could fill up a trolley with groceries at a supermarket with R10 .
How did you handle the fame?
I didn't even see it as fame because my family didn't know I played football until very late. To me, I was only playing football to help and support my family.
Who was the best- dressed teammate?
Ryder Mofokeng, Webster Lichaba and Phil Setshedi
I would rather not say.
What are you doing for a living today?
I own a small company.
Are you not involved in football in any way?
I am working with schools football.
You are passionate about football..
I am and it runs in the family. (Rudolph) Gardner Seale, who used to play for Chiefs, is my nephew.
How did you get your nickname Staff Nurse?
As a defender, you would not be able to kick me because I would clean you up good. By the time I went past a defender, he'd already be on the floor.