Popular clubs are really what bring this book to life
AND then there were many!
Until earlier this year, looking for a book on the history of South African football was like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.
Today, as we speak, three have rolled off the presses and are competing for our attention.
Very good. Very healthy. It was long overdue.
No sooner had I read Mzansi Magic by Joe Seshego Latakgomo and Politics of South African football by Alphie Koonyaditse, than Laduma! by Peter Alegi landed on my lap.
While not much different from the other two in that they are all based on the predictable divide-and-play policies of the then apartheid regime, it is the zeroing in on popular clubs like Orlando Pirates, Moroka Swallows and Durban Bush Bucks that brought the book to life for me.
The first part in all three books is basically the same; numerous abbreviations and statistics that, while showing the amount of research done, can also be confusing and frustrating to a casual reader.
Once one has negotiated oneself through that cumbersome but necessary background of ABCFM, SAIFA, SONREIS, JAFA, JBFA, ODBFA, SAAFA, SABFA and so on and so forth, then one gets into interviews with real people and the story unfolds in an entertaining manner and becomes enjoyable. My problem with it, though, is that the caption for the cover picture talks about action in a game between Orlando Pirates and Black Swallows played on November 3, 1975 - I don't recall a team by the latter name and neither did some of my old-school colleagues.
Had the two other authors mentioned earlier not written books on the history of the beautiful game in the country, it was going to be a sad indictment on us that it took a white male university researcher from Italy working in the US to do it for us.
Barring small oversights, the book is a welcome addition for the good of the local game and future generations.