Buttigieg- March 2007
at Marist Brothers', St. Henry's, from 1954 to 1961, and there
were, if I recall, not that many boy's high schools in Durban.
DHS, Glenwood, Port Natal, Mansfield, Marist, Northlands and
Tech College were just about the only ones I can remember.
All the Durban boys' schools were strictly rugby and cricket
playing. St Henry's was not a large school in numbers and
in my time could only just muster a 1st XV and 2nd XV Rugby
team and I distinctly remember we never played Port Natal
because they grew beards.
as quite a shock to the St. Henry's principal (Brother Ezekiel)
when one of the Old Boys, the late Des Moran, and his friend
Vic Nardini approached him about allowing St. Henry's to field
a soccer team in the Under 16 Durban Soccer League. This was
sacrilege in a rugby playing school !! I do not know how much
Des had to twist Brother Ezekiel's arm but I remember there
were certain conditions applied. One, the soccer side would
not be supported by the school in any way although we could
train there, but not in public view. The players, if selected
for a rugby team, had to give that preference over soccer
and the team would be allowed to wear the school's blue and
gold colours. Finally, it was over to Des to sort out all
at the time worked for T.W. Beckett (Five Roses Tea) which
had an office in Point Road and he drove an Austin Cambridge
which I think was a "rare" company car in those
days. Des and Vic both had a love of soccer above rugby and,
at the time, Marist Brothers Old Boys in Johannesburg had
one of the best amateur sides in South African football; Marists
in Cape Town was a local household name and, even in Durban,
the old boys fielded sides in the local amateur soccer league.
Des, I think, was trying to get some young blood interested
in the local Marist team.
recall how it came about but Des organized for all those interested
in playing soccer to meet one Friday late afternoon on St
Henry's bottommost field (the fields are layered). We had
just enough players to field one side and so Des duly entered
us in the Under 16 C league although some of us were well
below that age group. It had to be a mixed age group or nothing.
would have to be on a Friday and Des arranged time off work
so that he could get to school by about 3.30 pm. So we used
to kick a ball around until he came and trained us. Vic would
assist him on some occasions and I recall Topper Brown, who
had played professionally in the UK, coming along a couple
of times showing us moves which I still see used today; the
triangle movement where three players move forward passing
the ball in triangle formation.
back, we were greenhorns and had a woeful record, but Des
was never fazed by this as long as we tried. Games were played
at Lord's Ground, mainly, but occasionally we had to play
in outlying areas such as Hillary. To get there, those who
lived out that way or close enough had to make their own way
to the ground. Others, who came from other parts of Durban,
had to meet outside the OK Bazaars in West Street at an appointed
time on the Saturday afternoon and the rule was " if
not on time, the car left".
would squeeze about 8 of us into that Austin, 5/6 in the back,
2/3 on the front seat. It must have been hilarious to others
seeing us bale out at the ground. But somehow we managed.
Occasionally, Des's wife, Flower, would come as well to see
how the side fared but I honestly cannot remember any parents
coming to see us play. We played just for the love of the
game I suppose.
Ground Sport Fields, Old Fort Road Durban, 1957.
St. Henry's Controversial Soccer Team ! Back Row, from
left, Luigi ??, Barry Schonewolf, Jack Waldman, Teddy
Fabre, Kenny Knipe, Mick Parker, Nigel Irvine. Front
row, from left, Gerald Buttigieg, Colin Haughton, Lawrence
Farr, Ronnie Fowler, Norman Taylor.
Click to view enlargement.
photo, which must be unique, was taken in 1957 at Lord's Ground.
In the back ground is the corrugated iron fence which I well
remember ran right round the perimeter. That day we were lucky
as we had one reserve! We often played short. Having no sponsors,
we played in school rugby jersies.
Buttigieg, left, with Des and Flower Moran.
Click to view enlargement.
to start a school team did not last long and, by 1959, it
was all over. Des and I remained friends all the years, even
more so, when we belonged to the same parish in Westville.
We often joked about the team, how badly we fared ( one cup
game against an Under 16A side we lost 16-0!!), but it was
fun. Sadly, Des is no longer with us but the picture above
shows Des and his wife, Flower, when they came to visit me
in the Midlands in 2001.