posted in: Mini Memories 19

My regular informant John Taylor recently sent in a couple of contributions on the subject of The Flames and on soccer in Durban. He wrote, firstly:

Hi Allan,
I was given a book for Christmas entitled Life by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones fame. On page 565 it states “Rob Fraboni had introduced me to Blondie, real name Terence Chaplin……and Blondie came along to do some extra work in the studio. He’s from Durban. His father is Harry Chaplin who was a top banjo player in South Africa…together with Ricky Fataar, the drummer who works a lot with Bonnie Rait, and Ricky’s brother, Blondie had a band called the Flames. They were the biggest band in South Africa in spite of the fact that Blondie was classified as coloured with the rest of his band, though he passed as white in other respects. Such was apartheid.”

I and my mates spent many pleasant hours at the Al Fresco Terrace on the Esplanade quaffing beer and listening to the Flames (Steve, Ricky, and Brother Fataar, and Blondie Chaplin.) Although this was over 40 years ago, I’m sure that many Durbanites in my age group also have memories, and would like to share their memories.
John Taylor

And secondly, he wrote:

I am a committed rugby fan and former player – my wife Gail is the HR Manager at the Sharks and is pushing 20 years’ service at this legendary rugby franchise.

It wasn’t always like this. In the late 1950’s early 1960’s my late father and I were ardent soccer spectators, especially when the National Football League came into being and Durban City, Durban United, and later Addington competed. Matches took place on Sunday mornings at Old Kingsmead (City), Hoy Park (United), and later New Kingsmead on the site of the current Moses Mabhida stadium.

Despite apartheid being strongly in force at the time there was a huge fan base amongst the non-white population, especially for Durban City who could expect at least a 50% non-white gate, mainly from the Indian community. I recall that Kathrees provided the PA system and also a prize for the lucky program number.

Some notable players from this era are as follows. Please pardon omissions, and perhaps contributors can fill in the gaps. Also I’m talking about the “originals” and not the host of the over the hill largely British player invasion of a few years later.

Les Salton, Danny Le Roux, Marty Deetlifs, Ken Denysschen, Lionel Williams, George and Brian Barratt, George Ryder, Clive Barker (City), and of course the irrepressible Bobby Chalmers. Bobby’s late wife Audrey was my secretary for some years, and his late daughter Sharon also worked with me. I saw Bobby a few years ago, and although now over 70 years of age displays a physique of a man many years younger. I guess that when it comes to Durban City, mention has to be made of manager Norman “Silver Fox” Elliot, who I’m told once dated my mother in law! Fred Zackey, Brian and Keith Peterson, Gordon Stewart, Ivan Bonorchis, Gary Ennis, Errol and Ronnie Mann (United); Vernon Wentzel, Neville Walters, George Spencely, Morrie Jacobsen, Henry Hauser, Spanner Hartman, Jerry Gibson, Clyde Borland (Addington).

My enduring memory is when Durban City took on English premier division team Leicester City at Old Kingsmead. Les Salton fired a rocket shot at the Leicester goal which 99% of the time would be unstoppable, except that in goal was one Gordon Banks, who brought off a great save. This was the same Gordon Banks who, when England played Brazil in the World Cup a few years later, brought off another stupendous save from a shot by a no less eminent player than Pele.

New Kingsmead was essentially designed as a cricket ground to take over from Old Kingsmead. I don’t recall that top class cricket was ever played there, and more than 50 years later Old Kingsmead still exists as an international quality ground. Perhaps in the archives, or from a contributor the story behind this can be told.

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19 Responses

  1. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi John
    Do a SEARCH on FAD on “New Kingsmead” there is some info already on the site.

  2. John Taylor
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald,
    Yes, I did a search and looked at the interesting info that you previously posted. What intrigues me is the decision by the municipality to design New Kingsmead as a cricket stadium with the inherent cost thereof, and then eventually do an about turn with the restoration of Old Kingsmead. I distinctly recall the first time I watched soccer at the newly opened New Kingsmead, and there was a cordoned off area in which a cricket pitch had been laid. I guess that unless someone from that era can provide information, the reasons for the turnabout will be locked away in the municipal archives.

    • Sally Byram

      Hi Guys,

      I am Gordon Stewart’s daughter and have loads of Durban city/durban united/parlkhill photo’s and newspaper clippings if anybody is interested in them

  3. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    I agree with you regarding the New Kingsmead stadium ending up a white elephant. It never was a success and as far as I know an official cricket test was never played there. I cannot remember how long the National Football League lasted but one of the death knells probably was the introduction of TV (circa 1976) and at the same time the Sports Boycott. There seemed to be an element in the then Durban Council that wanted to develop that area as an “all sports” venue. If you think of it Cycling, Athletics, Archery, Rugby were accommodated in the area followed by Cricket / Soccer and later still Swimming. From what I understand, the stands were too far away from the field of play and there was nothing that an easy fix could fix. I think the few times I did go to the Stadium was to watch the Durban Tattoo. Regarding Old Kingsmead I think there was a sentimental resolve to save an old institution. I cannot recall exactly when the face changing upgrade, that exists today was done, probably
    1990s but if one thinks about it, it was cheaper than demolishing or altering the New Kingsmead stadium. New Kingsmead virtually lingered on till the Moses Mabida decided it fate.

  4. John Taylor
    | Reply

    Thanks Gerald. I stopped watching NFL soccer once local talent was sacrificed for a horde of overseas players, largely British, looking for a last payday because they could no longer make it in the UK or Europe. I also attended the military tattoos held at New Kingsmead in the mid eighties. Even then the stadium was tatty and rundown.

    • Marann

      The horde of overseas players were not crippples. They did a lot of good to raise the game in South Africa and so would draw the crowds to Kingsmead making it more exciting!

  5. Richard Holmes
    | Reply

    The Tattoos were held at Kingsmead not New Kingsmead

  6. John Taylor
    | Reply

    Sorry Richard, definitely New Kingsmead as well. They even held one or two across the road at Kings Park.

  7. Richard Holmes
    | Reply

    O – sorry – meant Kings Park – duh

    I worked there for every one held at Kings Park – but don’t recall them at the soccer stadium

  8. John Taylor
    | Reply

    Hi Richard,
    I attended a tattoo at New Kingsmead in either 1984 or 1985. Definitely there because this was the first time I’d been there since giving up watching soccer in the sixties, and I noticed how run down the place was even then.

  9. Claudette Irvine
    | Reply

    HI Gerald would you be able to let me know if Les Salton is still alive,Im living in Canada ,my brother was his apprentice on the Durban Corporation many years ago,I tried to contact Beatrice who late hubby was Clive Borland to ask her if she knew but have been unable to ,also asked Mureen Muller her uncle was late Reg Wright she also did not know,hope I did not inconvenience you .Thankyou Claudette

  10. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Claudette,
    Yes Les (Sykes) Salton passed away a few years ago. I recall seeing some tribute to him in the paper. I will try and get you the date of this passing. Les, Danny le Roux and Reg Wright had a sports shop on the 60s/70s at 325 Pine Street. Les worked previously for the Dbn Corp. but not quite sure which section. Not many of those soccer players of that era are still alive. In today’s Sunday Tribune, 31st August 2014, there is a death notice for another, Kenny Denysschen, the well known Natal soccer player. He was a full back if I remember. He played for South Africa and Durban City. He worked for the Dept of Posts and Telegraphs as a technician in the Carrier Room at Durban Central Exchange. I met him there when I was still a pupil technician and spent a training period in that section. A very quiet and unassuming person if I recall. Also in today’s paper a memorial notice for Keith Oxlee, who passed away 16 years ago today. Two local sports greats.

    PS. I looked on the internet and came across this article by Michael Tarr which confirms Les’s passing.

    City ‘legend’ Williams dies

    August 17 2009 at 11:40am
    By Michael Tarr

    Tributes have been pouring in following the death of one of South Africa’s finest soccer players, who died last week at the age of 77.

    Lionel Williams, who hit the headlines when he was first picked to play for Natal and then South Africa as a defender in the early 1950s, came into his own when he became a professional and joined Durban City when the National Football League was formed in 1959.

    It was a team built by legendary soccer chairman Norman Elliott and went on to dominate the NFL for two decades, their rivalry with Durban United, Highlands Park and other top teams producing classic matches at Hoy Park and then New Kingsmead, which was later demolished to make way for the Moses Mabhida Stadium in time for next year’s 2010 World Cup.

    Danny le Roux, a lifelong friend of Williams, who was with him in the City team of 1959 until 1962, yesterday paid tribute to a player he has known since they first met in 1950.

    “We both started our careers playing for that great amateur club Queens Park in 1950. We used to play at Albert Park. He was full back and right half and I was on the right wing and we combined fantastically.

    “I remember when, in 1958, I had joined Arsenal in the English First Division and Lionel got picked to play for South Africa on a tour of England. They played all the top teams and did very well. He played many times for SA.

    “Lionel was, without doubt, one of the classiest defenders in the country and I have no doubt he would have been among the world’s best had he gone overseas. I remember clearly a game in 1952 when Newcastle toured South Africa. They had just won the FA Cup and played a Natal team at the Oval in Pietermaritzburg. They had a fantastic winger called Bobby Mitchell and Lionel marked him out of the game. Afterwards Bobby came up to Lionel and told him that he was the toughest opponent he had played against,”said Le Roux.

    Le Roux said that Williams’s strengths was his anticipation, ability to head the ball well and his passing.

    “I don’t think I ever saw a pass go astray, unlike today’s players,” said Le Roux, who is still a fanatical Arsenal supporter.

    “Lionel could also come up with some great goals and in one match against Callies he hit a screamer from about 40 yards. He was good with both feet.”

    Williams is yet another member of the famous Durban City sides to have died. Others who have passed away are Les Salton, Bobby Howe, Richie Moffatt and Marty Deetlifs.

    The funeral for Williams, who is survived by three sons, takes place at the Assumption Parish, corner of ZK Mathews (Nicholson) Rd and Sphiwe Zuma (Queen Mary) Ave, at 11am on Wednesday.

  11. Jessica Salton
    | Reply

    Les passed away in 1993. I can put you in touch with my gran (his wife), if you still looking?

  12. Logan
    | Reply

    Those were the days, my friends! Pleasant memories. indeed. However , it does leaves me with much sadness in that we treated blacks and others who were not white, so badly. Those days have passed but the deleterious effects of apartheid lives on. Of course, not everybody who was white should be held accountable for such evil practices allowed under apartheid system. A significant number of whites abhorred the system and showed their repugnance for it. Examine the list of whites whose opposition to the system in various ways led to the Nationalist government’s onslaught against them. I did what I could to show my repulsion for it. Eventually, I left S. Africa to live in USA. I am now married to an American who regarded apartheid ” the modern day slavery.” I have to add that USA is not a perfect society. Prejudice and discrimination is still prevalent and wreaks havoc on lives of many. But, I am glad that S.Africa has made admirable progress towards equality, irrespective of colour. God bless you all in S.Africa. I long to return to the land of my birth.

  13. Chris Charlesworth
    | Reply

    Just purchased the new DvD/CD by Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys. Both Ricky Fataar & Blondie Chaplin appear. They are both as wrinkled as us. They are currently touring the UK with Brian. The only tickets remaining are £100 each. They’ve done well for themselves.


  14. Dave Lee
    | Reply

    Played for west rand united and brothers 1963/64 seasons before returning to scotland.the durban teams of that era were full of great players ,les salton,danny le roux ,henry Hauser,Brian Peterson .ex springboks that I played alongside with included les fourie ,fred zackey,laurie metzer.sorry to hear about the passing of some of the stars of that time I know that clyde borland passed away in his prime some info on that would be appreciated a great player in that fine team that was addington f c

    • Debra James

      Any chance you remember Harry Williams from Brothers / West Rand United – played for them early 60’s. I am trying really hard to trace Harry and would love any info that could point me in his direction. (debjames1509@gmail.com).

  15. Morris Pillay
    | Reply

    Silver fox. I supported…Durban City.

  16. Barry Ian Sanders
    | Reply

    Durban City were the first National Football League champions,winning the inaugural competition in 1959.Durban City also played against Club Atletico Cerro,from Uruguay ,on the 14th July,1963.Regarding Debra James who looking for information of Harry Williams.I found & posted some photos of Harry Williams,on a football page where Debra James saw them.

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