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:
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.
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.