Soccer hero…..

by Rod Smith

Two days ago I was talking to my sister who lives in Durban and she causally mentioned that Bobby Chalmers had just arrived for a cup of tea.

I really don’t like the casual ways she throws around the name of my childhood hero.

She says “Bobby Chalmers is at the door” and my knees weaken and I hear stadiums of adoring fans applauding his winning goal against Durban United or Highlands Park.

At 62 I am still stuck by the power that South African soccer had over me as a boy.

Certain men lived in my inner-hall of fame: Bobby, Alan Varner, and George Wooten were tops. Henry Hauser, Les Salton, Vernon Wentzel and Trevor Gething would certainly have occupied similar status except that they played for Addington and Durban United and other lesser teams.

My developing brain could not adore players who wore anything but the blue and white jerseys with the red trimmed sleeves.

So, Bobby came on the phone and I asked about his finest moment in soccer.

With characteristic humility he said it was simply playing the game. I pushed him. He said it was in 1964 when Les Salton set him up to score two goals against Real Madrid while playing for “South African 11” securing a loss of 5-2.   

Now I can casually say things like…..”When Bobby Chalmers and I were chatting on the phone the other day…….”

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