Bobby Chalmers

by Rod Smith

My nephew sent me a whatsapp message in the middle of the night this weekend to tell me the South African soccer icon Bobby Chalmers died.

Jenny, my sister and I, here in the USA, knew it was coming.

For the last decade or so, Jenny, has through mutual friends, built a deep friendship and so she was getting daily updates on Bobby’s condition.

I “knew” him as a soccer star, from the grandstand of Kingsmead.

Even now, I could tell you the details of some of the finest goals I have ever seen and most of them involved Bobby.

Long before I met Bobby through my sister, I knew I’d be in Durban for a week or two and I’d be delivering public lectures and so I published a column challenging two of my soccer heroes to attend.

I asked Bobby Chalmers and Durban City goal keeper George Wooten to extend grace to me and show up for a lunch meeting at The Durban Country Club.

They did.

They arrived together and honored my request.

This was a very powerful moment for me as a man and as a writer. Two of my many heroes were showing up for me because I asked them to.

Thank you, Bobby, you gave hundreds of thousands of soccer fans tremendous joy for many years and may you now know incredible Peace.

2 Comments to “Bobby Chalmers”

  1. I too spent so much time there as an +/-12 year old in the upper 60s, watching these unforgettable supermen of SA football and hanging around the changing rooms, waiting for the autograph book to do the rounds and be returned through the louvre window. United was my team – because Chalmers was the striker – but I recall being in awe of the all. Someone told me that Bobby worked at Bears, and I recall entering the establishment many times (was is Smith or West street?), with the hope of finding him there. There were so many others that inspired me, such as Jim Scott, Budgie, Tony Burns, Tony Macedo, Ronnie Mann (who was a winger prior to deployment as a striker), Vic McKinny, Johnny Haynes, John Smith, and Arthur Lightning. I even saw Stan Matthews come on the field in Durban once! He was an old man, and would have been on for a limited time. Does anyone remember this?

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