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Fidler in the Hood: The Rattle Of A Simple Man

So, to all Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Spurs supporters: eat your hearts out!

GREETINGS, friends. Last week we were enjoying a tropical heatwave, now it’s ‘freezing cold’ (he says tongue-in-cheek). Our ‘cold’ weather has its advantages. Take the weekly parkrun at St Mike’s. I’m sure the ‘nip in the air’ makes us run faster. I was back to my winning ways and achieved my second-best-ever time. Mind you, the numbers were down, probably due to the return of visitors for the Bike Fest and long weekend. No crowded beach, for starters, so we were off to a ‘flying walk’. I still say that the over-60s should be exempt from the beach start. You’re exhausted before the real run takes place.

Tommy Ballantyne

The parkrun is really a ‘fun run’ (fun?) and social highlight for many. Before it starts, everyone is ‘in the mood’, greeting each other. Monica Ratthrass, stalwart of 190 parkruns, was there to menacingly ask ‘Where have you been?’ Chris Cumming, veteran of 70 runs, collared me: ‘Hi. In last week’ news, you mentioned former sports journalist Tommy Ballantyne. Do you know him?’ I replied that indeed I’ve known Tommy for over 50 years.

The history

In fact, it was Tommy who was instrumental in encouraging me to ‘come to Rhodesia’ in 1964. I was working as a ship’s printer on the ‘Northern Star’ and Tommy was a passenger from Southampton to Durban – our mutual interest in football the common denominator. Eventually, after spells in Cape Town and Zambia, I ended up in Salisbury and joined Salisbury Callies Football Club, where Tommy was a well-known player.

Hat-trick hero

Chris Cumming continued “I used to watch Callies quite regularly. In fact, I saw Tommy Ballantyne score a hat-trick for Callies when they played visiting English club Leicester City during their football tour of Southern Rhodesia.” ‘Bicycle’ Ballantyne is the only player ever to score three goals in a game against legendary England goalkeeper Gordon Banks. Chris then recalled the many Salisbury Callies players of the 60s and 70s (who we both knew well). Strange: Chris and I must have surely crossed each other’s paths, as we named all those ‘stars of yesteryear’.

Rough and tough

I had to smile when Chris referred to some of the Scottish players and members of Salisbury Callies. They really were a ‘rough, tough lot’, but a couple of whiskeys down you and the world was o’right. I used to report on matches for the-then ‘Rhodesia Herald’ and was always welcome at the old Callies Sports Club, as long as I reported ‘fairly and accurately’. I think it was the fear of ‘not reporting fairly and accurately’ on Callies matches reminding me I could have been on the receiving end of a ‘Glasgow Kiss’!

Career in the BSAP

Chris, of Umtentweni, now retired, spent his formative years in the old Rhodesia. Born in Johannesburg, Chris, aged one, was whisked away to the ‘old country’, spent his childhood in Gatooma and was educated at Courtney Selous and Churchill schools in Salisbury. He joined the BSAP and made a career in the police force. He finally called it a day and moved to Welkom, Free State, in 1982, to pick up the pieces and start again. Five years later he joined the municipality’s treasury department on the South Coast.

Derek ‘Cheyenne’ Dougan

Chris ‘never misses a Parkrun’ and always finishes about two hours before I cross the line. Prior to setting off, Chris, without fail, singles me out to ‘talk football’, recalling days gone by when he spent time in England as a young man ‘doing his thing’. He even went to the FA Cup Final at Wembley in 1960 to watch Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton Wanderers. That was 58 years ago. My goodness – that was a long time ago! Chris could name many of the players of that day, including Brian Douglas, Ronnie Clayton and Derek ‘Cheyenne’ Dougan. Over the years he has continued his love affair with all things football, but seems to have gone ‘off the rails’ by supporting London club Tottenham Hotspurs. Well, someone has to support Spurs, I guess!

The Coronation

Prior to running off into the sunrise, I mentioned I had quite a number of old photographs from those Salisbury Callies days. If he would like to, why not come over on Sunday and have a look. And thrown into the bargain, he can watch Manchester City being crowned English Premiership champions. But there was a health warning added – Mike Berry, stalwart City supporter par excellence, would be there to celebrate City’s finest hour. Chris needed no second invitation and accepted. So, to all Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Spurs supporters: eat your hearts out! We are the champions! Cry the Beloved Manchester City! Are you listening Wally Williams of Shelly Beach? See you, Rob.

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