A man blew kisses at the screen at the Jolly Roger in Parkhurst on Saturday afternoon. He stood up, one of the few black men in the pub, and rained love upon Orlando Pirates as they stumbled and then strode towards the Absa Premiership title.
Pirates scored. Again. Their fourth goal. A belter. And he shrieked with delight. But it was a replay. The barmaid at the Jolly, wearing a Chelsea shirt, jumped for joy and then sulked when I explained the concept of delayed television replays to her. No fourth goal. No security. Pirates needed to win to win the league; Swallows needed them to lose or draw and for them to win. It was the highest drama; SuperSport flicking between images; the fella at the Jollly roaring sweet joy at a perceived victory that eventually came to pass. He blew more kisses at the screen; two young white guys joined him at his table – more, I reckon, because they wanted his table than because they liked him – and they drank to the success of Pirates. He staggered out a little while after Pirates had won, denying Gordon Igesund the chance of another title. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – why is this man not the coach of Bafana? He wins. With different clubs. He understands local players and the conditions; he adapts and he loves the game. Perhaps he just doesn’t know the right people. It’s an utter disgrace.
If only others loved the game as much. The Absa PSL is not the greatest product. It fails on more than one level. The quality is poor, the team owners are too up their own backsides to care, there are too many off-shoot competitions and players believe in their own press. The hype around Teko Modise is just one of many examples – one footed wonder that he is. But, the PSL has improved as a product this year. It has become watchable…unless you live north of the N1 in Joburg.
On Saturday afternoon, just as the Pirates-Arrows-Swallows-PMB extravaganza was underway, I received a tweet from Nkwadi Rangata with a question: “@KevinMcCallum any good pub showing local soccer games. so disappointed. all pubs @ leaping frog have explicitly decided not to show any.” I was confused. There was nothing else on in terms of “white” sports, but the pub – the Brazenhead in Fourways – was, according to Rangata, showing the England-West Indies cricket and golf instead. “@KevinMcCallum it is the league decider for heaven sake.Soccer is the biggest sport in the country. Unthinkable; people decide to not show it.” I replied, telling him to ask the management to show the game in case they had forgotten: “@KevinMcCallum they won’t budge. owners specifically demanded that there be no local soccer. to think brazenhead is my favourite pub.”
I told him I was watching at my girlfriend’s place flicking between channels. He replied, sad: “@KevinMcCallum i will go home as well. disappointed.” Then added: “@KevinMcCallum have seen about 6 groups of pirates fans turned away. in the 10minutes I was there. Each group consisting of about 4people.” I said that it sounded racist to me. He was more forgiving.
“@KevinMcCallum calling it racist is stretching it. #brazenhead leapingfrog. they are showing eng wi test and golf. they are not chasinganyone away.if you want to watch soccer & they tell you they will only show soccer when #cfc plays. what choice is there?”
I gave him the choice of getting to the Radium Beer Hall and the Jolly, but both were a long way away from him in Fourways. One of my oldest friends – Craig Hale – picked me up and we sat in the Jolly, watching a man, drunk as drunk could be, loving and celebrating his team’s win. The Jolly, mostly white, celebrated with him.
We live in a country that is still, in places, stuck in the past. The Jolly and the Radium have embraced their future, but others haven’t. The Brazenhead in Fourways has ignored my tweets, believing, perhaps, that it is their right to show what they want. It is. It would not have hurt them to show the PSL showdown, there was nothing else “white” on at the time – no rugby and no Pom footie – but they ignored a regular client because they do not show PSL. They lost out on some good money. Black dudes love a drink as much as white bras. Rangata feels it wasn’t racist – I think he’s wrong. It was. They are South Africans. In a South African bar. In South Africa. What other reason could there be not to show the PSL but to ignore black patrons? Brazenhead?