Flashback: Marc Batchelor and Mark Williams playing for a celebrity 5-a-side soccer team at the Athlone Stadium. Photo: Backpagepix

JOHANNESBURG – Mark Williams tells a story of how he once convinced the staff on an SAA flight to China to upgrade him and Marc Batchelor into first class.

“I had gotten Marc to come join my club in China and I told the stewardesses that the big guy cannot sit cramped when he has a big trial coming up and they duly upgraded us.

“Marc was left in awe by my charming skills and we had a great flight although I had to go into the toilet to eat the Nandos that I had bought before boarding.”

Williams says Batchelor had declined his offer of a share of the meat only to ask for it after they’d had a few to drink.

“He had to go to the toilet to have it,” Williams laughed.

It was not a laughing matter for Williams though that his good friend died in a hail of bullets right in front of his home on Monday night.

“It’s very sad what happened and I hope Marc’s family, who I know very well, find comfort in God. I was with Marc just last week in Fourways. He had called me and said ‘let’s meet for coffee.’ But I said to him ‘Marc I am coloured, invite me for a beer not coffee’. We shared a lot of jokes and reminisced about the past.”

Williams played with Batchelor at Kaizer Chiefs and remembers the big striker as ‘a true professional’.

“Marc always gave his all, be it training or in a game or training. When I invited him to join me in China he was with (Mamelodi) Sundowns and while the Chinese wanted to sign him, Sundowns said they still needed him and he chose to stay with them.

“But we later got to play together when I coached the SA beach football team and, as usual, Marc was a committed player who always gave everything for the team. I was the top scorer and he was the second best when we helped the team qualify for the World Cup.”

Pollen Ndlanya also has fond memories of the blond giant from their days at Chiefs and expressed sadness at the death of the guy who ‘helped me score a lot of goals’.

“We had a great partnership as strikers and Paul Dolezar called us his big animals. I have this memory of a game we played against (Orlando) Pirates in the Rothmans Cup. Batch and I were on fire that day as we beat Pirates 3-1. I scored the first goal, he scored the second and I finished it off. It was a great game.”

Marc Batchelor in action for Kaizer Chiefs. Photo: gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Ndlanya also spoke fondly of Batchelor’s protectiveness: “He always stood up for his teammates and whenever someone would tackle me badly, he would be the first to come up and tell the opposition off.

“The arrogance that he had was mostly because he could not stand losing and he always fought to get the results, sometimes overstepping the rules.”

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Though white and thus in the minority at the club, Ndlanya says Batchelor was never out of place. “He was a very streetwise guy and would actually be the one who initiates outings, often into the townships.

He also loved to tell jokes. It is very sad that a legend of the game like him died the kind of death he did.”



The Star

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