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Mandela Day, Footballers in Apartheid and The Norwegian Settlement

DATE: 04.08.2016 - SOCCERVOICE - NEWS - SEASON 2016-17

On the 18th of July celebration of Mandela Day took place. "Madiba" would have been 99 years of age, had he still been with us
 

The previous ANC leader and South African president who spent 27 years in prison, from 1964 to 1999, left us all on the 5th of December 2013. Mandela was awarded the Nobel's Peace Price in 1993, together with the last president in the apartheid regime, Frederick De Clerk.

Segregation was a part of the daily life the way we know Apartheid. This also influenced sports and at the time of this regime football had four different associations based on skin colour. One for white, one for the black, one for Indians and one for the Bantu's.

South Africa was suspended and later excluded from FIFA during this period of time. They had no official national team, since FIFA don't tolerate or accepts Apartheid.

Sir Stanley Rous, president in FIFA from from 1961 to 1974, tried to convince the world of football, through visits in the country, and odd statements, that it would be possible for South Africa to participate.

South Africa was first suspended from all international football in 1963, then in 1976 finally excluded. The were welcomed back in the early 90's after the fall of the Apartheid regime.

British soldiers introduced the sport in the colony and it became very popular. This happened late in the 19th century and it evolved heavilly with most of the country establishing teams and participated in all of the leagues.

The full professional league, NFL was formed, in the year of 1959. Only "White" could play. The NFL grow in popularity and a number of well known players from other nations came to the play as "guests" or with "season contracts".
 

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The NFL management wanted to attract well known players to keep the league popular and get good crowds to come and watch. Especially players from England and Scotland were warmly welcomed, since teams from here were well known and had many South African fans.

Clubs were established in the major cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban. Port Elizabet, East London, Boksburg, Bloemfontein and Pietermaritzburg had their own teams.

The NFL had sponsors such as Coca Cola and BP. This happened long before english leagues and cup's started to have "company names", so South Africa was a leading force in rebranding cup's and league's with company names.

Little or nothing is said or written about the 1966 World Cup winners who played for teams in the NFL. Bobby Moore, Alan Ball, Geoff Hurst, Gordon Banks, Roger Hunt and Bobby Charlton all took part.

A number of former England internationals had shorter og longer "visits". George Eastham, Jeff Astle, Alan Mullery and Johnny Haynes made their appearances, Kevin Keegan and Mike Channon were also "guests", but they came later in 1978 and never competed in the NFL.

A number of Scots also travelled. From the biography of Ian St. John we get an "in view". Close to the end of his time with Liverpool, Bill Shankly calls St. John into his office. Shankly tells him that he has had a phone call from Hellenic manager George Eastham.

Shankly says Eastham is interested in your services and wants you to join his team in Cape Town. You should accept and go down there, you will get the same payment as you have here, 100 a week. St John's accepts the offer.

Ian St. John made 23 appearances for Hellenic during the 1971 season. Hellenic are champions. St John returns for a 2nd season, but this time he signs for Cape Town City.

The import of British players flourish. A number of the players moving out, becomes well established and are today more known for their time in South Africa than in their home countries.

One of them was former West Ham and England forward Johnny Byrne. After his time at Upton Park he had short spells at Crystal Palace and Fulham before making the move to Durban City.

Other former players from "The Cottage", goalkeeper Tony Macado and legendary midfielder Johnny Haynes are also at the club. Johnny Byrne appeared here from 1969 to 1973, in which Durban City wins the league twice.
 

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Little or nothing is written or heard about Bobby Moore's travels to South Africa, but from the "biography" written by Jeff Powell you get a few insides. Moore appeared as a "guest star" for Hellenic FC, where his former team mate, the same Johnny Byrne, had his trade as manager.

Byrne and Moore where good friends. Some evenings they spend together at Signal Hill, on the roof of Cape Town. He they could, according to Jeff Powell, share a couple of beers and talk about "good old days".

Here two former english internationals walked around, having a good time, in the middle of the heart of Apartheid. Below, just outside Cape Town, a certain Mandela was behind bars at the Robben Island. Not a nice picture on my mind.

Joe Frickleton is a former Scottish league player that at young age moved to the NFL. The former Rangers youth player, left East Stirling after their relegation from the top flight in 1964.

Frickleton spent his best years in football, as a player, at Highlands Park. The club based in Johannesburg won the NFL three times during the years of Frickleton. He was a dominating player in the NFL, and later became a succesful manager for South African clubs both before and after that fall of the Apartheid.

Scandinavians also played in the NFL. Danish defender Kai Johansen, known from his time with Rangers, and Icelandic defender Johannes Edvaldsson, best recognised from his days at Celtic, both played in the NFL.

Peter Lorimer and George Best also visited the league. Lorimer played for Cape Town City in 1971. Best made five guest appearances for Jewish Guild in 1974.

Former England manager Roy Hodgson also made the trip "down south", playing for Berea Park. Hodgson combined playing with youth coaching and said in an interview, during his time as England manager, that is was all for footballing reasons, and he had no thoughts about politics.

He also had company of another former legendary manager, Bob Houghton. Houghton and Hodgson never really talked about their time in South Africa, but are more known for their great management in Swedish football.

Hodgson winning the league with "little" Halmstad and Houghton reaching the final of the European Cup with Malmo FF. Both spent time in the "Apartheid regime" to gain experience and get their first chance in the professional game.

Maybe the greatest foreign star of them all in the NFL, might have been Walter Da Silva, who was a great goalscorer in the league with Higlands Park, Hellenic and Berea Park. He scored goals in almost every game played and later also a very succesful coach in the country.
 
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One that also must be menitioned is former Eire coach Eoin Hand. As a player he spent most of his career with Portsmouth, but also experienced life as a professional in NFL. He had spells as a player with Arcadia Shepherds, Lusitano and Port Elizabeth City.

Hand tells his story and he was in the NFL just before the league collapsed. Arcadia Shepherds decided to test the segregation rule introducing a black player. He was, according to Hand, the best player in the team. Vincent Julius was his name.

The league board members decided to let things just slide, since protesting against black players playing, could start a riot. Instead they let this happen at certain clubs, because the players were good and no one protested, but.

Arcadia Shepherd won the league, but Vincent Julius was not welcomed to the party. Hand and a few other teammates decided to leave with Julius and party somewhere else. That was the end for Hand at the club.

Looking at the list of players, you also found a player or two with Norwegian names, Igesund and Bjornstad played in the league. You started to think about emigrants, but most Norwegians left for US, never heard of anyone going to South Africa.

After a bit research, you would be surprised to find the story about around 250 Norwegians travelling down south to start a new life. A Norwegian settlement was established in South Africa, during the end of the 19th century. A number of boats left Norway to find a new life in the Natal province.

The name Igesund appeared on a list of emigrants, moving to South Africa. Gordon Igesunds great grandfather and grandmother were among the 34 Norwegian family settlers in the town of Marburg, just outside Port Shepstone, on the eastern coast close to Durban.

Igesund found his place in football and played in the NFL and in Europe with Austrian side Wacker Innsbruck. Igesund later became one of the best known coaches in South African football. His son Grant played professonal for Ajax Cape Town.

Arne Bjornstad played for Boksburg and Southern Suburbs and never heard of in Norway. He was the top goalscorer in the NFL at one time and a profile in South African soccer.

A number of English clubs such as Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City made "visits" to the country during the "Apartheid" days.

Leicester City set a historical record when they played "All White" Durban City, 27th of May 1961. This was the first time two professional teams from England and South Africa played against each other.

Players were not sanctioned and teams invited could travel to play, they did nothing illegal, but to see so many players and english teams travelling a country banned from FIFA is a question to ask.

After the fall of "Apartheid" sanctions against South Africa were lifted in the early 90's. Mandela became president and was also present at the  World Cup in 2010.
 
 

BRITISH LEAGUE PLAYERS OF IMPORTANCE PLAYING IN THE NFLPFROM

TO

PREDICTION

 

PLAYER

POSITION

MAJOR EUROPEAN CLUB

MAJOR NFL TEAM

PERIOD

 

Johnny Haynes

Midfield

Fulham

Durban City

1970 - 1971

 

Gordon Banks

Goalkeeper

Stoke City

Hellenic

1971

 

Alan Ball

Midfield

Arsenal

Hellenic

1976

 

Geoff Hurst

Forward

West Ham United

Cape Town City

1973

 

George Eastham

Forward

Arsenal

Hellenic

1970 - 1975

 

Bobby Charlton

Midfield

Manchester United

Arcadia Shepherds

1976

 

Peter Withe

Forward

Aston Villa

Arcadia Shepherds

1973

 

George Best

Forward

Manchester United

Jewish Guild

1974

 

Alan Mullery

Midfield

Tottenham Hotspur

Durban City

1976

 

Bobby Moore

Defender

West Ham United

Hellenic

1976

 

Frank McLintock

Defender

Arsenal

Hellenic

1976

 

Tony Macedo

Goalkeeper

Fulham

Highlands Park

1969 - 1973

 

Roy Hodgson

Coach / Player

Liverpool

Berea Park

1973

 

Bob Houghton

Coach / Player

Malmo FF

Berea Park

1973

 

Jeff Astle

Forward

West Bromwich Albion

Hellenic

1974

 

Ian St John

Forward

Liverpool

Hellenic

1971

 

Roger Hunt

Forward

Liverpool

Hellenic

1971

 

Joe Frickleton

Midfield

East Stirling

Highlands Park

1964 - 1974

 

Peter Lorimer

Midfield

Leeds United

Cape Town City

1971

 

Johnny Byrne

Forward

West Ham United

Durban City

1969 - 1973

 

Alan Gilzean

Forward

Tottenham Hotspur

Highlands Park

1974 - 1975

 

Barry Bridges

Forward

Queens Park Rangers

Highlands Park

1974 - 1975

 

Ted MacDougall

Forward

Bournemouth

Jewish Guild

1974


In 1969, more than 150 British players played in the NFL. A great number of Scottish and Englilsh players could continue playing professional in South Africa and payment terms were probably better than back home.

The influence of British footballers were seen as a bit of problem, with more than 9 players in each team, with British passports. But from a business point of view it made great profit and big crowds were entertained.

Later in football we have seen the same phenomena taking place. NASL also made a great number of imports from Britain during the 70's and many of the players in the NFL also played in the NASL.

Britain is well known for establishing "football / soccer" around the World and the imports of "old pro's" from the UK maybe made the path possible to a more domestic game, as we see today in the US and SA.

India is today what we can compare with the NASL and NFL, heavilly influenced by "old pro's" from the UK and based on much of the same platform looking for establishment, a number of "big names" and "money" as a great trigger for players to move out.

Check our news and interesting articles, live updates, and of course don't miss twitter watch.

There is always a new webmag available, and don't miss our first page stories and our three tv channels on show.
 

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