Soccer Laduma’s ‘In Touch’ & ‘Still In Touch’ feature has been a fan favourite for almost two decades in Soccer Laduma’s weekly newspaper.
Millions of readers turn to it first each week to read the crazy stories that Mzansi’s former players tell and to see current soccer stars dish the dirt on their teammates and coaches.
Over the years, together with our readers, we have laughed uncontrollably and gasped with disbelief at stories that have never been told before!
Due to the incredible success and reading pleasure over the years and the timeless nature of this incredible content, Soccer Laduma has dug through the archives to bring back to life some of the gems you may have missed, or simply want to re-read and share with your friends.
This week, we look back to 15 January 2014 in issue number 854, where we caught up with Zane Alexander, where he recalled the early days of his playing career at Cape Town Spurs. He would later move to SuperSport United, where he really came of age. That is also where he said he met a lot of interesting characters, like brothers Edward and Japie Motale, Michael Utting, Gareth Orritt and others. Read on…
Still In Touch With…ZANE ALEXANDER
Zane Alexander made his debut in the professional ranks for Cape Town Spurs as a fresh-faced youngster in 1994 and left for SuperSport United in 1996, where he rose to prominence. His career ended in 2008 after stints with several clubs in the First Division. He reveals, “The problem is that they want youngsters in the First Division, but the clubs need the experienced players to get the youngsters through the system. They need to get the balance right. You see a young player this season and the following season he’s not there, because they earn too much money and don’t get guidance.”
Zane, you started off your career at Cape Town Spurs in 1994...
Yeah! You know what? The other week I was with friends I hadn’t seen in a long time and I was telling them that my football career was like a big party. I played for more than 10 years and it was like a big, long holiday. Randall Borman and I were the youngest players at Spurs and in the two years I was there, 80% of the time we were roommates. When you put two young people together, it’s not a good combination. We knew each other from the national U20 side and we were mad youngsters, ha, ha, ha. I can remember our coach Mich d’Avray was always on our case and used to say, “The two of you will get into trouble!” We used to break curfew and do all sorts of things. He didn’t want us to stay together, but we always somehow found a way to stay together! I played with Reggie Jantjies for one season there and he was one of the senior guys and a mad character. Craig Rosslee, Manny Rodrigues and Sebba Rodrigues were also crazy.
Then two years later you moved to SuperSport United, where you made quite a mark.
Because I was coming from home and a bit young, I really came of age in Pretoria. The late Roger Lupiya was my roommate most of the time, as well as Keryn Jordan, who also passed away recently. But there wasn’t a set roommate because all the guys were comfortable with each other. I used to hang around Chicco Lawrence and Jacobs, whose first name I’ve now forgotten, in Eersterust. I was fortunate to play with a lot of the Bafana Bafana players at SuperSport and I can tell you that Edward and Japie Motale were the biggest characters. There was Michael Utting as well... yho! We also had guys like Gareth Orritt and Nicky Shaw. Marc Batchelor... oh my word! He liked to make fun of other people but didn’t like being made fun of, which is why he ended up head-butting one or two players, ha, ha. He was like a bouncer, you know. What really stood out for me at SuperSport was the sense of friendship at the team.
There must be a few funny incidents to share then!
I can remember one time we went to Ghana and it was just before we got paid. A few of the guys, whose names I’m not going to mention, got some ladies of the night. In the morning the ladies didn’t want to leave - they wanted their money. Because the guys didn’t have money, they started looking around for soccer jerseys and boots to give the ladies, ha, ha, ha. They were running around in the hotel and it was really funny. It wasn’t just one guy... there must have been five or six. Japie always used to make me laugh every morning. We were training next to the Pretoria Technikon. Our physiotherapist, Jacqui McCord (now McCord-Uys), used to get physiotherapy students in their final year at the Technikon to give the guys massages. Japie and Edward used to parade around in the change room in front of those young girls. That used to make me laugh! There was a lot of other stuff that used to happen...
Sure, we’re listening.
Utting was a mad guy. There’s one story about him that I always tell my friends. He phoned me one morning and said, “Zane, let’s go out for brunch.” It was at 10h00. We went out – it was me, my wife, my brother and Utting’s sister. The waitress came and asked, “Anything to drink?” Utting said, “Ja! A round of tequila.” When we left at 12h00, we hadn’t eaten anything, ha, ha, and Utting was vomiting. We drank tequila and beers the whole morning. No starters, nothing. That’s the type of guy he was.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
I was playing in the First Division for FC Cape Town. I was on the bench and came on in the last 15 minutes. We were leading 1-0. I was on the field for 30 seconds when I made a bad tackle and the referee sent me off. Silly, silly, silly! At that time I was 33 and, as I was walking off, the fans said, “Zane, you must start hanging up your boots now.” I was like, “What the f**k!” To make matters worse, the game was on TV. I can still remember the Tuesday after that the guys were teasing me because that tackle was shown on a Monday night soccer show. They told me, “You’re like a leopard that can’t change its spots.”
Were there ever fights between teammates in the heat of the moment?
You had a guy like Batchelor who was aggressive. He was my type of player. He liked to tackle but couldn’t. There were incidents here and there. When you are at a club and you are a senior player, you are always on the backs of the younger guys. We were the old school. Nowadays you don’t get that. Everyone is young. The older guys always wanted respect from the youngsters and there were times we’d tackle them without the ball. I remember Randall was very quick when he started playing for us at Spurs. One time someone passed him the ball, he ran with it and then dribbled Sebba. Sebba turned around and kicked the s**t out of him, ha, ha. He then told Randall, “Don’t try your s**t by me, youngster.” At SuperSport the same thing happened when we were in Ghana. Zach de Beer played for us for a season or two. We were coming through the tunnel just before the game and we noticed the crowd was a bit violent. Batchelor wanted to blow his gasket and then Zach told him, “Batch, relax!” Ha, ha, ha, Batch turned around and punched him. I think he broke his nose! He then said, “You don’t speak to me like that, youngster.” That’s the way soccer was back then. The senior guys drilled it into the youngsters that they must have respect and know their place.
STILL IN TOUCH FUN FACTS:
Best player I’ve ever faced: Roger Feutmba & Ernest Chirwali
Best player I’ve played with: John Moeti
Biggest pay cheque: SuperSport overpaid me after we won the BobSave Super Bowl, but I can’t mention the amount, ha, ha, ha!
Smallest pay cheque: R500
Former team that used the most muti: None
Favourite current player: None
Current occupation: Working for a hardware store that sells building material.
Former teams: Cape Town Spurs, SuperSport United, Avendale Athletico, Vasco da Gama, FC Cape Town