Hey, Soccer-Laduma readers, this week Moroka Swallows legend Andries ‘Six Mabone’ Maseko joins us. We’ve all heard about those great South African skills of the old days and how Ace Ntsoelongoe was a master at the art of using them. Now Andries has a really great story for us about Ace and a rough and tough defender who wanted to ‘kill’ him. But which player came off second best? Read on and you’ll find out!
Peter: Ace Ntsoelengoe, alive and kicking.
Ace: Cool and howdy.
Peter: Ace, where’s Banksie today?
Ace: No, you know how some readers asked for guests from other clubs as well. So this week I’ve got a surprise. Remember when we spoke about how your surname had to start with an ‘M’ in order to play for the Moroka Swallows team?
Ace: Well, I’ve got the main man, the big ‘M’ himself, Andries ‘Six Mabone’ Maseko as our guest this week.
Peter: Hey, Andries, howzit, man?
Andries: Ha, ha, great to be with you and Ace, and talking to the Soccer-Laduma readers, only I miss my old pal, Banksie.
Peter: Next time we’ll have Banks as well. Ok, Ace, what’s the story?
Ace: Okay, Andries, you’ve got the stage.
Andries: Peter, I’ve got a great story about Ace in America.
Ace: Oh, no!
Andries: Oh, yes, ha, ha. It was when I was playing for San Jose Earthquakes and Ace was with Minnesota Kicks. We used to play at a small stadium. It only held 18 000 supporters but it was full every week. We had a very good team, even the great George Best played for us.
Peter: George Best, now there was a big party animal. Shame, he’s almost died from all the booze.
Andries: Yes...you know, he regularly missed training sessions and games because of the women and drinking. If he was drinking and there were women around, then he never knew what time or what day it was. He just did his thing. But he was a lovely Irishman. A nice guy.
Peter: Well, tell us about the other nice and naughty guy - Ace.
Andries: Yes...Ace was Minnesota’s star player and our team had this very big tough defender from Yugoslavia called Nicky Nicolic.
Ace: Ha, ha, I remember this one.
Peter: Go on.
Andries: Ja, Nicky was a giant. Plus, he was crazy - a madman. He’d kill his own grandmother to win the ball. Nicky took no prisoners. So, when we had a team talk, the coach told Nicky that Ace made Minnesota tick. Ace was the playmaker, the fantasy player and our coach said that Nicky must man mark him out of the game.
Peter: What did you think, Andries, when you heard the coach instructing Nicky Nicolic?
Andries: I thought oh-oh. In a way, I felt sorry for Ace because I knew Nicky was rough, tough, bad and crazy. But I also knew that Nicky had never come across a player like Ace. You know, someone with very special South African skills. He had never been exposed to South African talent. I knew Ace would be able to frustrate Nicky and I also knew that this could lead to an explosion. A part of me wanted to see Ace do well but because I wanted us to win, I also wanted Nicky to do well.
Andries: Ask Ace.
Ace: Ha, ha...I didn’t know who the guy was. He was just following me all over the pitch, man marking me. But I was used to that, I was often man marked. This guy was swearing though, threatening me in broken English. All the time. One thing I can say though is that he was the biggest guy I’d ever had marking me. He was huge and he looked mad. I looked into his eyes...they were crazy.
Peter: Oh-oh, trouble ahead...fireworks.
Ace: The ball came to me next to the touchline and I did this unique South African trick when I put my foot over the ball. You know when the pass comes to you and you make your foot go to the ball and that sends your opponent the wrong way.
Peter: Ha, ha, yes.
Andries: And Nicky fell for it - hook, line and sinker. He was so badly deceived that he ended up out of play and Ace was flying goalwards. The whole crowd laughed, even though Nicky was a home team player.
Peter: And what did Nicky do?
Ace: He went mad - crazy. He started marking me even more closely, swearing and punching me at every opportunity. He was screaming in Yugoslavian, English and every language he knew. No matter what language it was, I knew he was angry. He said he was going to kill me.
Andries: But you know what Ace did 10 minutes later?
Peter: No, what?
Andries: The next time Ace got the ball, he nutmegged Nicky and the whole crowd started laughing again. As he came for Ace, he aimed a big kick but Ace dummied him beautifully and he again fell over the touchline and off the field.
Peter: Big trouble!
Ace: Ha, ha, oh yes. Hell, man, he went crazy. Something inside me told me to quickly pass the ball and look around. The next thing I saw this crazy man, who looked even huger than the giant he already was, screaming in every language that he was going to kill me and then kill me again. He was going beserk! I had no choice but to run for my life.
Andries: Ja, and because Nicky was so big, no one could stop him - we were all too scared. Ace ran like a young buck, straight to the bench. Lucky for Ace, the police were there and it took the whole lot of them to stop Nicky. The cops were big but it took about six of them before they could get Nicky under control. In fact, even before the ref or the coach could do anything, the police took him to the dressing room. You could say the police substituted Nicky!
Peter: And, Ace, what did you do?
Andries: Let me tell you, I looked at Ace...and it’s the only time I’ve ever seen a Black South African look like a White South African. Ace was white, white in the face. He looked like a ghost.
Ace: Hey, of course, man. What do you expect? It was like being chased by a wild, hungry dog. The cops saved my life.
Andries: While the game was carrying on, Nicky was destroying the dressing room in a fit of rage. You’ve heard of road rage, this was dressing room rage! When we went in at halftime, it looked like a war zone. It was wrecked. The police had to take Nicky away and the club suspended him for a long time.
Peter: Incredible. Andries, did you even try to dummy Nicky at training after that?
Andries: Hey, no way, man. I made sure I was always in Nicky’s side at training. I wasn’t taking any risks, ha, ha. I was scared of him...everyone was.
Ace: You know the funny thing was that when we played San Jose at our ground after that, I saw Nicky before the game.
Peter: And what did he do?
Ace: He came up to me and said in his broken English, “Hey, my friend, no nutmeg today, no good, no tricks. Today you must behave, okay.”
Peter: And what happened?
Andries: No, the coach kept Nicky on the bench. Thanks God, ha, ha.
Ace: Ja … ha, ha.
Peter: Unbelievable story, Andries and Ace. In fact, Andries, you’ll definitely be invited back again, until then …
Andries: Let me say it …
Andries: Take it easy … just like Sunday morning.
Ace: Nice … very nice.