What’s in a name?

a month ago

By Kabelo Mollo

I have said before that my favourite thing about South African football is the character thereof. Even when the football is mediocre there are elements that can make the game interesting.

I remember watching a dull game between my team (Iwisa – for you nt. Kolobe) Kaizer Chiefs and Jomo Cosmos. I don’t remember the result, nor do I remember anything magical in the game save for this brilliant piece of commentary by the legendary Zebulon Zama Masondo.

Rudolf “Gardener” Seale was marking Lawrence “Maria Maria” Siyangaphi. The master on the mic told us “wathi Siyangaphi, athi Seale” it was brilliant! ZZ’s moment of brilliance means that game is forever etched in my memory.

Then there are the awesome nicknames associated or given to South African players. In my experience the best players are given the best nicknames. The better the nickname, the more likely it is to stick well beyond the players playing days too. I am a loyal Kaizer Chiefs fan for my sins so will easily remember some of my favourites. I was a young boy when I discovered such luminaries as Trevor “Triple K: Kae Kapa Kae” Mthimkhulu. He played alongside “Umunt’ angalahlwi” Manyathi in the same team as “DD/Ace” Khuse. Also in that team was my favourite local footballer ever “16V/16Vula Vala” Khumalo and dribbling wizard “Shakes” Khungwane. I have the most vivid memory of screaming “AAAAACE” or ” SHAAAAKES” every time either one of them got the ball. Ah, and how could I forget “RHOO” Radebe who went on to become “The Chief” at Elland Road in Yorkshire. Before them there were greats such as “Stuff rider” Mofokeng or “Computer” Lamola. How about 16V’s father who was simply called “Pro” Khumalo. The greatest footballer I never got to see is “Ace” Ntsolengoe who’s full nickname included the description “mabhekaphansi njengazambane”. He played in a team that had another legend in “Teenage” Dladla. I’m told as a combination they were unplayable.

There are some other legends who may not have played for the big two teams. “Jingles” Mosimane who’s gone on to become the top local coach in the country and a champions league winner. “Jazzy Queen” Legodi too.

At arch rivals Pirates there were some equally masterful nicknames like “Potsotso” Makhanya, “Sense of knowledge/Sense” Lekwane, “Legs of thunder” Skosana, “Ma Gents” Motale,”Hola Mpinchi” Ntsunda and “Stability Unit” Lane. “Tebza ngoana” inherited his nickname “Chippa” from his old man Percy Moloi. While the “Black Prince” uMatsilela Jomo Sono also merits a mention.

There are some people who’s nicknames go on to become their names in daily life. The Free State’s first citizen is commonly known as “Ace” Magashule. In fact, hearing somebody refer to an Elias Magashule might elicit such a reaction as “who?!” While in circles not far removed is a legendary big brother of mine known as “Mathaithai” for his ball juggling wizardry in his hey day. I can tell you he’s not lost any of his skill, pace or power. He shouldn’t be playing Sunday league! Mosiua Lekota is also commonly known as “Terror”. His footballing exploits followed him through Robben island and beyond. Even as an MP he remains a Terror!

In rugby Pieter du Randt remains lovingly known as “Os”. In fact many will not even know that his name is Pieter. Just as one Wessel Johannes Cronje, our late former cricket captain was Hansie to all and sundry.

These nicknames are so much a part of our history as fans and supporters. They are part of the reason we are sports mad. Let’s hope the next generation of “House on fires” and “Go man Gos” will live up to their names.