Finding ourselves with a few hours in hand the Longhair and I popped in to see the old Boet Erasmus Stadium. In a nod to the millions poured into the stadium and rugby we must also remember that the stadium was renamed Telkom Park. I am sure that you will agree with me, though that ‘Battle of the Boet’ has a better ring to it than ‘Battle of the Telkom’ or even ‘Battle of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium’!
Much like our present Currie Cup dreams the old Boet Erasmus Stadium lies in tatters as our City Fathers contemplate how to spin their way out of one more legacy of the 2010 World Cup lies.
Poking around in the ruins of the Boet we even found an old cheque book with all the stubs intact which we left to lie in it’s grave. I can remember two significant cheque amounts though – one to L. Watson for R142.07 and one to the Postmaster for R18 0000 odd.
Our rugby dreams of glory foundered on the headland of greed in the 90’s and it seems as though that ship will never sail again. I well remember stomping on the touchlines from 2004 – hoping that in some small way the support from MyPE would help return Eastern Province rugby to the heights. We media were three, then four, then more as we saw Cheeky Watson take over and Alan Solomons begin his tenure.
But the big problem is MONEY – many is the month that the local outfit scrambled to pay players and loyal staff. Many is the time that players that give Eastern Province stature and political legitimacy have left the province attracted by more money and the promise of playing in the higher leagues. All the time Eastern Province is derided by other provinces for their lack of ‘transformation’ – what these provinces conveniently forget is that they buy players (especially players of colour) that were developed by Eastern Province.
To it’s credit SARU is now trying to open the floodgates of development in this region, BUT, it is 20 years too late – these initiatives should have started in primary schools at least 15 years ago and the long term view should have been a 20 year one. Much like our education system but that is a subject for debate on another day. Show me a hard nosed sponsor willing to take a 15 year position on their funds? I find it hard to think of any one business prepared to take such a gamble on supporting development and getting a sufficient measurable return. Consider all the priorities that government has and one soon realises that sport development as a drain on taxpayer funds is extremely low down on the list. So, what does the supposedly savvy politician do? Try and legislate development and make it someone else’s problem – a distinctly short term solution. Politicians and people in general need to learn that the carrot works far better than the stick.
Currently the EP Kings are bottom of the Premier Division Currie Cup Log with no chance of being relegated to the First Division next year – which reminds me, can we not call a spade a spade and return to First and Second Division? Contrary to popular belief rugby fans are not stupid and SARU are not fooling anyone with these stupid names. Okay, I admit, I was confused for a bit.
We are off the hook for this season but if we do not find a sufficiently deep pocketed benefactor before the commencement of next season Eastern Province rugby will stay in the vicious downward spiral of no money and no players.
Absa Currie Cup log:
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