In 1990 they weren’t called ‘the Sharks’: it was ‘Natal’. If memory serves it had been a difficult Currie Cup season for Natal. They won some, lost some, were by turns great and awful. Nothern Transvaal (‘the Bulls’, for those of you born only recently), by contrast had been in awesome form, smashing all opposition (including Natal in the first-round match). Unsurprisingly, Northern Transvaal were to play in the Currie Cup final at Loftus. Surprisingly, their opponents turned out to be Natal.
I was working at Unisa – in Pretoria, the beating blue heart of Northern Transvaal Rugby. Every morning we adjourned to a tea-room for a bit of refreshment and informed (read ‘one-eyed’) commentary on last Saturday’s Northerns victory, or next Saturday’s impending ditto. As the final drew near, and Natal somehow squeaked into contention, the commentary became vitriolic. How could it be, my colleagues enquired, that the system could match the magnificent Pretoria Machine against the no-hopers from the Coast? How was it possible the SARFU did not see the necessity for calling-off the so-called ‘Final’ and awarding the trophy to Northern Transvaal as their just reward for a magnificent season?
Teatime on the Friday before the match was particularly difficult for me: I was a known Natal supporter and no punches were pulled to spare my feelings. It was loudly and repeatedly speculated that Northern Transvaal would win by a points-differential of 100 or more. I kept my head down and said nothing: privately I suspected that they might be right.
Well, history has a funny way of twisting things. In the dying moments of the match Tony Watson scored a try for Natal, and was late-tackled in the in-goal area by Gerbrand Grobler. Joel Stransky goaled the conversion and the Ref then awarded a penalty on the centre-spot for the late tackle. Stransky goaled that also, to win the match.
On the following Monday I received a standing ovation in the tea-room. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I was wearing a Natal jersey.
Sharksworld would like to thank petedylan (so named ‘cos he’s my dad!) for submitting this piece. Remember guys – we’re always looking for stories to publish, so please, if you feel at any literary leanings whatsoever, please send in the results!