Hope in strange places…

Written by Martin van Niekerk (vanmartin)

Posted in :Bulls, Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 24 May 2011 at 18:13
Tagged with : , ,

I live in Bull’s country. In case I somehow forget this fact there are handy reminders everywhere I go.  The stickers, slogans and plastic blue testicles adorning the back of every other vehicle driving around, the flags proudly flown from any vertical structure that can still be accessed when you’re sporting  a typical 250 pound frame (with mandatory ‘boep’ of course) and never forgetting the entire extended families gracing our malls and churches over weekends dressed in their matching blues. All the way from Ouma down to the illegitimate great-grandson.

So when I set out to watch the SAAF Museum’s air show this past Saturday at Swartkop Airfield I was expecting the usual sea of blue. My suspicions seem to be confirmed when we met up with my father-in-law early that morning – he was already donning his beloved Bull’s cap (thank goodness his daughter is a Shark’s fan).

Swartkop Airfield was packed by 10AM when we finally made our way through the parking nightmare and queues at the entrance. If there’s one common interest I seem to share with my fellow Pretorians (or Tshwanians if you so prefer) it’s a love for those magic flying hunks of metal. Faster than your cousin’s Uno Turbo barrelling down Voortrekker Road, thousands of people had pitched up to see the ‘vlamgatte’ contribute to (and probably speed up) global warming.

We were on our way to our seating when I first spotted one of those beautiful Black and White shirts. Brave I thought – the poor guy would be enduring a surprisingly nasty winter sun and a continuous string of insults throughout the day. The shirts tend to attract both in equal amounts up in these parts.  Our chosen vantage point turned out to be smack bang in the middle of a group of smokers who seemed very anxious to prove that they could contaminate our clear blue skies much faster than a puny internal combustion engine delivering roughly 18 000 pounds of thrust.

As my wife and I escaped from the haze we noticed another Black and White shirt and then another. In the space of 10 metres I counted 4 fellow Sharks supporters. I was amazed and decided to keep ‘score’ from then on. Based on the five hours we spent there in total, the Black and White’s outnumbered their Bulls counterparts by a ratio of 3 to 1. This in the very heart of blue-collar Pretoria! I was beyond proud and gave the approving nod – a sign of mutual admiration and recognition amongst the fellow brothers-in-arms up here – whenever I had the opportunity.

I don’t mind admitting that this is all very subjective and I obviously didn’t spot every shirt wearing rugby fan on the day. And yes, the Bull’s fans are actually a pretty decent bunch (most of them anyway) but that’s not the point of this article. The point is this – there’s a fair amount of comfort to find in my impromptu survey on Saturday when reflecting on our loss that same evening. It says a lot about a team when they manage to draw this sort of support from a part of South Africa where people make their fortunes by writing songs about the eating habits of the Bulls’ team members.

Perhaps it allows us the faintest amount of hope that this is a team that can still pull it together like they did at the business end of last year’s Super 14? They have the personnel and their fate is still (to a degree) in their own hands. Failing that, hopefully it inspires us to keep on supporting through the bad times and the good.

And finally if you just can’t manage hope right this instant – never forget to be thankful that there are no black and white plastic ‘appendages’ for sale.


  • awesome arti, van! Thanks for this

  • Comment 1, posted at 24.05.11 18:15:17 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Lekke read vanman, hope in black and white will always be there. And yae, glad sharks have non hanging….. 🙂

  • Comment 2, posted at 24.05.11 18:48:59 by franshark Reply
  • A much needed spot of sunshine: thanks bud!

  • Comment 3, posted at 24.05.11 18:56:48 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @robdylan (Comment 1) : Hi Rob I met an awesome player today and wondered if you could do an interview with Shannon Rick? His a Sharks sevens player and provincial sevens seldoms gets exposure on the net 😉

  • Comment 4, posted at 24.05.11 18:57:45 by Mocho Reply

  • Good stuff. Thanks VanMan. Good to know p
    Pretoria is filled with such great people! 🙂

  • Comment 5, posted at 24.05.11 19:01:25 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @robdylan (Comment 1) : I have his contact details, he said he will be thrilled if he could do one.

  • Comment 6, posted at 24.05.11 19:19:54 by Mocho Reply

  • “Plastic blue testicles adornig the back of every other vehicle…”

    Hehe, yep, because “sy hele familie se ballas is blou. Sy vrou sin ook.”

    Makes one wonder, it seems as if though all the “bulle” have been fixed, leaving them to be “bblou osse” rather than “bulle”.

  • Comment 7, posted at 24.05.11 19:43:51 by Crock Reply

  • Enjoyed the article, thanks VM 🙂 One point of correction though, the “appendages” in black & white, orange, and yeah, even blue and white striped ones, are on sale at a well-known store in one of Pta’s bigger malls. Saw ’em myself on a little trip to the SA Home of Rugby for a Super 14 final 😉

  • Comment 8, posted at 24.05.11 19:46:16 by diablo Reply

  • 🙂

  • Comment 9, posted at 24.05.11 19:48:18 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Is it me (probably is) or did the Bulls get the balls wrong.

    I thought you “wore” the balls as a red indian would have worn a scalp. Not to celebrate that you support that team?

  • Comment 10, posted at 24.05.11 19:50:05 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark, 🙂 , not the brightest bunch, are they??

  • Comment 11, posted at 24.05.11 19:51:41 by Crock Reply

  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 10) : your awfully quiet this week 😉

  • Comment 12, posted at 24.05.11 20:15:03 by franshark Reply
  • @franshark (Comment 12) : I am on a 2 week analyzer training course and now i can’t even use my phone to log on during the day 🙁

  • Comment 13, posted at 24.05.11 20:54:31 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 13) : that sucks, hope the training is enjoyable

  • Comment 14, posted at 24.05.11 21:28:31 by franshark Reply
  • @diablo (Comment 8) : Haha! I had a sneaking suspicion that some enterprising soul somewhere might have thought of doing this. Luckily haven’t spotted any out in the wild yet! Also, clearly this person needs reminding of the anatomy of a shark :mrgreen:

    Thanks for kind words everyone! Glad I could bring some cheer ! Now lets pack out Kings Park for the remaining home games. I’ll be sure to show my support at Loftus.

  • Comment 15, posted at 24.05.11 22:14:19 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • Thoroughly enjoyed reading your piece! Great stuff! It’s funny how that “I was beyond proud and gave the approving nod – a sign of mutual admiration and recognition amongst the fellow brothers-in-arms up here – whenever I had the opportunity” works – it’s always like a ice-breaker!

  • Comment 16, posted at 25.05.11 08:42:48 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • @Ice (Comment 16) : Too true, I’ve started many a conversation in Spar this way :mrgreen:

  • Comment 17, posted at 25.05.11 09:56:23 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author

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