My late gran took me to Newlands to watch live cricket for the first time more than two decades ago now. I was extremely excited. It was Day Three of the-then four-day first class Castle Cup competition and Western Province were hosting Border. I could not wait to experience it. Granny, known for her superfluous extravagance, packed more than enough food for us to feast on throughout the day. She also brought money so we could buy food at the stadium and of course there was more than enough sun block. During the lunch and tea intervals the spectators were allowed onto the actual field of play. As the umpires lifted the bails for the first interval I, along with the other children, raced onto the hallowed Cape Town turf.
Armed with my autograph book and pen the first player I approached was Brian McMillan. I could not believe it. Big Mac was going to be my first sporting autograph. Alas, he ignored me and as I turned Eric Simons was there to happily sign for me. I actually told that story some 14 years later when I was hosting the opening ceremony of the Police Cricket World Cup in Stellenbosch. Simons was the keynote speaker and after I introduced him, he pointed out how it pays to sign autographs. He is one of sport’s nice guys.
In my line of work there are many gentleman but there are also a fair share of jerks. Interestingly there are several who I have had tough encounters with over the years while colleagues of mine have great relationships with these people. The factors that bring this about range from the kinds of questions you ask, the media house you represent and so on. Nevertheless, I thought in this blog I would mention just a few of my favourite people to interview in sport.
JOHN-LAFFNIE DE JAGER
This is the kind of guy you can call anytime of the day or night and he will be available for a chat. I believe I have interviewed J-L for television, radio, magazines and blogs and we have done these in studio, over the phone and via Skype. It is always a pleasure to get tennis insights from this man who represents his sport so well.
The former Bafana Bafana captain is not only a man who is available, but happy to share his wisdom and insights. There really could not have been a better pick to have as my first guest when I launched the TSE Live! podcast. You can listen to it here to hear once again how candid, warm and just plain great Rhoo is as a guest.
CHRIS VAN HEERDEN
Another man who is available 24/7. I covered Chris mainly on television while he was still in South Africa but since moving to the United States we have stayed in touch via Facebook and Skype mostly. It might surprise you that a boxer can be counted among the nice guys but the truth is that many fighters are just like Van Heerden – the exact opposite of what you might expect in one of the most punishing sports – a genuine gentleman.
As a young reporter starting out Breyton visited our radio station one day. He was a star Springbok while I was just a young kid at the beginning of my career. Paulse was not only very kind and friendly but has remained so every since towards me and it is my pleasure to count him among those I have interviewed.
I have only encountered David Miller once and that was quite recently in a television interview. Miller was excellent and even wished me well on my next adventure (more on that later). It is safe to say I cannot wait until the next time it is … Miller time!
A Cape Town racing legend and it was my pleasure to interview him every week on all matters motorsport during my radio days. An extremely kind and friendly soul. I am glad that Ash and I have stayed in touch long after my Cape Town days ended, and sadly Formula Libre coverage too.
Photo credit: WESSEL OOSTHUIZEN / SASPA
CAMERON VAN DER BURGH
I covered him before and after he won that 2012 Olympic gold medal in London. In fact I was in the British capital when he won it. Cameron has always made time for an interview with me and like every one else on this list, proof that nice guys do not have to finish last. He even lets me in on the reporters he finds somewhat … odd. But do not ask me about that, you will not get a word out of me.
Photo credit: Christiaan Kotze/SASPA
I was personally delighted for Sunette when she won that medal in Rio De Janeiro. Not only had she worked ever so hard, but she had won just about every thing else. In the build up to 2012 in London I tried to do a story on her as a potential medal contender. Sadly her schedule was full and she had already done all her media and was now focussing on nothing but training and preparation. Except of course for the time she phoned me to tell me if I would come through to Potchefstroom the next day, she would give me that interview.
There are so many others that I could have mentioned here. I tried to limit it to one person per major sport. Come to think of it there are several in each sport that could have been featured here but I am limited for space. I thought about some people that might take offence at reading this and not seeing their name there. But then of course, they would not be angry would they? They are sport’s nice guys after all.
I did mention David Miller wishing me well for my next adventure and that I would elaborate on that. Well, this is my final Super Blog entry. It has been an incredible journey ever since launching in June 2013. I have had a ball doing this and it was very special last year to win the Best Sports Blog in the SA Blog Awards. For now though it is thank you and good night, as I move on to the next chapter of my career. Thank you for the interactions, comments, retweets, criticism and banter.