Footballers bid farewell to Cape soccer legend

SHIFAAN RYKLIEF

At the weekend, friends and family said their final goodbyes to Cape soccer legend, Dougie Carelse, 72, who died two weeks ago after a short battle with cancer.

The funeral service was held at St Luke’s Church, in Salt River, following a memorial service earlier in the week at Salt River Blackpool FC’s clubhouse, in Shelley Road.

Dougie’s son, Brent, a former Ajax Cape Town, Hellenic and SuperSport United player, said he shared a special bond with his father – both equally passionate about soccer and both midfielders.

Brent said he always knew that one day he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and play soccer at the highest level. However, playing soccer was a different ball game for Dougie and his peers, as they not only had to face their opposition on the field, but also faced an apartheid regime hell-bent on making sure that the playing field was never going to be level for sports loving people. Highly respected and admired by his teammates and rivals, Dougie, who lived with Brent in Fish Hoek, was a major drawcard to football venues across the city and the country during his playing days in the 60s and 70s.

Those who knew him well say he was not just good on the ball at his feet, he also became a highly rated coach, and among the first South Africans to obtain top flight coaching qualifications.

Now that Brent has hung up his boots, he’s in the process of getting his coaching badges.

“My dad had an FA coaching qualification which he obtained in England at the age of 21, when his father sent him over.

“While there, he also played soccer in the lower divisions and had stints with Crystal Palace, Leeds United and other clubs.

Dougie played a starring role at the William Herbert Sports Ground, in Wynberg, where he turned out for the legendary Woodside.

Dougie’s brother in-law, Ivan Dagnin, 76, remembers him as an all-round sportsman who could have excelled at almost any sport, saying he was a brilliant baseballer, a competent cricketer and a champion table tennis player.

“He was a naturally gifted soccer player and very composed on the ball. He never scored many goals because he was always instrumental in setting up the goals – he had a good eye and an exceptional final pass,” said Dagnin.

Western Province table tennis stalwart, Hasie Ismail said 1962 and 1968 were two significant years in table tennis history, in Cape Town – and, that Carelse played a pivotal role in both those years.

“Dougie won the Western Province championships twice and represented WP four times – in 1962, 1964, 1966 and 1968.

“In 1962, the national champs for soccer and table tennis were at the same time, in Durban. Dougie was chosen for both sport codes which meant he had to choose. He chose table tennis which left his soccer teammates very upset because he was their key player,” said Ismail.

“In 1968, WP beat Southern Natal who were the reigning champs. It was a great achievement because WP last won the nationals in 1952.

“That year, the tournament was held in Cape Town, and Dougie was part of the winning team – Dougie was magic,” he said.

* – Additional reporting by Fuad Esack