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The life and times of retired gloves man uncle John de Klerk 

2022-04-22  Carlos Kambaekwa

The life and times of retired gloves man uncle John de Klerk 

Just as the club was about to find closure from the shock departure of club legend Andreas ‘General’ Angala, another tragedy visited the close-knit family of Tigers Sports Club, following the sad passing of reliable young shot-stopper David Peterson. 

In the meantime, tears of grief and agony have hardly dried up when news of the passing of another football legend emerged. Former Try Again attacker Johannes ‘Salute” Coleman died after losing a long battle to illness.  

In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sport feature Tales of the Legends, New Era Sport will pay homage to the departed pair of Petersen and Coleman, and will also in today’s episode unzip the amazing untold football journey of unheralded star, the retired goalie Uncle John de Klerk.




With most of his former teammates having gone the way of all flesh, De Klerk, like most Cape Coloured descendants back in then Apartheid South West Africa (SWA), is a product of Karasburg, a small town holed up in the semi-desert of //Kharas region. 

Nowadays growing a bit long in the tooth at the fairly advanced age of 73, De Klerk is encountering a bit of difficulty with sobering recollection of his amazing football resume in full detail. 

Nonetheless, the retired gloves man was more than eager to narrate his football path and exploits between the sticks. He started his long and winding football journey with the now defunct unfashionable Khomasdal outfit Swans FC, at the tender age of 17 in 1967. 

“In those days, there was no proper organised league football structures in Khomasdal, or elsewhere amongst the marginalised non-white communities, but we somehow managed to weather the storm against all odds stacked against us Swans FC was formed by Alois Yon,” he recalls.   

Unfortunately, as an enthusiastic and very competitive young athlete, De Klerk was eager to win things. Swans did certainly not match his ambitions, obliging him to jump ship after just one season. He joined forces with the more competitive Eleven Strangers Football Club, under the guidance of Oupie Nel. 

It was indeed at Strangers where the agile net guard rose to prominence, becoming one of the most sought-after goalkeepers in the business. He went on to enjoy unsurpassed success with the exciting Khomasdal outfit and was in the limelight when Strangers fashioned out well-deserved victories in several knockout cup tournaments, across the length and width of the country. 

“If my memory serves me right, we won seven out of nine cups in the hotly contested popular knockout tournaments in one calendar year. We used to compete fiercely and always got the better of top teams from Katutura, such as African Stars, Black Africa, Pirates, Tigers, Rocco Swallows, Orlando Pirates, Flames, Golden Arrows, Try Again, Marists United, Young Thistles, Eleven Arrows, and many others.”   

Back in the day, national selectors would often use these particular tournaments as an ideal platform for trials with the ultimate view to select a team for the South West Africa (SWA) Inter-Provincial Non-European Football Invitational Eleven. 

Admittedly, continued lack of suitable opponents always curtailed this dream in the long run. Despite the setback, De Klerk strongly believes he would have walked blindfolded in the SWA Non-European Invitational Eleven, had the opportunity presented itself. 

Having to overcome the disappointment of missing out on provincial competitions, the agile goalie finally got the chance to pit his strength against more formidable opponents when Eleven Strangers undertook an energy sapping road tour to Worcester and Wynberg to participate in the popular annual Glenville FC Cup Tournament in Cape Town. 

The Namibian amateurs featured in a number of eye-catching exhibition matches against strong local clubs from that neck of the woods, and gave a good account of themselves, only for the leg weary visitors to stumble in the quarterfinals.

His consistent and flawless exploits between the sticks did not go unnoticed, propelling De Klerk to regularly appear on the back pages of the exclusively Coloured/Baster popular Taak Afrikaans newspaper. 

Without undermining his own legendary status, De Klerk refuses to be spoken of in the same conversation as the celebrated Hermann ‘Pele’ Blaschke, Bobby Sissing, Oupie Nel, Ellen van Harte, Kiro Makati-Diergaardt, Fritzie Poulster, and Boetie de Klerk.

“Without an iota of doubt, Pele was in a different class, and by a decent stretch way ahead of his peer. ‘Kaffertjie’, as Pele was affectionately known amongst his teammates, was a damn highly gifted forward. Kiro was an amazing scoring machine second to none, and lest we forget, we had two great players in the shape of Ellen van Harte and Fritzie Poulster, also up there with the very best.”  

“I will fail in my moral duty if I do not recognise the unselfish commitment, passion, and immense contribution towards the overall growth of football in Khomasdal by the tireless trident of evergreen Bobby Sissing, Boetie de Klerk, and Oupie Nel. The trio certainly did their part in leaving the game in a far better space,” concludes Uncle J.       


RIP David Peterson 1993-2022


Having started his blossoming football career at the revered Augustineum Secondary School, young David rose to stardom when he joined Premiership giants Tigers FC, from lower division campaigners Rebels. He played a pivotal role when the rejuvenated ‘Ingwe’ clinched the cup double in the 2017/2018 season. The young goalie was also called up for the Brave Warriors squad on a few occasions. May his soul rest easy.       


Johannes ‘Salute’ Coleman 1957-2022 


Former Premiership title aspirants, Tseiblaagte outfit Try Again, will be best remembered for their exciting brand of carpet football, barely witnessed in domestic football. Their attractive style of play captured the imagination of the neutral fan during their somewhat short-lived lodging in the comfort of the country’s flagship league. 

The silky Southerners dished out some impressive displays though decent results often proved hard to come by, and despite spending just one season in the Premier League, Try Again left a long-lasting impression. 

One of the most outstanding players whose name will not easily vacate the lips of football lovers is inspirational skipper Johannes Thomas ‘Salute’ Coleman. 

Regrettably, his blossoming football career was cut short when he suffered a catastrophic life-threatening stroke, which confined him to a wheelchair until his passing. May he too rest in eternal peace.

2022-04-22  Carlos Kambaekwa

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