Two major innovations worthy of note in the ‘80s …………………   

  • In 1980 (not really so long ago!), offices ran on typewriters and real carbon copies. By the end of the ’80s, the world was in the midst of the PC revolution that’s still changing our world today.
  • In 1984, Dr. Alec Jeffreys discovered the repetitive patterns of DNA in humans. He also discovered that the variations of a person’s DNA can also be used to identify an individual. He called his new discovery as “genetic fingerprinting”. It was successfully tested on the murders that happened near the university where he taught and since then, DNA fingerprinting has been used to absolve a suspect and convict a guilty one.

Meanwhile, back at the Wanderers Club life went on as usual.  It would have been good if one could turn their back on the previous year but unfortunately the New Year brought with it those all-familiar anxieties and troubles and uncertainty of the future.

South African sportsmen still found themselves ostracized by the rest of the world so they resigned to the fact that things might not change in a hurry.  More and more clubs were getting themselves into the money game, even going as far as changing their names and uniforms to suit advertising sponsors. Rampant inflation had become the order of the day and it was getting harder and harder not to erode the Wanderers Club’s finances at an alarming rate.  In the face of consistently rising costs, it was difficult to keep club activities going to the high standards that members had come to expect, but those responsible for the Club’s finances somehow managed to do that pretty well.  Some other clubs had in fact either amalgamated or closed completely.

The 1981 Annual General meeting of the Wanderers Club was just another one of those traditionally boring affairs which had to be endured for the sake of observing the constitution of the Club.  As usual a barely adequate quorum of ‘old faithfuls’ was in attendance with nothing of interest to be discussed or argued so proceedings were short and finished within the hour.   What was of real importance though was that during the proceedings the vice-chairman referred to recent statements by the Minister of Sport that certain laws hampering racial integration in sport were soon to be amended and, according to Club policy relating to membership, any amendments by law should be referred to the members for their approval.

The Wanderers Club president at the time, Doug Roberts, took the opportunity to welcome the change to more integration in sport and he emphasised this in  his speech for the AGM:

It is essential that we South Africans should do all in our power to eliminate discrimination in sport, not just to appease overseas antagonism to South Africa but for the sake of South African sport and for the sake of the country itself.  I think that there are still very many people in South Africa who do not have the opportunities and facilities available to the more privileged classes. If more people were given appropriate facilities, I believe that the prestige of South African sport, which is already high internationally, would still further be enhanced”.

Mr Roberts then went on to say that he sincerely hoped that the Wanderers Club would demonstrate its belief in integrated sport by throwing its membership open to all so a new era started for the Club.

After the AGM, the Club celebrated the 20th Republic Anniversary festivities at the Club and several sporting events were held.  

history of Wanderers

As another spring arrived the usual activities around the club proceeded with gusto; scarifying of fields, fertilizing and top dressing. The Namaqualand daisies began to bloom around the deserted bowling greens as if in celebration of the reappearance of the summer sportsmen at the premises.  By the beginning of September only a handful of baseball and soccer players could be seen about the fields and dressing rooms while squads of cricketers began to appear at the practice nets preparing for the season to come.   Even though the weather was unseasonably cold for that time of year, the swimming pool would still open on 1st September and much work and tender care had gone into making this an inviting area for members.

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But alas, some things are beyond the control of the well-intentioned, and the evening before the opening vandals broke into the premises and cast huge quantities of rocks, broken bricks, and clods of soil into the immaculately clean water that had been prepared for the opening day.  This highlighted the Club’s growing need for increased security, something we accept as the norm today with crime being so common and having on-site security on a permanent basis.

The past winter, unlike the two before it, was not altogether a typical one mainly because the Transvaal Rugby Football Union continued to use the stadium as its headquarters which in turn meant a very welcome inflow of cash into the Club’s coffers.  The new headquarters at Ellis Park was nearing completion and hopes were high that it would be ready in time for the 1982 rugby season. This meant that the stadium would in future only be host to the occasional event, and this was a saddening prospect.

As the Club moved onto another summer with only the few three-day matches to look forward to because South Africa had been shut out at the International Cricket Conference in July, it was back to the good old Currie Cup and Datsun Shield matches.  These may not have been as exciting as the international test matches of old, but they were still deemed jolly good cricket all the same.

One pleasant memory from the year 1981 must be the snowstorm on 11th September.  Just when it seemed that spring was about to burst into full bloom, the weather suddenly changed and for a brief few hours Johannesburg saw a snowstorm which turned the Wanderers Club into a winter wonderland, even if only for a short while.

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Even Nature made sure that each day at the Wanderers Club is guaranteed to provide entertainment in some form or another.


To be continued /…14