A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE – LOOKING BACK ON THE PAST

The 70s were the heart of what activists at the time dubbed “second wave feminism,” which began in the 1960s and carried over into the following decade.  The 1970s saw decisions that guaranteed the right to abortion access; efforts to enact the Equal Rights Amendment; and a new focus on topics ranging from women’s sexuality to domestic violence to workplace inequality. Naturally, it would not have happened without a lot of feminist writers and thinkers whose words still ring true today.”

Meanwhile, back at the Wanderers Club, members continued to visit as a diversion from their maddening and tiring daily lives.  Some were even heard to mention that it was their ‘little corner of heaven’ away from all the crazy things that were going on in the world.  1975 was predicted to be a difficult year with more inflation and even the possibility of a recession.   Many more woes could be added like the shape of the politics in the country, moral degradation, youthful permissiveness, and the contempt of established institutions.  To add to all these miseries, declining standards in sports were also being seen.

However, Club committee members and staff were continually kept busy looking after the interests and wellbeing of members. 

After the Christmas festivities had died down the Club was quiet and deserted and only a few members could be seen on the bowling greens or sunning themselves by the pool in the mid-summer heat.

Halfway through the 70s things took a dramatic turn, not only at the Club but also in the world that people had become accustomed to. It was pretty much a case of ‘adapt or die’ and Wanderers served as a link at this time between sanity and bewilderment. Sport, which was the main concern of the Club, had been changing dramatically in character and spirit. Thuggery and lack of chivalry amongst players and unruliness among spectators were tendencies that had become commonplace.  Arrogant behaviour, disrespect for committees, disregard for rules and abuse of privileges were further examples of deteriorating moral standards.

Wanderers had remained true to its principles of supplying clean healthy sport and fellowship amongst its members and committees were preoccupied with upholding standards of sportsmanship.  This was not an easy time for committee members with the repercussions of world events and political developments affecting their own personal lives, especially when they could soon be tasked with problems requiring their perceptiveness and quick-thinking.

In 1975 one could remember with nostalgia that only ten years before South African rugby players and cricketers had travelled overseas on tours where they were still accepted and welcomed. The previously friendly and close relations between well-intentioned human beings, motivated only by their desire to play sport against their overseas counterparts had turned into just memories when this was no longer the case.  Only ten years before sport brought people together and created goodwill but since then goodwill had largely been banished from the international sporting scene. Tours became few and far between, so much so that some of South Africa’s top cricketers only saw one test series, or none at all, while many of the rugby Springboks were relatively inexperienced on the international scene. It was sad that an entire generation of South African sportsmen grew up not knowing what a test match was all about, either as players or as spectators.

Amid the stresses and strains in the South African sporting scene, the trials and tribulations of sports organisers and the joys and tragedies of sporting stars, one sport was indeed booming, and that was the game of squash.  The Club felt the full impact of the increasing popularity of this sport and in the 70s the squash sub-club at Wanderers was without doubt one of the largest and liveliest in the community.  Due to the ever-increasing pressure on facilities, three additional courts were added, bringing the total number to ten.  In the early days there had not been any leagues as games were mostly friendly matches against other clubs.  As squash became more popular, in the Witwatersrand area alone the number of courts had soared from 30 in the 1960s to 80 in 1975.   When Wanderers moved to its new premises in Illovo there were plans in place to build a complex of five courts but due to a shortage of building materials after the war only two could initially be built.  However, within the next two years the remaining three courts were built, including a match court, which put Wanderers on the map as the new centre of squash in the city.

1975 was also the year that saw an increase in junior members at the Club and Wanderers was doing everything possible to accommodate and encourage these up-and-coming generations of sports enthusiasts.

On a Saturday morning the lower tennis courts would be full of these youngsters practicing with a new contraption that ejected tennis balls in all directions for them to attempt to return.

wanderers club Let us stay in the 70s a little while longer - History of The Wanderers Club (11) 1

The Club acquired a machine for the ejection of balls during practice sessions in a variety of games.  It could deliver balls at any desired trajectory and angle.

Nearly every sub-club, even bowls, had its fair share of juniors and in some cases like gymnastics and swimming, the juniors took precedence in the sub-club’s activities.  Wanderers was regarded as an important centre of sports education which was making a valuable contribution to the future state of health and prosperity of sport in the country.  Teaching a junior person a sport was only one aspect in making sportsmen out of young people.  Equally important was to teach them decent manners, civilized conduct and chivalry in sport as well as instill club spirit and respect for rules.

However, displays of shocking behaviour, both among players and spectators alike were commonplace and continually hit the headlines, therefore it was no easy task to impress upon these youngsters that this in fact should not be viewed as the norm.

It was felt that the massive swing to professionalism during the last decade had done little for sport.  It may have enhanced standards of play and increased public interest but its effects on manners were decidedly unfortunate as young players felt that they had to be fiercely competitive, and perhaps even aggressive at times, in order to win the hard cash prizes on offer, rather than just play for fun and fellowship.

To be continued/12………………………