Friday, December 09, 2005

The Cheetah's day in Bloem

As most of you know, I am an ardent Blue Bull fan living in Bloemfontein.
The last 3 years, since my team regained the cup, were relatively quiet and quite pleasant living as a Bulls supporter – I guess that’s probably everywhere the case. But more so in Bloem since the local side – the Cheetahs – did not quite perform as well as their faithful supporters demanded they should for almost 29 years.

The games the visiting Bulls teams played in Bloem the last 3 years were mostly close encounters, but the men in Blue, making me a very happy supporter, won all. The home team’s supporters were always subdued. No matter how bad their side played or how well the opposition outplayed them, or knowing that if their side played 80 minutes the way they played the last 20, they could have won, they always remained devoted Cheetah supporters.

Those of you who know me, would vouch for the fact that I never gloated over a Bulls victory over the Cheetahs, since I am living in their home town, and one doesn’t burn the hand that feeds you.

Oh what a bliss it was living in Bloem as Bull supporter back then.

But that all changed on a fateful day of the 22nd October 2005 at approximately 6:35 pm.

I, like so many others, thought that a repeat of the previous year’s encounter in the Bull-ring wouldn’t be too far off the mark. Though I thought the visitors might score a penalty goal or two more than was the case a year ago. The main idea was that that the Bulls would win this year’s final as well. The only two things that I didn’t like then – and still don’t – were a week or two before the final where Blue supporters completely shot their mouths off by already opening a bottle of champagne before the match was even played and completely writing the Cheetahs off. The other is Bulls-bashing – but that is just as a Bulls fan – I’m sure other teams’ supporters feel the same about their sides being bashed. Anyway, I am digressing.

We ALL know what happened on that historic day. I definitely know.
I myself couldn’t make it to Ford Loftus that day – last minute changes (long story) – but I can tell you, when that final whistle blew, I could hear almost the whole Bloem rejoicing as they shouted their victory cries. It was a sound I’ve never experienced in my life. Every one in every house seemed to shout his elation after the win. Incredible. It was at that moment that I realized the people of the Free State’s passion for their team’s efforts over the years. Years of choked anger and frustration all bursted out in that one moment after the final whistle.
My mother’s neighbor was in her garden when the Cheetahs scored their first try in the second half. She said she could hear all around her people cheering. She then went inside and didn’t see a pathetic score on her Television, but a score of a team, which could win it. She went back outside and a couple of minutes later, the same sound could be heard from around her. When she went inside, the score had changed dramatically. Moments afterward the whistle blew…

Within 30 minutes after the whistle – right after my heart fell into my shoes – I received 17 SMS’s from people I didn’t even know were Cheetah supporters. Days later I still found jokes on my phone from people. Their joys knew no ending.

People may say that if the Bulls or WP or the Lions had won the cup, by the following Wednesday their celebrations would be over, but the Cheetahs’ would continue until next year this time. But when I look around the city, I see people who have been waiting for 29 years to win the sought after cup. People whose hopes were shattered on numerous occasions (against the Lions, against WP and 2004 on Loftus).

But now something awoke inside of them which supporters of WP, Bulls and Lions have perhaps taken for granted. 29 Years is a long time without the CUP. It isn’t just a prize; it’s a life-giving prize. Bloem is, since then, alive with Cheetah fever. You just have to tune in to the local radio station, OFM, to know what I mean. Rugby is now more in their veins than ever.
People have not only become Cheetah supporters, but Rugby supporters. People never interested in rugby, were now suddenly eager followers of the game. For the Free Staters it was like winning the world cup. Just look at Os du Randt’s comments about how precious winning the Currie Cup is for him.

And although I am still being bashed as a Bull supporter at work, at church, at formal functions etc, I will keep in mind, what has been reborn in Free State country and why it was so important the FS won the Currie Cup.

But from a Bulls point of view, 10 February 2006 is coming, and we are waiting patiently for our vengeance…



Yip, op OORB is daar spasie vir die hele nasie.

Thanks BloemBull

Hoop dis die begin van baie- on s gaan nog lekker chat tot 11 Feb 2006.

Ek sien DavidS reken klaar dit gaan 'n walk-over vir die Bulle wees- omdat hulle moerig is- wel hulle eet mos nie van die vloer af nie- smeer aan en kom..
very nice piece bloembull.

man, it is emotions like that which serves as a constant reminder why we love this game so much.
Bloembull- like I said before- the Bulls will win the 1o Feb game- they must just pitch up as well for the 11 Feb one ;-).

Yip, it had meant a lot to us- all of us here in Free State- and had given the rest of the country something to smile about as well.

But 2006 is looming-it will be tough- and OORB- and its merry band of contributers will be writing about it.

BTW BloemBull- are you leaving for the Holidasies- still need to catch that drink in Dros?

Het vergeet van die Vodacom cup toernooi. Hoop die Bulle vergeet ook nie daarvan nie.

Ek gaan met verlof van die 16de af, maar is in Bloemfontein tot die 20ste toe.

Hoe klink hierdie Woensdag in die Dros?

Klink goed- sal laat weet.

met apologie- ek het die Bul aan die gat beetgehad- die game is 1710 Vrydag 10 Februarie 2006.

Sal daar wees boet- in Oranje.
Passionate article, Bloembull!!

Thank you.
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