Rob Houwing

SuperSport face life after Gary

2013-11-29 09:54
Sport24 chief writer Rob Houwing (File)
Gary Bailey quits SuperSport ... and Manchester City fans across South Africa are reduced to tears. Or, er, maybe not.

The revelation on SS3 earlier this week that Bailey, former Manchester United and England goal-keeper, is leaving to pursue new interests abroad (apparently in the United States) did devilishly remind me of a famous Private Eye cover of 1966.

Following the assassination of apartheid prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd that year, the satirical magazine ran a cover featuring a photo of a Zulu Impi in suitably bellicose pose, and under the headline “Verwoerd: A nation mourns”.

OK, local supporters of the blue club in Manchester may be a tad more sympathetic towards Bailey than that!

But it is true that Gary inevitably got their backs up at times in his 23-year tenure as soccer pundit with SuperSport, given his slightly understandable partiality for all things “Red Devil” after a nine-year playing career at Old Trafford.

The one thing he did always bring was a quite genuine passion and enthusiasm for the ever-popular English game – even if plenty of people now follow the Spanish scene with equal or greater lustre – and I thought he came across as a naturally affable and articulate presenter and observer.

Bailey may have been Ipswich-born, but he moved here as a six-year-old so he has always managed to come across as a suitably South African “boykie” (plus standing between the sticks for Kaizer Chiefs helped give him some affection for the PSL landscape) and not overly Anglo-centric.

Now 55, it is amazing to think that he began with the fledgling SuperSport in 1990, the same year that he and Barry Lambert (remember him?) brought us pretty comprehensive first-time local studio presentation of the Italian-staged World Cup.

There is some debate (even people at SuperSport I know aren’t completely sure) about whether Bailey has been the longest-serving sports presenter at the Randburg-based TV corporation; it’s probably between him and Naas Botha?

But seeing as the rugby icon was still playing his last matches in Bok colours in the immediate post-isolation period in 1992, I’d suggest Bailey holds sway.

There has been no official suggestion of whether any particular individual among SuperSport’s existing soccer pundits will be elevated a tad to plug the Bailey gap.

They continue to make liberal use of another former England player, John Barnes: no, he hasn’t moved lock, stock and barrel to South Africa and continues to be put up in hotels for his frequent trips to our soil. The bosses at SuperSport like having him, I gather, and he’s just as keen to come to these parts.

Will you regret seeing Bailey go? Let us know your thoughts ...

Rob’s Awesome Foursome

1 South Africa v Pakistan, 3rd cricket ODI

Centurion, Saturday 10:00, SS2, SHD2, SABC3  

In a shock development, considering how they thrashed the very same foes in the less familiar environment of the UAE, the Proteas have already slumped to defeat in the mini-series. But as I mentioned soon after their one-run heartbreak at St George’s Park, AB de Villiers and company have a bit more than just pride at stake for the SuperSport Park finale. For one thing, they must try to stave off a first-time home whitewash, thus at least protecting a record that has stood firm since 1992/93. And a much more up-tempo, clinical showing would at least give them better confidence in their quest to topple World Cup champions India; that series begins at the Bullring as quickly as Thursday. Also of interest here: will the SA brains trust continue with the match-to-match shuffling, or will they start seeking a more stable, routine ODI line-up?

2 HSBC Sevens World Series rugby

Dubai, Friday & Saturday various times, SS1, SHD

The Blitzbokke made a so-so start to the coaching tenure of Neil Powell, successor to long-serving Paul Treu, in round one at the Gold Coast where they finished fourth. Especially given that they’ll want to carry some momentum into the SA leg in Port Elizabeth next weekend, expect a strong desire for a more forceful performance in the Emirates. By the time you read this, the SA side – boosted by twinkle-toed Newlands favourite Cheslin Kolbe – will have played Argentina, and next play Russia (11:40 our time) and Samoa (16:54). In the hope that they go all the way, Saturday’s Cup final is at 18:20 ...

3 Barbarians v Fiji, international rugby

London, Saturday 16:30, SS8, SHD5

Yes, I know ... this won’t be the most heavyweight rugby match ever played. But I’m going to hype it a little anyway, given the rich tradition of the BaaBaas and the likelihood that we’ll see some reasonably relaxed, ball-in-hand rugby with some long-range tries, outrageous off-loads and the like. There’s no lack of Springbok spice to the BaaBaas’ ranks, with Jean de Villiers skippering and all of Pat Lambie (at flyhalf), Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger, Bismarck du Plessis and Beast Mtawarira starting. Coenie Oosthuizen and Willie le Roux can expect second-half run-ons, at the very least, whilst new Stormers recruit Manuel Carizza, the Argentinean lock, is also among the subs. Certain SA Super Rugby coaches may be quietly imploring the Fijians to keep those tackles well below head height and not too bone-rattling ...

4 Mamelodi Sundowns v Moroka Swallows, PSL soccer

Pretoria, Sunday 15:30, SS4, SHD4

This is handsome local fare for Sunday afternoon, as it pits log-leaders Sundowns against second-placed Swallows ... even if the situation on the table may have changed slightly before kick-off, as Kaizer Chiefs will have assumed loftiest status if they’ve beaten Free State Stars on Saturday. Colleague Ray Silinga, who is unashamedly ‘Downs-inclined, suggests a 2-1 score-line in favour of the hosts though does concede the Birds are “formidable” this season. A bit earlier on Sunday (SS3, 14:00), English Premiership fans should revel in the White Hart Lane clash between champions Manchester United and a Tottenham team desperately trying to salvage pride after that 6-0 stuffing by Man City!   

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Live scoring

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

How will the Springboks fare in their three end of year tour Tests against England, Italy and Wales?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.