Dream come true for Mitchell

2011-10-30 13:12

Johannesburg - Golden Lions coach John Mitchell says filling Coca-Cola Park from corner to corner, in his team’s 42-16 Currie Cup final victory over the Sharks was a dream come true.

Gallery: Lions win Currie Cup

“When I came here 16 months ago a lot of my friends said to me what the hell are you doing,” Mitchell said.

“But I’ve always liked a challenge and I always had a dream to fill the corners of Ellis Park (Coca-Cola Park) and it is quite ironic that my first game in South Africa was against Transvaal in the old days.”

Mitchell said the contrast between 1993 when he played at a full Ellis Park and when he first arrived at the union in a capacity as coach, stayed with him.

“The program is pretty simple and accountable and a program where men work hard anything is possible,” Mitchell said.

The Lions were firmly in the driving seat by the start of the second half with the Johannesburg-based side leading the clash 22-9.

The match, however, could have swung the other way when the Sharks' Willem Alberts scored a controversial try.

Alberts seemed to have knocked the ball on but after reverting to assistant referee Christie du Preez, referee Mark Lawrence awarded the try.

Mitchell said his charges had shown immense composure and maturity at this crucial point in the match to win their first final at home since 1950.

“I guess when that yellow card occurred, on our goal line for long periods of time and then the unfortunate knock-on where they were awarded a try the former Lions side may have not handled that situation very well,” said Mitchell.

“I guess it is just a sign we’re prepared to except that there will be momentum swings and it is important not to get frustrated by that.”

He said that at no stage did he feel the side were damaged by the situation and praised his troops for hanging tough.

The former All Black mentor was brimming with pride at the post-match press conference and explained the affection he had for the Currie Cup.

“This is the oldest cup in the world. I looked at it the other day.

When I saw it and thought I can’t look at it too long because I’m not allowed to look at it until we’ve earned it,” Mitchell said.

Victorious captain Josh Strauss, who left the field in the 28th minute with a concussion, said he knew his men would pull it through as he was watching the game from the sideline.

“I’m still very young but I can be proud of all these guys and they’ve been here longer than me (referring to Wikus van Heerden, Doppies la Grange, Cobus Grobbelaar and Franco van der Merwe),” said Strauss.

“It is such a great achievement, for everyone in that cloakroom there, we’ve built so hard and come such a long way since last year.

“I mean just to see this side win the Currie Cup, when no one expected us to, is unbelievable.”

Strauss also decided to shave off his much talked about beard after the victory.


  • Vickers - 2011-10-30 13:19

    Remember this? feels like yesterday. I wonder what odds one could get from a bookie for predicting a Lions Currie cup back then.

  • Selma - 2011-10-30 15:29

    Kobus Wiese,John Robbie,Ashwin Willemse and Owen Nkumane, get the grins of your faces and stop gloating. I mean really, what is the big deal? Twelve years? The Sharks waited a century before they won their FIRST Currie Cup. Thanks for a fantastic final Lions - you were outstanding. Blue Bul from a blue Durban waith a lot of red faced Sharks supportes.

      Francois - 2011-10-30 23:33

      Can you explain your point in English please? SBTW, where did the Lions buy the crowd? Allister, this Strauss fellow was a Matie, right there under your nose, what happened, did not spot the talent? Had to buy Duanne from the Free State?

  • Butch - 2011-10-30 16:38

    This is what a master coaching is about - while the boks still think they can win with palukas and morons. Give that man a Bells - and select him and Carlos for the boks. - and leave the mediocres - WCR hates mediocrity.

      Smell - 2011-10-30 23:47

      With you on that one!

      Pierre - 2011-10-31 10:17

      There is a difference between provincial and international sport. This Lions team cannot just be thrown into international rugby. Secondly the Lions had the advantage of almost their full Super 15 team for the Currie Cup season, while the others played with their B teams for most of the Currie Cup. Then when the Springboks returned there is not necessary an immediate improvement as team structures need time to adjust. We really have a good Springbok side at the moment, plus there are some very good news guys coming in. Loose talk is not helping anybody.

      heinrich.beukes1 - 2011-10-31 12:59

      Pierre they didnt have to include their boks. Point its their own stupidity!

  • Stephanus - 2011-10-30 16:41

    The Lions have finally won back their honour. We fell far after people turned against the great Luyt and the politics of those scrambling to grow empires in the Union. The game of the kings of the jungle was ruined for years. We could not stand together as the agenda's behind the scenes were killing the We were robbed by mans own hidden agends's. The pride is back, let the pride dictate the outcome. The pride knows how to hunt and kill. The men with agend's and no humility need to bow down and become accountable. You have caused us to fall, we worked hard and it has paid off. John you are the roaring lion, who has made this possible. The new blood brings good stock. Well done to all. You restored our our faith in the Kings of the Jungle.

  • charl.norman - 2011-10-30 17:10

    Make him Bok coach!

      Johan - 2011-10-31 13:25

      ...agree...!! ....John Mitchell = excellent coach...!! can't beat excellence...!!

      Benmica - 2011-10-31 14:49

      Give them all a Bells!

  • Ivan - 2011-10-30 19:10

    I respect this ou. He stuck it out in Jozi (Attempted robbery included) & made it a success! Africa is not for sissies! Legend & consummate professional. All the best to him & his team of Lions! You should get a key to the City!

  • jay.steyn1 - 2011-10-30 19:24

    Good job Mitchell

  • Lucille - 2011-10-30 20:33

    Great stuff Mitchell can see where you coming from....

  • André - 2011-10-30 23:47

    What a fantastic Lion-performance and all credit to the coaching staff. Kiwi's teaching SA coaches how to take average players from zero to hero!

  • Hannetjie - 2011-10-31 07:36

    Good job - john Mitchell and the golden Lions coaching team. I believe that the golden Lions won because of their fantastic team approach - no prima donnas who wanted to do it themselves and they really played well. THANKS FOR MAKING US LIONS SUPPORTERS PROUD !!!!

  • Raeez - 2011-10-31 07:46

    Maak hulle almal Bokke!!!!!!!!

  • Alan - 2011-10-31 13:44

    Well done to the Lions. Brilliant rugby all season. I'll be very surprised if there are not at least 10 lions players in the next bok squad. Can't wait to see these guys in the super 15 next year.

  • Facts - 2011-10-31 14:27

    Well done Mitchell for making a success out of nothing. 16 Months, its unbelievable. Province for the last 4 years has been spending MILLIONS with Rassie, AC and overrated players and still has nothing to show. I am not a gambling man but I put my money on the fact that the status will remain the same for MANY years to come. Now we know that the role of a coach is extremely important.

  • Benmica - 2011-10-31 14:48

    Top hard work and hunger from young guys.....Congratulations... They even won the proven Boks in the WP and Sharks. Throw out the old has beens and start fresh with young guys in all teams. Bulls forever.

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