Lali Stander –
DURBAN (11 October 2013) – Central Gauteng will kick off their South African Mid-Amateur Inter-Provincial title defence from 14-8 October, but last year’s champions could be in for a tough battle against title rivals KwaZulu-Natal at Durban Country Club.
KZN lifted the title in 2009 at Irene Country Club and won again in 2011 at Humewood, but after having the title wrenched away by a spirited Central Gauteng attack at Schoeman Park last year, the men in black are baying for blood.
After four days of tough competition at Schoeman Park, it came down to KZN, the Western Province and Central, tied at six points each.
But Province could do no better than a 7-5 win against Boland, while KZN wilted in the face of a full onslaught from Central. The eventual champions hammered KZN 10-2 to score runaway victory in the seventh edition of the country’s biggest mid-amateur team competition.
“We can’t hide from it; we got a proper hiding in Bloemfontein,” says team manager Neil Champion. “Central was vicious in their attack in the final round, but we also let it slip. They put us on the back foot early on and they just kept up the pressure. We never had a chance to recover.
“But that was 12 months ago. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. Our guys learned a great lesson, though, and they will never assume the race is run until they cross the finish line.”
Campion is counting on Murray Gilson to captain the side to their third victory.
“The guys have put in a lot of effort in their preparation and we are primed and ready,” the skipper said.
“We have the home course advantage, but these days that doesn’t mean much. Players are so skilled, they can win anywhere. We won in Gauteng and the Eastern Province, Ekurhuleni won down in Boland and Central last year in the Free State.
“But what we do have, is eight guys that are hungry to win. They are a great unit, ready to play for each other and ready to take on the rest of the A-Section.”
Gilson’s charges include fellow Durban Country Club players Sean Fenger, Keith Forde, Elton James and Lyall McNeil, as well as Brendan Adlam from Cotswold Downs, Mount Edgecombe’s Dave Brown and former professional Bradley Davidson, who plays out of Royal Durban Golf Club.
Meanwhile North West will be aiming to make the most of their hard-fought for promotion in their A-Section debut alongside Boland, Ekurhuleni and the Western Province.
Manager Coenie Schoonhoven said the team is fired up following the recent SA Inter-Provincial, sponsored by Tempest, which was held at Rustenburg Golf Club.
“Our provincial side was really inspired by our mid-amateur team’s promotion after a tough clash down in Bloemfontein last year,” he explained. “The guys hoped to make it two-for-two at the SA IPT, but they were beaten by Ekurhuleni.
“It’s really important for this mid-amateur side to retain their A-Section status, not only for themselves, but because they serve as a huge inspiration for the younger guys and the juniors.”
It is a measure of the strength and depth of talent in the over-35s ranks that the SA Mid-Amateur draws 13 teams from across the country to compete in the A- and B-Sections in Bloemfontein.
The Eastern Province will lead the B-Section battle for promotion.
Just 12 months after they earned their A-Section stripes at Humewood, the Eastern Province has it all to do again after being handed the wooden spoon at Schoeman Park.
Other teams looking to graduate to the A-Section include Border, Free State & Northern Cape, Gauteng North, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Southern Cape.