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Wanderers Celebrates In Style

Wanderers members who received special honorary blazers on Thursday evening, from left: Muis Burger, Karl Kuhrau, Danie van der Merwe, Bennie Joseph, Abe Louw and Attie Samuelson.
WINDHOEK---The Wanders Sports Club celebrated its centenary in style on Thursday evening when about 200 members, including several legends of old gathered to pay homage to the club. The club started exactly 100 years before when the Wanderers Rugby Football Club was established on 20 February 1920 and since then it has grown to become Namibia's biggest club, with six sub sport codes and more than 1 300 members today.

There were presentations by members of the various sub codes as well as some of the legends of the club. One of them, John Powell, who joined Wanderers in 1949 and represented Wanderers and South West at cricket, rugby and squash, recalled his early days. “I joined Wanderers in 1949 and in those days we used to play on stone fields. I'm amazed at the wonderful grass and facilities you have today,” he said.

Powell regaled the audience with some anecdotes of legendary members like Jaap Snyman and Stoffel van den Heever, as well as their escapades on train trips for matches in Keetmanshoop and Walvis Bay. Ian Smith, who played cricket for Wanderers in the Seventies and later became a committee member, flew in especially from South Africa to be present.

“When I joined Wanderers it didn't always go so well and sometimes we couldn't even field a full team. But in the Eighties, Lennie Louw joined and we started winning and by 1995 when I left, we never lost a match. “I remember men like Oom Hannes van der Merwe and Hans Eric Staby who did a lot for the club. “In 1995 I returned to South Africa, but Wanderers has always been very close to my heart, and when I received honorary membership I was very proud and emotional,” he said.

Another legend, the former Springbok netball player, Malie Snyman, was also present and honoured by several members of the netball fraternity. They included her daughter Ronel, who also played for Wanderers, as well as former Wanderers and Namibian player, Juanita du Plessis, who sent a message via video call. Former Wanderers, SWA and Namibia captain Gerhard Mans recalled his star-studded side of the Eighties and Nineties.

“We had a very talented team with players like Shaun McCulley, Henning Snyman, Doug Jeffery and Andre Stoop - they were all match winners and always wanted the ball. It was an honour to lead them and I'm very thankful to have played a role in Wanderers' history. Johan Barnard, who captained Wanderers as well as Western Province in the Nineties and later became Wanderers president, recalled the day when Oom Daantjie Louw phoned him when he was still living in Kimberley.

“In 1987 Oom Daantjie called me one day out of the blue and asked if I didn't want to come and play for Wanderers. So I came up, but when he saw me oh no man you are not a flanker you are too small for a flanker. But I got a great reception so I realised I will just have to join them. “We had a fantastic spirit, the rugby players supported the cricket players and vice versa. It was a wonderful time in my life and if it was not for Wanderers I would probably never even have arrived here,” he said.

Corne Powell, who captained Wanderers and Namibia in the Nineties and Noughties, said it was a world class club. “It's a testimony of what this club means if you look at the speakers here tonight. If you look at its facilities, it's by far the best in Namibia and can compete with the best in Africa and the world. Let's take hands and maintain our position as the best club in Namibia,” he said.

There were also presentations by members of the various sub codes, including AB Louw of cricket, Brendan Thirion of netball, Anke Haensel of hockey, Jacques van der Smit of squash and Heiko Fliedl of table tennis, while Arno van Wyk of Windhoek Afrikaanse Privaat Skool, who became a partner of Wanderers in 2008, also gave a presentation. The chairman of Wanderers Sports Club, Attie Samuelson, said it was a privilege and a big responsibility to lead the club, but stressed that there were new challenges ahead. “We need to plan ahead and put systems in place so that the new generation can take the club forward.

The responsibility that we carry is much greater than the privilege to be a part of it.” Several Wanderers members also received honorary blazers in recognition of their service to the club, namely Samuelson, Karl Kuhrau, Bennie Joseph, Muis Burger, Danie van der Merwe and Abe Louw.
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