Book Review: Craven Stories
The Bible has the Book of Wisdom; rugby football has the Craven Stories, a distillation of one of the greatest South Africans and most probably the greatest rugby man who ever lived.
Louis Blom, a great lock in his day, with the help of Hanlie Swart, has a produced a book in which 58 people who were close to Doc, the name by which they knew him, give their memories of him and the pithy wisdoms of his view on life in South Africa and rugby.
Often somebody will start to deliver a rugby wisdom with the words: “As Doc always said.” He may never have said it but it is an excellent way to lend credence to the profound utterance to follow. Now you have in writing a section of some 100 of Doc’s sayings, an authenticated list, if you like.
It’s not only the words of wisdom that are in the book, but wonderful anecdotes from people who knew the great man well.
Most of the writing is in Afrikaans.
It’s not a ponderous book but one to dip into as randomly as you like. For those who knew Doc there is lots to recall good days and also much that it new to add to the store. To those who did not know him, it is a great opportunity to get to know him.
There is much rugby but much besides and includes sections by his wife Merlé and his daughter Joan. In fact there are a dozen women who contributed their memories to the book.
There is no tub-thumping but you will pick up the great South African’s mission for over 30 years to shunt the country away from apartheid. His slogan: “We can change South Africa on the rugby field.”
On the cover is a lovely picture of Doc with Bliksem, the most famous of South African dogs after Just Nuisance and the fictional Jock of the Bushveld. It was taken at his wedding to Merlé.
Craven wrote over 20 books. The money from them went to feeding the Stellenbosch University bursary fund. The proceeds from this book, too, will go to the University of Stellenbosch bursary fund.
Title: Craven Stories
Compiled by Louis Blom & Hanlie Swart
Published by Sun Media
Illustrated throughout in black and white
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