Bon voyage Newlands: Goggie's moment
SPOTLIGHT: The grande dame that is the Newlands stadium may already have hosted her last-ever rugby match.
Acclaimed @rugby365com writer Paul Dobson – in the fourth of his series – takes a look at one of the five greatest occasions at the venue.
In this episode, he looks at the Currie Cup Final of 1986 – when Goggie van Heerden stole the limelight.
Look at what happened at Newlands when the final whistle went and you know that Newlands had participants, not spectators. In fact, this match the Currie Cup final in 1986 was a special match even for Newlands. It was charged with high emotion from beginning to end.
It also contained a lesson, reinforced by the 2019 World Cup Final – that being the favourites to win a match does not guarantee victory.
Transvaal came down to the Cape as hot favourites. They arrived with the walk and talk of victors. After all they had beaten Orange Free State in the Lion Cup Final, after the Free Staters had given Province a hiding.
President Louis Luyt, captain Jannie Breedt and the rest could not but have more been confident of victory. They looked like victors before the first whistle had been blown.
(Continue reading below … )
27 September 1986: Western Province v Transvaal
Newlands was having none of it. On a warm day in spring, 45 000 people sang and danced their way into the great ground. The singing gave way to cheering, ending in high notes of triumph after a convincing home victory.
Why Transvaal were so confident is not obvious. After all Western Province had won the Currie Cup in the four previous seasons and in the last meeting between the two sides had beaten Transvaal 20-12.
The final score was 22–9 in favour of Western Province.
Transvaal must have believed that things would go there way when centre Hugo van As charged down a clearing kick by Chris Smit just outside the Province 22. Van As scrambled after the ball, got it and scored with nobody near him. Liaan Kirkham converted. 6-0 after six minutes.
Province were next to score. From a maul, Freddie Ferreira went blind and passed straight to Faffa Knoetze who had big Neil Burger on his outside. Knoetze cut in sightly, beat four defenders and scored. 6-4, the half-time score.
Province goaled two penalties, Transvaal one, and just before the 80 minutes were up, the score was 10-9 to Province. But it was not over. The scintillating, breathtaking, best was still to come.
From a scrum on Province’s right, Ferreira broke inside John Robbie and passed to Smit. Smit immediately passed to Goggie van Heerden who was about 11 metres inside his own half. The centre had Carel du Plessis on his left, and the Prince of Wings would be regarded as more of a threat than the tall centre. If that was the defence’s judgement it was immediately proved wrong for Van Heerden raced straight down his line for 61 metres, past four defenders and plunged to ground for a try. Right wing Clark Ellis, grandson of Springbok Ginger Clark, converted.
While Ellis was lining up the conversion, a remarkable photograph was taken. The Western Province front five – Schalk Burger, Niel Hugo, Keith Andrews, William Cockrell and Bill Nieuwoudt – lined up and posed while their photograph was taken. They had just dominated Transvaal at a scrum and decided that they had broken Transvaal, broken the dam wall. They were the dam-busters. Arms around each other, a photographer, sneaking onto the field, snapped them.
16-9, and the match was already in injury time.
Transvaal got the ball from a lineout on their right. Schalk Naudé, the Transvaal flyhalf, chipped ahead but Province’s scrumhalf Ferreira came sweeping round, caught the ball on the full and gave to Van Heerden, going right. Van Heerden gave to fullback Calla Scholtz who made ground before passing to Ellis. Ellis sped away and then threw a long, high pass inside to Van Heerden who went over to score under the posts.
While he was still in the process of scoring, the crowd from the standing room on the south side of the ground raced in ragged joy onto the field, making for their new hero.
Touch judge Fransie Muller came on to “rescue” Van Heerden who was the least likely victim in the Western Cape at that time, the hero.
Asked about the match, Dawie Snyman referred to it immediately as “Goggie’s match”. Born in Cradock, schooled at Grey College in Bloemfontein, Goggie van Heerden, 1,96 m tall, whose real first name is Johan, was a student at Stellenbosch University at the time of this match. He now lives in Otjiwarongo in Namibia.
When something like this happens, there is no wonder that teams prefer to go into matches labelled underdogs and have even been known to squabble to see who has earned the title.
The Western Province players’ reward for winning the Currie Cup. No money – but a luxurious holiday in Mauritius and lifelong friendships and lifelong memories.
For Western Province:
Tries: Knoetze, Van Heerden 2
Cons: Ellis 2
Pens: Smit, Ellis
Try: Van As
Western Province: Calla Scholtz, Carel du Plessis (captain), Goggie van Heerden, Faffa Knoetze, Clark Ellis, Chris Smit, Freddie Ferreira, Gert Smal, Deon Lötter, Tiaan Strauss, Schalk Burger, Niel Hugo, Keith Andrews, Shaun Povey (replaced by William Cockrell in the first half), Bill Nieuwoudt
Transvaal: Jannie Tiedt, Liaan Kirkham, Dries Maritz, Hugo van As, Hempas Rademeyer, Schalk Naudé, John Robbie, Jannie Breedt (captain), Andries Fourie, Wahl Bartmann, Lappies Labuschagne, Daan Badenhorst, Piet Kruger, Chris Rogers, Barabas Venter
Referee: Steve Strydom (Orange Free State)