THE Friends of Tatham Art Gallery (Fotag) is hosting a fundraising quiz evening at the Tatham Art Gallery in Chief Albert Luthuli Street, Pietermaritzburg, on Friday, August 12.
ESTELLE SINKINS spoke to sports commentator, Andy Capostagno, who lives in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, and will be the quiz master at the event, about the chances that the Springboks and Proteas have in the forthcoming internationals and how he feels South African sportsmen and women will fare at the Rio Olympics.
He also shares his thoughts on working as a commentator and why supporting events like the Fotag Quiz is important.
After the tight tour victory against Ireland, how much work do the Springboks need to do to deliver the goods in the Rugby Champs?
Lots and lots. They need to find a front row that works and get some balance into the back row. Personally I think that picking Duane Vermeulen and Francois Louw was a mistake. It’s the beginning of a new era and we know everything we need to know about those two players. They are there when we need them and that should be the coach’s mantra for overseas based players.
The back line needs a bit of zip and will get it when the Olympics is over through [Blitzbokke] Seabelo Senatla, Cheslyn Colbe and Juan de Jongh.
Having watched the cricket series against Australia and the West Indies, our one-day team appears a bit fragile – what are your thoughts and how do you think they will fare in the forthcoming internationals?
I think cricket is coming to terms with what rugby has gone through over the last few years. In rugby we now have a breed of player that never rests, playing Super Rugby until the end of July and then flying off to Japan or Europe to campaign for vast amounts of money.
The mushrooming of twenty over cricket that began with the IPL [Indian Premier League] is culpable. You can’t blame the players; when would you rather peak, in a nothing game in the West Indies or in the IPL with millions of dollars of bonus payments available?
The Rio Olympics are looming large and SA appears to have a few gold medal candidates – Caster Semenya, Wayde van Niekerk, Chad le Clos, the Blitz Bokke, among them. How do you think we will fare? And who do you think can bring home a medal?
I would love all our athletes to beat their personal bests. In the case of the above named that should guarantee a medal, probably gold. The Blitzbokke will feel they have let themselves down if they don’t finish in the top three. They are good enough to go all the way, but they’ll need a little luck on their side. Best of luck to all our Paralympians as well, who always bring home lots of medals.
What has been your favourite commentating gig? And what was the worst?
In 1994 I was lucky enough to spend a month in Nairobi covering the ICC Trophy, which back then was a qualifying competition for the Cricket World Cup. There was a game virtually every day and I got to see the length and breadth of a fascinating metropolis.
Two days off were really memorable; on one, a local took a bunch of the press to Lake Naivasha for the day, the setting for the movie, White Mischief. On the other, I captained the press cricket team against the Limuru Poets on a beautiful ground half an hour outside Nairobi. Poets was an acronym; it stood for, “Piss off early, tomorrow’s Saturday”.
As for the worst gig; that was probably the African Handball Championships at Wembley indoor arena in the South of Johannesburg. I had seen a couple of games in my life and Supersport sent Mike Lugg and myself to do live commentary for a week, sometime in the early nineties.
Now handball is a very simple game, with defenders, attackers and a chap who acts as a link between the two. This chap gets the ball more than any other player and in the final, which was contested by Algeria and Mali if my memory serves, the Algerian midfield general had an unpronounceable name. Something along the lines of Muhammadoula Aouchariani. And he got the ball about every five seconds. That was a long game.
Can you share a few special moments – personal and professional – you have had in your career?
In my first season commentating rugby in South Africa, 1993, I got to work with the great Bill MacLaren at Ellis Park, South Africa against France. I knew Bill a little from my days as a journalist in England, but I never thought I would get to sit in the commentary box with him. Anyway, Bill was in his 70s and slowing down and two things sustained him; his famous “sheet” (two pages of lined A4 with height, weight and something interesting about everyone involved in the game, including the physios) and his stop watch.
Bill said to me that for years the act of doing his “sheet ” was enough for all the information to go inside his head, but now he was old he actually used it because his memory wasn’t what it used to be.
And speaking of his memory, he asked me to remember to start his stopwatch when the second half began, because he had been forgetting to do it of late. Bill was old school and whenever a kick went over he would say, “It’s 6-3 and we’ve had 25 minutes.”
So after a frenetic first half, with Francois Pienaar’s Springboks battling against a streetwise French outfit, we tucked into the halftime sandwiches and Bill told me stories. The second half got underway and about 10 minutes in, Theo van Rensburg kicked a penalty and Bill said, so it’s South Africa 9, France 16 and…. you forgot to start my stopwatch.”
Here’s a nice story with a ‘Maritzburg connection. About four years ago I was down in Kimberley commentating on the Wildeklawer Schools Festival. Maritzburg College were playing in the first game of the day and the boys came onto the field to practice. Wanting to know a little about the team I walked on and found a chap who was practicing on his own.
I introduced myself and showed him the team sheet and asked if he could enlighten me. He was great, pointing out the ball carriers among the forwards and who played cricket, and who had notable parents. “Oh and don’t forget my brother Dan. He’s the number 13. He’s a great player.”
The game began and the first boy to touch the ball was the College fullback, who danced through the opposition like they weren’t there and then set up the ruck. Every time he got the ball something happened, but he hadn’t even mentioned himself before the game. And that’s how I met Jesse Kriel!
Turning to the Fotag quiz, what did you enjoy most about being quiz master last year?
Confession time; I was a dreadful sportsman. All my heroes are artists and musicians. My specialist subject at college was Dutch 17th Century painting, my thesis being on the work of Jan van Goyen, the great landscape master.
I grew up in a house where the piano was always playing. My gran was a music teacher and my mum and sister were both church organists. So the chance to stand next to a concert pianist [Christopher Duigan] in an art gallery was just about my idea of heaven.
Add to that an intelligent audience who laughed at my corny jokes and knew their Bach from their Irma Stern and I can’t remember when I ever had so much fun.
Tell people why you think they should take part in this year’s event and why you feel they should support Fotag’s fundraising efforts.
This year Christopher and I hope to make beautiful music together. Failing that, I’ll be attempting some comic monologues with piano accompaniment and singing (for want of a better word) one song to the tune of another.
In between there will be questions related to our surroundings, giving people a chance to explore the Tatham Art Gallery in ways they otherwise might never consider. The food and drink will be of a far higher standard than my singing and there are few better causes than funding an art gallery.
NEED TO KNOW
The FOTAG Quiz takes place at the Tatham Art Gallery in Chief Albert Luthuli Street, Pietermaritzburg, at 7 pm on Friday, August 12. Tickets are R120 which includes a delicious meal from Cafe Tatham. Tables seat up to 10 persons. Book now with Bryony at 033 392 2825 (mornings only) or email Bryony.Clark@msunduzi.gov.za
DID YOU KNOW?
- Andy Capostagno has worked in every section of the South African media, since arriving from the United Kingdom in 1992, fleeing, he says, the evils of Thatcherism.
- He commentates on rugby and many other sports for Supersport and was a regular guest on the award winning magazine show, Super Saturday for 10 years.
- Capostagno has written three sports based books: Jonty in Pictures, Memorable Moments in One Day Cricket and Fancourt: The Road to the Presidents Cup.
- His fourth book, Ystervarkrivier, A Slice of Life, is a collection of humorous short stories set in the mythical dorp, is extremely sought after, so quickly was it remaindered.
- Capostagno lives on a farm in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, with his wife, daughter, 12 horses, 40 cows, six geese, 12 ducks and two Dobermans.