March 31st 2005
They were known for being loud but this was something Luke had never experienced before, he thought, as he stood in the tunnel at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. It was already a nervy enough time, making your first start as a professional footballer but walking out to 80,000 fans making this level of noise didn’t help to settle them.
Kaizer Chiefs were the highflyers in the league so far, with Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates their only real challengers for the league title. For Ajax Cape Town it had been a disappointing start to the season, with the club sat in midtable.
Having merged together the two Cape Town sides, Cape Town Spurs and Seven Stars, in 1999, the formation of Ajax Cape Town hadn’t seen the results expected. The club, backed by a multimillion dollar investments from Dutch side AFC Ajax had only finished in the top half twice since the merge. Last season was certainly their best, finishing as the league's runners up, to today's opponents Kaizer Chiefs.
For Luke, he was kept on after the merge having impressed in the youth setup for a number of years. A mix of pace and skill with a real eye for the goal had stood out for the clubs staff and at age 16, Luke was asked to join the first team training once a week. Under the stewardship of one of South Africa's greatest ever managers, Gordon Igesund, Luke was delighted to be so highly valued.
He had come off the bench before making his first appearance in December 2004 in a 2-1 away win over Dynamos. Since then the young winger continued racking up minutes with his first goal coming in a 3-1 loss to Supersport. Despite the loss, manager Igesund had commented about the energy the young man brought to his team and heaped praise upon the winger.
But today was a first start, a first chance at 90 minutes to really prove his worth against the best team in the country. It was also his chance to test himself against Bafana Bafana right back Jimmy Tau.
Getting out of the tunnel and onto the pitch didn’t help Luke’s nerves but as soon as he got his first touch, those nerves quickly turned into pure determination to impress. Receiving a pass in the 2nd minute, Luke ran hard down his wing before taking on Tau initially bursting past the South African international, however the right backs experience showed as he managed to track back and intercept Lukes cross.
Luke's initial good start continued, with the 18 year old creating two massive chances for his side. But having dominated the start of the game, Kaizer Chiefs showed their class in the 30th minute, opening the games scoring through John ‘Shoes’ Moshoeu. ‘Shoes’ as the striker is affectionately known, received the ball from Thabo Mooki and the Bafana striker made no mistake in placing his shot into the bottom right corner.
With the majority of the 80,000 strong crowd still celebrating their sides opener, ‘Shoes’ added a second almost directly from kickoff. This time it was all him. From kick off the now 39 year old weaved his way between defenders before finding himself with space to shoot on the edge of the area. Like an arrow the ball flew into the top corner and again the ‘Amakhosi’ fans showed their delight.
The halftime whistle blew, only to be drowned out by the loud blows on Vuvuzela as the passionate fans celebrated. But those celebrations wouldn’t last long.
Luke was determined to mark his mark in the second half, and he didn’t waste any time in doing so. Luke again found himself deep in his own half with the ball at his feet but with acres of space in front of him. Using his blistering pace the 18 year old sped past many a hopeless tackle before using a neat bit of skill to get past Tau. With Thembinkosi Fanteni in the box, Luke swung in a devilish cross finding the striker’s head perfectly. ‘Terror’ as Fanteni was known, made no mistake, heading home to make the score 2-1.
With Chiefs more than happy to hold onto their lead heading into the dying embers of the game, Ajax Cape Town were looking less and less likely to get anything from the matchup.
Luke, once again was ready to make a name for himself.
With another attack seemingly done for, Luke picked the ball up on the half way line, he danced past ‘Shoes’, sprinted past a tiring Tau, who had been run ragged all day, before cutting inside and unleashing a curling effort from 25 yards.
The whole world seemed to stop for Luke, as he watched the ball travel in slow motion seemingly being stopped by the keeper before just in time the ball swerved just enough past his fingertips.
Before he could react, Luke was mobbed. His teammates tackled him to the floor as everyone piled in. A draw against the best team in the country away from home was a huge achievement for the club and the point had almost all been down to the great display from Luke on his debut.
As Luke and his teammates made their way back to the dressing room the youngster was on cloud nine. The day couldn’t get better. A goal and assist in his first start as a professional it was what dreams were made of. Nothing could improve today, nothing that Luke could imagine, that was until Gordon Igesund handed him a mobile phone.
“Luke, it is Danny Blind from AFC Ajax speaking”
Griffo: Who wouldn't be!?
Scott:The way in which both dealt with the blow was polar opposites. As seen when George lost his parents he struggles deeply and without Grace's support, whilst she grieves, he turns to booze, ultimately ending the relationship. Hopefully both characters are able to find love and happiness in the future.