Until we meet again, my good friend

Shifaan Ryklief

Although blessed with pair of talented hands used to add the final touches to the delicate decorations that adorned many a birthday or wedding cake, Dougie Carelse, 72, found fame with a soccer ball at his feet.

While most remembered him as a cool, calm and collected soccer player, Carelse, who died two weeks ago after short battle with cancer, was also a national table tennis champion and first team cricket player.

Carelse’s brother in-law, Ivan Dagnin, 76, was among a number of prominent former soccer players who attended a memorial service for him, in Salt River last week.

Carelse’s sister, Audrey, whom Dagnin married, introduced him to Dougie. The two eventually became teammates at Woodside in the 1960s and were part of the squad that won four consecutive Maggot Cup finals.

“I played as a centre-back and Dougie a midfielder. He was a naturally gifted soccer player and very composed on the ball.

“He never scored many goals because he was always instrumental in setting up the goals – he had a good eye and an exceptional final pass,” said Dagnin.

“Winning the Maggot Cup was special to me because we beat my old team in the final. I captained the side that season and the next; and Dougie captained the following two seasons where we won the cup again both times.

“But, if there was one match that stands out for me, it was a game on the A field at William Herbert.

“I remember we had a free-kick at the halfway line which I took.

“I saw Dougie making a run down the right hand side, so I lobbed the ball in his direction and into the box.

“He rose high, his timing was perfect and he headed the ball into the back of the net. I’m a defender so it was seldom we were both involved in a goal,” he said.

“Dougie’s father, John, was a member at the Green Point-based Silver Crowns Cricket Club,” said Dagnin, who met his wife Audrey one evening after soccer training – she was a scorekeeper at a cricket game.

“Dougie also played first team cricket at Silver Crowns and played some baseball at Woodside. He was an all-round sportsman,” he said.

Western Province table tennis stalwart, Hasie Ismail also remembers Carelse well.

He said 1962 and 1968 were two significant years in table tennis history, in Cape Town – and, that Carelse played a pivotal role in both those years.

“Dougie won the Western Province championships twice and represented WP four times – in 1962, 1964, 1966 and 1968.

“In 1962, the national champs for soccer and table tennis were at the same time, in Durban. Dougie was chosen for both sport codes which meant he had to choose.

“He chose table tennis which left his soccer teammates very upset because he was their key player,” said Ismail.

“In 1968, WP beat Southern Natal who were the reigning champs. It was a great achievement because WP last won the nationals in 1952.

“That year, the tournament was held in Cape Town, and Dougie was part of the winning team – along with Pedro Meyer, Billy Naidoo and myself.

“He stopped playing the following year. Dougie was magic,” he said.

Ismail said Carelse was very unpredictable with the table-tennis paddle, and that he could change the game in an instant.

“Dougie was the most mentally controlled player. He was calm, smooth and composed.

“You’d think you knew what he was going to do next, but just like that, he would change the game.

“Also, his footwork was magnificent and that’s also why he was great on the soccer field.

“I started playing in 1963, and first played against Dougie in 1964 – and have never beaten him. His younger brother, Derek, was also fantastic with the bat.

“They were both playing at provincial level,” he said.

– Additional reporting by Fuad Esack