Simon Murray to add to Scottish links to South African football
Simon Murray will have some pressure on his shoulders when he makes his debut in the Premier Soccer League -- likely at the weekend -- coming from the top-flight in Scotland.
Bidvest Wits paid over a nominal sum to secure the services of the 26-year-old, who has been brought in to try and end the club's scoring woes after a campaign they battled relegation for most of the 2017/18 campaign.
Murray has been with the 2017 champions over the last month, but his signing was only made formal by the club last week.
He began his professional career with Montrose before going on to play for Arbroath and Dundee United, whom he helped to win the 2016/17 Scottish Challenge Cup.
Murray joined Hibernian last season and scored seven goals in his first four appearances, but after six months was loaned back to Dundee. Wits have since paid a reported £150 000 for his services.
It's been a while since a Scotsman made an impact in South African football, but ties between the two countries on the pitch go back almost right to the first time a ball was kicked on South African soil by British soldiers -- Scots surely among them -- on the Green Point common in Cape Town.
Aberdeen and Motherwell twice came on tour before World War II, while South African-born Alec Bell went over to play at Ayr and then Manchester United, and was capped by Scotland in 1912.
After the War, Pretoria-born John Hewie played for Scotland at the World Cup in 1958 -- the first South African to compete in the finals -- famously scoring an own-goal.
There was a steady exodus of top South African talent to clubs in Scotland; the best known among them being Don Kitchenbrand, the Rangers Rhino, and John Hubbard, the penalty king at Ibrox in the mid-50s. Hubbard, who hailed from Pretoria's Berea Park, scored 106 goals in 198 matches, and did not miss a penalty for seven years.
Coming in the other direction, Scots have had a significant influence on the domestic game, with some names that still resonate locally.
When the National Soccer League, forerunner to today's PSL, first kicked off in 1985, the top scorer that season was Mike Mangena of champions Bush Bucks and Falkirk-born Frank McGrellis, who got 25 goals for Wits. He was a prolific scorer in his four years in the country. McGrellis arrived in June 1982 and on debut for Highlands Park scored the first ever goal at Ellis Park after rugby authorities relented to allow soccer teams to use the Johannesburg venue. When Jomo Sono bought Highlands the next year he made an error by allowing McGrellis to go to Wits, where he was runner-up in the scorer charts in 1983 before co-winning the 1985 Golden Boot. McGrellis left South Africa in 1987 to play in Australia.
A no-nonsense wing-half who played over 100 games for East Stirlingshire before moving to South Africa in 1964, and being a part of the Highlands Park glory side of the 60s. He won three three championships before retiring and going on to be even more famous as a coach. He won the first multi-racial title with Lusitano in 1978 -- although he quit before the end of the season -- did the same with Highlands Park in 1980, and coached the South Africa XI against the British All Stars. Frickleton's biggest success came when he coached the Kaizer Chiefs team of 1984 to a domestic clean sweep. A decade later he was at the helm as Orlando Pirates headed to the country's first success in African club competition, winning the 1995 Champions Cup, although Irvin Khoza fired him before the second leg of the final in Abidjan.
Originally from Dundee, Forbes made his name at Arsenal and was a league winner in 1948, as well as playing 14 times for Scotland. He had already retired when he took up a job offer in Johannesburg, and in 1975 became coach of Orlando Pirates, in the days when the league was still segregated along racial lines. In tandem with Des Backos, he saw (Johannesburg) Rangers to the NSL title in 1986.
In 1987, the only championship success of Jomo Cosmos was achieved under the tutelage of Matthews, a former Charlton Athletic midfielder who came out to Pretoria to play for Arcadia Shepherds, and who was one of the mainstays of their 1974 treble-winning team. He also coached Arcadia and SuperSport United. What the kids from the townships fathomed of his broad Scots accent was always the subject of much mirth.
Glasgow-born but a player at Charlton Athletic, Gough arrived in South Africa in 1965 and, along with fellow Scots Frickleton and Willie McIntosh, dominated the old National Football League with Highlands Park. But he is probably more famous as the father of Tottenham and Rangers star Richard Gough, who grew up at Wits but went onto play for Scotland at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
Also from Glasgow, Hume played for Rangers in the 1961 European Cup Winners' Cup and then later was at Aberdeen. At Highlands Park he won three league titles and three cups between 1965 and 1972, and stayed on in Johannesburg after retiring. He was killed, aged just 56, in a 1997 carjacking.
Although no Scot, Danish legend Johansen came to South Africa after playing over 150 games for Rangers -- first joining Cape Town City in 1970, and then going onto Arcadia, where he managed their treble-winning side of 1974 with eccentric, yet successful methods. At Rangers he scored a 25-yard goal to win the 1966 Scottish Cup final against archrivals Celtic, becoming the first foreign player to score in the final. He played in the 1967 European Cup Winners' Cup final where Rangers lost 1-0 in extra-time to Bayern Munich.