The white boy flushed with success in a black league

23 August 2009 - 11:33 By BARENG-BATHO KORTJAAS

"IT IS a shit business but it works," chirps Frank "Jingles" Pereira of his toilet paper manufacturing company. At least the third white player to join Kaizer Chiefs - Lucky Stylianou and goalkeeper Rob Rassenati were the first two - was not a crap player.

His sharpshooting skills caused a stink in the erstwhile National Football League and the National Professional Soccer League, where he scored 276 goals in a career spanning 20 years.

He was known as Jingles and there is a jolly tale behind the name. Playing for Stewarts & Lloyds, the 10-year-old always had two pennies in his pocket as his good-luck charm.

"The pennies tinkled every time I ran on the field and one senior player, Bobby Farrel, would say: 'Go on Jingle Bells, go on.'"

The owner of Riverside Distributors in downtown Johannesburg, Pereira, 63, still keeps the same pennies in his wallet.

He laughs when he says the company is not just about toilet paper. "We also produce products such as kitchen towels, serviettes, garage rolls and the like.

"I run it with two of my brothers-in-law. We employ 40 people who come in to do an honest day's work."

Honesty is big part of Pereira's outlook in life, a trait he believes is missing from some of the present generation of players.

"You can see players go onto the field and go through the motions. They just have it too easy. You can see the guy is not in the game because he has no blood on the shins. We didn't earn much back in the day, but we were honest to the fans."

Pereira turned professional in 1963 with Vaal United and later joined Powerlines, scoring 20 goals in three months.

The amalgamation of Powerlines and Highlands Park gave birth to the Joe Frickleton-coached Highlands Power, from which Pereira switched to play under Eddie Lewis at Jewish Guild.

A record-fee move to Cape Town City followed and the deadly finisher ended at the summit of the National Football League's sharpshooters' chart with 26 goals as City were crowned champions in 1973.

The same scenario played itself out three years later, City claiming another league title while Pereira grabbed the Golden Boot for his 20 goals.

Having started as a striker, Pereira was shunted to shut the back door at Chiefs when Mario Tuani, "my first coach of reckoning", converted him to a centreback.

The circumstances that led to his conversion echo those faced by Kaizer Motaung jnr. Chiefs defender Jackie Masike was a victim of the boo brigade's vitriol. They barracked him for passing the ball back to goalkeeper Banks Setlhodi.

"The crowd got on his case so bad that Tuani substituted him. He then shifted me to the back and brought on Shaka Ngcobo as a striker."

Pereira's profuse protestations - "I had never played as a defender in my life" - were dismissed by Tuani, who "instructed me to just play my normal game".

Pereira fitted like a foot in a boot, playing as a sweeper in a human roadblock comprising Simon "Bull" Lehoko, Nick "Yster" Sikwane on the left and Johannes "Ryder" Mofokeng on the right.

He thinks a change of scene might do Motaung jnr a world of good.

"I think he needs counselling because the booing may get to him. Maybe it will be good for him to go somewhere else where he can play without worry."

Pereira was brought up on a farm and got his skills playing with the black labourers' children.

"At school, teachers wanted me to play rugby. When I told them I wanted to play soccer they told me it was a black man's sport ... I said I would rather play that.

"It was like a second breath. I was loved and respected by the fans and here I am, still in one piece."

There were some culture shocks, especially on Friday nights when Chiefs were in camp.

"Our late masseur, Joe Mashinini, would gather the troops and shout: 'Guys, come for a sauna.' The sauna was the primus stove with a pot full of boiling herbs. We had to cover ourselves with blankets and steam.

"When I told him I could not breathe he said: 'Hang in there my boy, the sauna will make you a better person.' I never had a problem with the use of umuthi, but I did not want to be cut because it was against my religion."

While football brought him joy, his faith was tested on the personal front as he endured tragedy.

"My second wife was killed in a car crash four years after we married. It was terrible, but God never gives you more than you can handle."

He is now married to his third wife, Helena.

Tears welled in his eyes when he went to watch Chiefs play Moroka Swallows at the newly renovated Orlando Stadium, which has been spruced up to a modern 40000-seat world-class arena.

"To see it the way it is now was so emotional. My greatest memory of the venue was when we beat Orlando Pirates in the final of the 1982 Mainstay Cup. We drew 1-1 and in the replay we won 2-1."

Pereira believes in reincarnation. "If I could, I would come back as a footballer and play for Chiefs and Bafana Bafana."

Who knows, maybe he would help stop Chiefs being so crap.