Jacket Notes | Mike Greenaway on 'The Fireside Springbok'
Mike Greenaway discusses writing his book 'The Fireside Springbok'
I'm sure many a book idea was born during the inactivity of the Covid-19 lockdown that beset South Africa in 2020. Mine was to celebrate my 25th birthday in rugby writing with a collection of memoirs from covering Springbok rugby.
I waded through scrapbooks of cuttings and explored online libraries only to find that much of my stories had dated or were no longer relevant. Still, the tributes I had done to unique individuals or events had stood the test of time, and always will because heroes and heroics never die.
A timeline of Springbok history began to form, but I found there were vast gaps so I began the most rewarding research I have done since I was a history student at the University of Natal in the '80s and had pored over yellowing newspapers in the Killie Campbell Museum in Durban for a thesis on the Zulu Rebellion of 1906.
I dusted off books about the Springboks written by long-deceased doyens of sports writing, from the origins of the Boks in the 1890s when kindly British teams toured the Cape to teach the colonials the game, the amateur era across two world wars and beyond to the '80s, to the birth of the professional era in 1995 which, mercifully, coincided with the transformation of the Boks.
And the deeper I delved, the greater my fascination for the rich tapestry of tales from the last 130 years of Springbok rugby.
As the title of this book suggests, I settled on a collection of heart-warming stories that will bring a smile to a reader perhaps ensconced in an easy chair, next to a glowing fire and enjoying a favourite tipple.
This book took a year to research and another year to write. There were days when I wondered if I would have sufficient resources to make it happen. In those trying times, I visualised SuperSport book reviewer Andy Capostagno holding up my book on his show, Cover to Cover, and giving it a good rating.
There was a surreal moment in October of this year when Andy materialised on my TV screen and there was The Fireside Springbok, in all its glory, with a 10 out of 10 rating.
The stars lined up for me when — through no design — the publication date coincided with the Springboks’ departure for France to defend their World Cup title.
We know what happened six weeks later and when I sneak peeks at my book in leading bookshops, my goosebumps suggest some things were meant to be.
The Fireside Springbok by Mike Greenaway is published by Blue Weaver Marketing.