Summerhill Stars / Leigh Willson (p)

Summerhill Stars / Leigh Willson (p)


Hey, you city slickers must not take this too lightly. Football is alive and well in KwaZulu-Natal, no more so than in the Midlands, where we’ve spawned a generation of the country’s top professionals, not to mention a couple of Comrades gold medallists and some first class racehorse breeders.

Nothing could be more topical though, with the kick-off last week of the Fifa World Cup, than football, and Summerhill’s performance in the Midlands Championships at the weekend was something akin to the Netherlands drubbing of Spain.

In the past couple of seasons, it’s been a case of “where Summerhill plays, Summerhill reigns”, something the studs of this country will attest to as far as the Thoroughbred Breeders Association of South Africa’s Annual Inter-Farm competition at the National Sales is concerned. Inaugurated in 2011, our squad took home that trophy for the third consecutive year in 2013, entitling them to keep it in perpetuity. If ever there was any doubt about their supremacy, that was put to bed this year, when they soared home in the final by six goals.

They’ve long been the local district supremos, with a record that stretches back some decades, but this past weekend was not inter-district, it was the whole caboodle. This was the Midlands Championships, embracing teams as far afield as the capital, and while it’s one thing to play for your club at a professional level, when you come to play in the Midlands Championship, it’s a bit like Australia’s State Of Origin. The teams in this competition are laden with city pros, while ours is drawn solely from the ranks of the farm, get-up-and-go grooms, jockeys, tractor drivers, stable hands, you name it. The one thing they have in common is the work ethic they bring to the morning roll-call, a can-do attitude that says there are no problems in the world you can’t solve, and a steely resolve that’s worked for them for years now.

Fourteen teams converged on Nottingham Road for the big sponsored prize, and if you want to go home triumphant, like those that will be F.A. Cup champions, you’ve got to win all four rounds of the knock-out.

We’ve had some good teams in the past, and the old-timers on the farm keep harking back to the “good old days”, but the reality is, the good old days were not quite what we all make them out to be. These boys are the real deal, as their 6-1, 3-0, 4-1 and 4-0 margins clearly testify.

Nobody holds a monopoly on a championship, least of all those of us whose business is the breeding of racehorses. The one inevitability about being champion, is that one day you won’t be one: the same applies as much to our footballers as it does to Summerhill itself, and we shouldn’t lose sight of the glory of this moment. Tonight, we can all raise a glass to the Summerhill Stars.

summerhill stud, south africa

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