Where Are They Now? Part 1

The Stephan Oval erupts with jubilation, as the Hammies boys put in yet another sterling performance. The Community Cup, semi-finalists, reaping the rewards of hard work and dedication. No one man more dedicated than Mike Stakemire.

Arguably one of the most recognisable administrators in Western Cape club rugby, Mike or “Steak Knife” to his friends, epitomises professionalism in the club game. Known for his astute man-management, Mike juggles a young family along with his responsibilities as General Manager of South Africa’s oldest rugby club, Hamiltons RFC.

Born in Mowbray, Mike went on to matriculate from Marist Brothers, where he played scrum-half for the 1st team. It was here that his passion for the game of rugby was cultivated. After school, Mike studied Business Management at Cape Tech. It was around this time Mike joined Villager FC playing in the u20 ranks. A move to management in 2004 saw him take over the 3rd Team. By 2006 he had progressed to 1st Team manager. Mike spent eight good years at Brookside, setting a standard not many have been able to emulate.

As the face of rugby changed, so did Mike’s desire and a move to Villager rivals, Hamiltons was the logical step. A Financial Advisor by trade, he embraced the role at Hammies with gusto and has been there ever since. A keen golfer, Mike is not afforded much time on the course owing to his hectic rugby schedule; he does however have all the time in the world for his precious young son, Jack.

We caught up with “Steak Knife”, leading into the 139th Hamiltons vs Villager Derby Day.

Q1.) Hi Mike, thanks for taking the time to have a chat. What was your motivation back in the day, to join Villager FC?

At the time there were only two clubs of choice, Villager and Hamiltons. I was approached by Cambell MaCraw to go to Hamiltons (through his involvement with CBC) but Tubby Teubes was an integral part of my life at Marist Brothers and he convinced me to come to Villagers. Also Adrian Laros was an old boy of Marist and was the then 1st Team captain.

Q2.) With that in mind, who were the real characters of Brookside, in those years?

In the old days we had many characters to mention. I remember the likes of Andrew and Gary Kirsten, getting up to tricks. The Swanepoel brothers were also famous for off the field antics. There was Nobby Stiles a stalwart of the 1st team who could play anything on the piano. In the old days there was no negotiation as everybody went back to the clubhouse even on away games. The things that happened at Hard Rock Café should rather be left there.

Q3.) Have you any funny stories you could relay?

Our captain of the U20 A side broke his hand in a fight the night before at the Heidelberg Bar. He arrived and told the captain he was throwing keys to someone and his hand hit the parking meter. There are a few other stories but what goes on tour stays on tour. I can mention Mr Peter de Villiers hugging the big white phone after a heavy evening of fines in Riebeeck Kasteel, upon his return from France to coach at Villager, not that any others were in a better state, but good team spirit was created… or Neil Cleghorn swan dive into a fish pond which he mistook for a pool……

Q4.) Having worked alongside some of the biggest names in the club game, who in your opinion are the stand out coaches and or players of your generation?

Phew……. to single out an individual coach would be unfair, but certain mention must go to Anton Moolman, who taught me a lot (especially in the early days) about people management and looking after players. Paul Kaplan brought a soft and special approach to the players and finally Peter de Villiers who had an unbelievable relationship with the players and a huge knowledge of forward play and the dynamics of the game. From the player prospective, I have come across many players of different approaches. Jake Boer, who joined us from Gloucester, brought 100% to every game, even when injured. However the highlight of management must be to see players growing and leaving the club to higher levels. Tyrone Holmes, who has an unbelievable work ethic (having come from Fish Hoek High), now, progressed into being picked for the Scotland squad. Conrad Marais also another player to be snapped up by the French leagues as was Lionelle van Staden. Players like Chumani Booi moved onto to
Currie Cup level. This is always rewarding for a coach or manager. Unfortunately the current system within WP limits the availability of provincial players to either play for their club or be selected from clubs to represent WP. I believe the system used at the Sharks should be used in the Cape, whereby players not selected for the Provincial teams are released to play club rugby on a Saturday… this will improve the level of rugby and hopefully bring spectators back to the game

Q5.) With the 139th Villager FC vs Hamiltons Derby Day, just around the corner, what are your thoughts on the “changes” made at Villager?

At this stage things seem to be going well, with 9 wins in a row in the League. I understand that there are still tough games ahead, with some big games to come. We are looking forward to seeing Villager back in the top flight of rugby next year.

Q6.) Favourite Villager memory?

It has to be playing in the team that beat Hamiltons 2nd team 103 – 0 back in the day. Or sitting on the 1st team bench (even though I did not get game time) at Newlands in the days when club rugby was played at Newlands Stadium…….something that should be brought back