Sunday, 1 January 2012
Peter Roebuck: Is this the final, damning truth? Can it be any clearer?
But my twitter mate Arthur Matebula (www.twitter.com/@bossarthur) changed all that when he sent me a link to Adam Shand's piece on Roebuck, printed in the New Year's Day edition of the Melbourne Age in Australia.
On the day of his death, and given the circumstances surrounding his plunge from a sixth floor hotel window, I watched all the glowing eulogies drop. What a great man Roebuck was, they said, waxing lyrical about how he was never scared to tell the truth. Bollocks. So I wrote http://neal-collins.blogspot.com/2011/11/peter-roebuck-eulogy-nobody-will-have.html, tagged "The Eulogy Nobody Will Have the Courage to Publish".
I also took the time to warn the Johannesburg Star's chief sports writer Kevin McCallum not to eulogise too glowingly about a man convicted of abusing three South African teenagers. He chose to ignore my advice and told readers of his once-respectable tome to wear black armbands at The Wanderers for Roebuck when the second Test between South Africa took place a few days later.
The response to my blog and subsequent warnings was immediate and overwhelming.
McCallum blocked me on Twitter, the rest of the cricket writers, Australian and South African, accused me of homophobia and bitterness. Go to the blog now. Read the 200 comments that came in. Many of them were disgusting but delivered from behind the coward's shield of anonymity.
Most were from cricket lovers, some were from transparently sent by cricket writers I have frequently shared a press box - and a drink - with.
The truth is contained, emphatically, in Shand's lengthy, carefully researched piece http://www.theage.com.au/sport/cricket/the-roebuck-tragedy-a-tale-of-love-beatings-and-blackmail-20111231-1pgmk.html
You hope for apologies in these situations. When you get it right and everybody else gets it so badly wrong. You hope people will appreciate the courage it took to write that blog that day. And you hope that they will finally recognise the logic behind it.
How can we eulogise about a cricket writer who preyed on young men, using his status as an international globe-trotter to attract young men? I'd always suspected it, but the manner of his death was final confirmation. And I couldn't have been the only person who realised that.
A man who set up charities and a home near Pietermaritzburg to further his warped, perverted habits, so clearly revealed by Shand's piece had to be exposed.
But no. Apologies are scarce. Instead, the great and the good of cricket held a major commemoration of Roebuck's death at Sydney last month before the Test match against New Zealand.
His estranged family in England have used the alarming silence on Roebuck's true nature to launch an anti-South African tirade, suggesting the police were in some way responsible for his death. I must question their motives.
And just today, Luke Alfred writes a piece in the South African Sunday Times, completely missing the point and lauding Roebuck for his attack on Zimbabwe and their president Robert Mugabe.
Of course, those attacks were motivated by Roebuck's need to impress his young, penniless Zimbabwean students at Straw Hat farm in Pietermaritzburg, an attempt to further his perverted empire.
Roebuck got away with masquerading as a kindly old buffer for years, as the Age proves today. His mates in the cricket-writing clique chose to ignore his procilivities, choosing to see them as mere eccentricities.
A former public school boy with a penchant for handing out hidings? No. More than that. The bloke was a predator, a manipulator of helpless youngsters who depended on him.
That's the truth. I'm glad I wrote it. Ashamed of those who chose to ignore the evidence, preferring to eulogise about his undeniable cricket writing skills.
So to Howard Donaldson, Malcolm Conn, Kevin McCallum and the rest, read http://neal-collins.blogspot.com/2011/11/peter-roebuck-eulogy-nobody-will-have.html and http://www.theage.com.au/sport/cricket/the-roebuck-tragedy-a-tale-of-love-beatings-and-blackmail-20111231-1pgmk.html.
Then tell me if I was right. And apologise. You can find a link to do just that immediately below this blog. And don't hide behind the anonymous tag to have another blast. Nobody should stoop so low.