Tribute to the Late Eric (Bux) Damon
It is indeed a privilege to pay Tribute on behalf of Northern Cape Cricket, the Sportsmen and woman, friends, and the Community of the Northern Cape to a wonderful, gentle, and humble individual. As we extend our sincere condolences to the Damon and extended families, we are equally grateful that we could be the recipients and share in the character of such an excellent Sportsman.
Bux, as we all knew him, played for the Young Collegians RFC. The Damon family synonymous with sport excellence and Bux followed in the footsteps of his late father, Eric Snr, who was also a founder member of the Club. Rugby and Cricket was firmly embedded in is DNA as he represented his Province from his Primary School days. His all-round talent for sport was one of the reasons why he literally grew up on the sport fields. Eric played cricket for Olympian Wanderers and achieved his Provincial colours in cricket. He was not only big in stature but possessed a big desire to enable his team, province, and country to achieve sport excellence. It was indeed in Rugby that he made his name.
At a very young age, he was drafted into the Collegians senior team and in that very same year, he was selected to play for Griqualand West. As one of the youngest players in the Provincial Team, he shared the stage with legends such as the late Piet Van Wyk, Dennis Jacobs, and many who had been denied the privilege to ply their skills nationally and inter-nationally. He was a principled sportsman who under the ambit of the South African Council of Sport (SACOS) and SARU who subscribed to the doctrine of no normal sport in an abnormal society.
He also continued to play way beyond the time when many of his peers retired to afford an opportunity to younger players to share in his skills. What made him such an exceptional player is perhaps the fact that his late father would not unduly praise him, but rather point out what he should have done better. He knew the limitations of his God-given talent and amidst his huge and intuitive awareness of his talent, he remained a humble and true ambassador of sport, both on and off the field.
His brother-in-law Mark Christians in his tribute, remarks, “The Young Collegians Trio hunted in a pack and if Bux faltered, uncharacteristically in his technique, his team-mates were there to back him up. The astute tactician of the game and Captain Basil Alexander. Toby (Suction) Ferris, strong as an ox Richard Jacobs, Tubby Jacobs, Hilary Ferris, the late Hennie Adams and Cuan Hartzenberg, formed a formidable team of forwards. Bux was a key player and part of the G.W.R.F.U. Dream Team 1973 when they contested the final of the South African Cup Final under the auspices of SARU and SACOS. They lost by a narrow margin in this final and he was only 20 years old at that stage.
Bux captained the Collegians team in 1981 which won almost every available Trophy, except for the Blacklaws Shield which was won by Thistles after 13 years. In 1992, he was appointed as Captain of the SARU President’s Team, a monumental achievement for a rugby player, especially from a smaller Union like Griqualand West. It was not easy for players from GW as a smaller union to make these teams as the selectors were primarily from other provinces.
This lanky flanker with his renowned white headband could navigate effortlessly with ball in hand, warding off his opponents at an unassuming pace. Greg Bestenbier in his tribute remarked, “He cantered awkwardly from the loose scrum with the oval ball in hand in a deceptive lazy lope that lulled opposing forwards into a false sense of complacency”.
Those who were fortunate to play with this great gentle giant and Doyen of rugby, can attest to his remarkable IQ of the game. It was an absolute marvel, inspirational and pleasure to witness the passionate rivalry of our Rugby teams on a Saturday afternoon at the Union Grounds. Bux was a true gentleman of the game on and off the field of play. Shy in nature, soft spoken and clothed in humility are superlatives which described his character. His achievements in sport did not change his nature, he was a true Team member.
The oppressive and inhumane laws of this country prior to our unification, denied this exceptionally talented man an opportunity to grace the international arena and rub shoulders with the World’s greatest rugby players.
Sport and in particular the cricket and rugby fraternity will always be filled with respect, affection, and great admiration for this humble, intelligent, and selfless sport personality.
A common analogy of his life could aptly be described by the lyrics of the song My Way by Frank Sinatra.
“For what is a man, what has he got,
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things, he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way”
A great thanks and appreciation to his family and those who took the liberty of stopping to encourage, assist and offer support in his moments of struggle. We salute a great sportsman.
Northern Cape Cricket extends condolences to his family and all the people who loved him.