Fiiiish (top right) leading the charge in celebrating the famous 2004 Intervaristy win
It’s the end of an era as Vakai ‘Fish’ Hove hangs up his blue and white jersey after nine passionate years at UCT rugby. We have started to collect some sories about the Ikeys star who leaves such a huge legacy – here the first part.
It is hard to imagine that the “Fish Time” would come to an end. “Fish Time” of course was Vakai at his best with a storming run on the field or one of his famous chirps or stories off the field that had his ever appreciative audience in stitches or shaking their head in disbelief. Vakai is synonymous with a generation of Ikeys that saw the club into the new millenium and his legacy as one of its champions is undeniable.
Fish burst onto the UCT rugby scene coming to Cape Town from Zimbabwe and quickly made a name for himself starting at U21 level in 2000 and has since played countless 1st team matches for his club. A character of note with the spark and charisma of a rockstar, he earned the respect of players on the Green Mile and right through Western Province rugby at representative and club level.
A fiercly competitive prop with a flank pedigree much like Springbok Beast Mtawarira, his career may have taken him to similar heights – and the UCT crowds with their chants of “Feeeeeeeeeesh” that went with all of his storming runs and spectacular tries were certainly ready to stand up and do the same for him at Newlands in the Currie Cup or at Super14 level.
A crucial injury at a crucial time unfortunately denied him that step that seemed almost inevitable, but it didn’t stop him from fighting back and adding more excellent seasons and outrageous memories to his great career.
Fish was a rugby legend when he left Harare’s Prince Edward highschool and in true style he stamped his passion, commitment and character on all the UCT teams he played for, leaving the Green Mile with a legacy that is hard to match.
His experience and spirited approach to the game has been invaluable in this season’s 1st XV as well and it is a huge loss to the team to see him leave the club before the season (or even another season) is finished, but urgent family obligations back in Zimbabwe had to take priority.
To sum up the ‘Fish Time’ in a mere article would be futile, so we will collect a number of the great Fish stories and memories and share them with you on uctrfc.co.za. Fish with his ever reliable sense of publicity certainly won’t mind, even though it may be a bit of a push to use some of the stories as character references.
From all of us a UCT: Thanks, you legend!
Fish celebrating a try in the Green Mile with team mates Snoopy Knoop, Dave Ricketts and Paul Waldburger
John Dobson Ikey Tigers Coach (2008 – current):
There is no doubt that this is the end of a wonderful era at Varsity. Fish has been an absolute institution at UCT driving coach after coach demented as he outlasted them all. On Thursday night, as tears rolled down Fishy’s cheeks, I would have also shed a tear if I wouldn’t have come across like Elton John. But it was very sad. They say all good things must end, but there is no doubt that none of us imagined life at the club without Fish.
For the joy, the humour, the considerable challenges, the commitment, the boundless pride and excellent rugby that he gave us. He is such a talented capable decent young man and I wanted him to play another eight years for varsity as he filled the role of living and playing legend, for that is what he is – a legend. His stories are legend. I feel as we have had a member of our family ripped away and maybe, Fishy, sometimes we took you for granted, and we did fight and you did sulk, but I am going to miss you more than you realise.
Come back and play another season when things are settled. You epitomise the Varsity Man.
Phil Kilroe UCTRFC Vice President
Fish you have been a wonderful club man for many a year. We are all sad to see you go and hope it will not be long before we see you back in Cape Town again. You have made a massive contribution to the First XV over many seasons. In particular who can forget your storming game in the 2004 Intervarsity win at Stellenbosch. All the best.
Phil Venter – former UCT U21 A2 coach and current 1st XV assistant
I was fortunate to be Fishmongers 1st coach at the “U” with a young and much fatter Martin Bey.
Those 2 years of u20 where without doubt the most remarkable seasons I have been a part of at UCT and Fish was at the forefront of some stupendous results such as twice beating Maties A1s (we where our A2s team!) He was our enforcer, our ball carrier and our “go-to” guy. His skills improved so much he even played a few games on the flank with the likes of Dan Palm and JP du Plessis etc.
What years! I remember Brent Russell cutting Stellies to pieces on Koetzenburg and Feesh supported his 1st few breaks with fervour….but after the 10th or 11th linebreak I remember him walking toward me saying “coach water please he’s gone!!” while waving to the Maties saying “You wont catch him!!!”
I mentioned Fish played flank…he loved it! But I think it fair to say that The good Lord above made Fish for one thing. The Varsity tight 5. To scrum like a prop, but play and support like a loose forward.
Fish quiet simply makes “The Best of the Millennium” Varsity front-row with his mate Snoop and with the likes of Door and Sven behind him it has an air of invincibility about it don’t you think?
To say I will miss you would be an understatement.
Barry O’Mahony 1st XV coach 2001 – 2003
Where do you start with Fish?
He was a huge character in the club back in the early 00’s. I had the terrible task of having him going head to head with fellow losehead prop Doug Bryant on a weekly basis. It was probably the greatest long term healthy rivalry I have seen at the club. What the players never realised at the time is that the rivalry pushed them both to become exceptional players.
I was absolutely convinced that he was going to go on to play for the Stormers and then go on further, I think that neck injury took that chance away. I have no doubt if the Varsity Cup existed back then he certainly would have got there.
He was a an “I” guy which was hard to deny him. He was moody and every now and then needed some extra attention, but it just was part of the package. A glorious showman who always showed up on the big day, a Royal athlete always in pristine condition, he carried himself with the confidence of a King.
It is an honour to have known him and I don’t think he ever fully realised how good we thought he was.
Brendan Fogarty current False Bay coach and Fish’s former U21 A1 coach:
I still remember Fish’s great chirp: “Fogs I know I will never be selected for the u21 A1 side as I do not have Bishops socks!!”
Bodo ‘The Door’ Sieber – Ikey Tigers Captain and Fish’s team mate at U21s, 1st XV, WP B and WP Vodacom
“Vakai you have been a legend on and off the field and generations of Ikeys will still hear about your Fiiiish Time escapades. One of my personal favourites is the famous UCT vs Collegians match on the Green Mile some years back, when we finally decided to stand up to the thuggery and intimidation of us “soft students” by the likes of the streetwise Collegians outfit and others. Fish leading the charge held one of their chief thugs by the collar in a monumental wild eyed shoving match that signalled a complete change in Ikeys attitude when it came to that kind of rough fixture from that moment forward and for years to come – yes then, all of a sudden there was respect.
Fish and punctuality just didn’t go together. He will be remembered as the only first team player in UCT history who would play many a ripper of a season being the stand-out player he is, but reliably managed to be an hour late when the end of year team photos were taken. Out of a possible eight of the coveted 1st XV pics he should have been in, he probably ended up gracing three, two of which he has been photoshopped in. You can’t teach that!
Then again, maybe it was because he hated the bench more than any other player ever to don the blue and white and may have been asked to sit on it – if only for a couple of minutes to take the photo.
Thanks for the thousands of hours we spent together training, playing and celebrating.
All the best my friend, may the Fish Time continue”
Click here for (Fish Time ends on the Green Mile Part II)
If you have a Fish story or photo, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org