The soccer star, 1976 – 1991

When Leonard Gregory was 15 years old he was a soccer star. He played professional soccer for Zulu Royals. This was the most famous club in KwaZulu- Natal, which later changed its name to AmaZulu.

Many goals started at Leonard’s feet. He played central midfielder. He was the one who “pulled the strings” in the match. He collected the ball in midfield and, using his wonderful ball skills, made great passes to his team mates.

“Shoooooes!” the crowd would roar when Leonard gathered the ball.

Leonard played for many teams in KwaZulu-Natal and the Transkei. From Zulu Royals he moved to Durban Bush Bucks where he played for four years in the National Professional Soccer League. His next club was Aces United in the Federation Professional League.

In those days of apartheid, soccer was divided along racial lines. There were separate leagues for different race groups. Who knows how far Leonard would have gone if there had been one non-racial Premier Soccer League at the time?

Leonard moved to Mthatha and played for Liverpool United in the Transkei Professional League. He was one of the best players in the league and played for the Transkei team against Bophuthatswana. Then he moved on to Thembu Royals where Bantu Holomisa, now a member of Parliament, was the manager. Leonard still remembers that Bantu Holomisa used to say, “Gentlemen, the final hour has broken!” to his team before each match.

Leonard “Shoes” Gregory

Leonard “Shoes” Gregory, Dorrington Webster and Real Taj fans at Northdale Stadium (1986)

Next Leonard moved to Kokstad. There he joined Kokstad Swallows who found him a job in a motor spares shop.

He married the beautiful Sylvia Kroutz, settled down and had two children, Lee and Leandra. He continued to play soccer in Pietermaritzburg as a guest player for Real Taj in the Federation Professional League. He travelled all the way from Kokstad to Pietermaritzburg on the weekends for matches. Things were going well for Leonard in Kokstad.

Then the accident happened and everything changed.

Leonard and his family

Leonard and Sylvia with children, Lee and Leandra, on Leandra’s first birthday (13th November, 1990)