Ricky Van Wyk comes from a diverse family of football fanatics. His Dad supports Arsenal. His brother Tottenham. But it’s United that stole the heart of this charismatic Capetonian back in the early 80’s.
Ricky comes from an infamous area of Cape Town known as the Cape Flats, a low-lying, flat area situated to the southeast of the city’s central business district.
The Cape Flats is an area steeped in history, much of it unwanted. During the apartheid era in South Africa, race-based legislation forced non-white people out of the more central urban areas of Cape Town (which were designated for white people) and moved them into the government-built townships of the Cape Flats.
But it’s also an area steeped in culture, much of it routed to strong family values – as we experienced first hand when we visited Ricky to hear about his United story and take a tour of the man-cave he’s built inside his garage. Welcomed like family would be an understatement as we watched United beat Brighton last season with some of the most passionate Reds you will come across.
The first part of the day was spent with Ricky at his home. From Ricky’s, we went to a friends around the corner to meet the rest of the local “Stretford Enders” for a proper match-day party on the estate.
You can read our interview with Ricky below the video we shot. Please let us know your thoughts and don’t forget to give this a share to spread the love!
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Ricky’s United story
“I started off as a football lover,” Ricky tells us. “I remember being 10 years old (in 1981) and asking my father if there were any South African’s playing in the English First Division, as that’s all we used to watch. As soon as I discovered Gary Bailey played for United, that was the start of my journey.”
Ricky began to fall in love in ’83 when United faced Brighton in the FA Cup Final Replay at Wembley. “Just watching the mood of our supporters in the stadium was awesome,” he recalls. “It was something I understood straight away.”
Next, the ’85 FA Cup final against Everton hooked Ricky in even further. “The way Whiteside curled that shot inside the post still gives me goosebumps to this day,” he says.
But it was United legend Bryan Robson who really cemented the love affair for Mr. Van Wyk. “I was obsessed with Robbo. Everything about him. I’ve met him twice in person too which was something else.”
In total, Ricky has been to Old Trafford four times and once played on the pitch as part of a DHL competition that he and a group of friends won in 2018. Of course, every time United have visited South Africa for a pre-season tour Ricky has been in attendance, and he distinctly remembers Bryan Robson getting sent off during a game in Johannesburg. “I’ve got that ref on Facebook. Errol Sweeney is his name,” he says. “I’ve got into some pretty heated debates with him over the years about that red card. I want him to tell me why he sent Robbo off that day. All he can say is that it was something he said. F*** him. I just want an answer!”
Ricky’s Man Cave (photos below)
“I’ve been collecting United memorabilia since the early ‘80s,” Ricky says. “There was nothing that could stop me once I fell in love with United. I just wanted to know more and learn more. It started with the Shoot magazines, clipping out the players and stories. I’ve got a whole library of books and merchandise signed by former players. I keep adding stuff all the time. The big light you can see was installed by a Liverpool fan as well, which is a nice touch.
Ricky’s man cave is the scene of many memories from down the years, and when asked about his favourite moment watching United in Cape Town, we were surprised to hear it didn’t come from inside his garage.
“My favourite moment has to be winning the treble in ’99,” he says. We celebrated by closing down a strip club in Cape Town (to Ricky’s wife, if you are hearing about this for the first time, he says sorry!) We left at about five in the morning and ended up taking a took a couple of strippers home with us… but only because they lived in the same area and needed a lift. And that’s how we role in the Cape Flats!”
Ricky Van Wyk = a Proper United Legend