Bartman was a man of his word

Former Amakhosi goalkeeper Arthur Bartman passed away on 19 March 2019. His funeral was held in East London on Saturday, 30 March 2019.

Joseph Molangoane and Virgil Vries formed part of a Kaizer Chiefs delegation to attend the requiem mass. Former Glamour Boy, Dennis Vukubi, who became close with Bartman over the years, was also at the service. The former attacker lives in East London.

“Arthur was a man of principle,” highlighted a speaker at the funeral service held at the Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Nahoon. “And if he felt that the attitude of one of the players was not right, he would immediately say so. Arthur was not only a top goalkeeper coach, he also moulded the players into men of principles. He was a champion for life.”

Another speaker highlighted that Bartman was “a gentle giant and a man of his word”.

Bartman was often called ‘Batman’ or ‘Grootman’. He originally joined Chiefs in 1999 as goalkeeper and stayed for one season. The goalkeeper re-joined Amakhosi from Bay United in August 2009 and remained at the club until the end of the 2012/2013 season.

The Pietermaritzburg-born goalkeeper was at his best helping Amakhosi to beat Ajax Cape Town 2-1 to win the 2009/2010 Telkom Knockout. He was rightly voted as the Player of the Tournament after some outstanding goalkeeping performances during the tournament.

Besides Chiefs, Bartman played for a range of clubs in his long career, including for Bay United, SuperSport United, Free State Stars, Dynamos, Moroka Swallows, Bush Bucks and African Wanderers.

After his goalkeeper days were over, he became the goalkeeper coach at Golden Arrows and, later, Maritzburg United.

Chiefs Chairman, Kaizer Motaung sent a message to the widow, the children and the family at large on behalf of the club in which he noted that, “Arthur is gone too soon, but let us be consoled that he ran a good race and earned stripes for the family and all to hold on to.

“He was a fine gentleman holistically, and at Kaizer Chiefs we have his memories in pictures and trophies, showcasing the contribution Arthur made in the history of the club. We will hold on to all these memories and ensure they remain cast in stone in the history of Kaizer Chiefs. Farewell Champion!”

Chiefs’ assistant-coach Shaun Bartlett worked with ‘Grootman’ at Arrows. The former striker couldn’t attend the funeral, as he was with Amakhosi in Mbombela to prepare for Sunday’s Nedbank Cup quarterfinal, but he did forward a few words that were read out at the funeral service.

“You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. And, oh boy, friends can become family. You made a difference in my life.”

Chiefs goalkeeper Vries, who is presently out due to a hamstring injury sustained during his trip with the Namibian national team squad, worked with Bartman at Maritzburg United.

Vries has a high regard for ‘Grootman’, who was 46 years old at the time of his passing. “He was a great goalkeeper coach – very professional and he would always push us to work very hard.

“And he was not only great on the field, but also off the field. I would regularly join Arthur after training to have a coffee or even lunch, because he wanted to know what was on my mind on and off the pitch. I learnt so much from Arthur and I became a better human being just by working with him.”

When Vries became an Amakhosi at the beginning of the 2018/2019 season, Bartman was one of the first to call. “He was so excited. He told me how the club and its structures work, while also making me alert about the challenges that I may face. That’s typical of who he was. 

“I heard about Arthur’s passing when I was in camp with the Namibian national team. I was so shocked. I am happy to have been at his funeral and to show my last respect to a truly great person. I will miss him.”