The False Bay RFC community was shocked by the sudden passing of committee member and club manager Mike Chowles, last Thursday. He was 61.
An enormously popular figure, built on a strong foundation of warmth, kindness and care for others, Chowles touched all those he knew, leaving an indelible imprint on whomever crossed his path from all walks of life.
Educated mostly in Cape Town, this former Claremont Primary School and Norman Henshilwood High School pupil, completing his national service in 1979. It was while in the SADF that Chowles developed a love for rugby, both as a player and later an administrator.
The game remained his passion until his passing, highlighted by an ongoing and close involvement at False Bay Rugby Club, where he conducted his duties as club manager with a thorough aplomb and a friendly style. Few would deny his commitment to the Constantia club, his blood truly running green as it is said of their legion of dedicated family of rugby-loving supporters and members.
Friends would say that his love of music easily exceeded his passion for the game and his club and as a former DJ at popular nightclubs of the 80s, such as Bliss, Club 604 and Phaze One, he certainly demonstrated this through his knowledge of music and his library of music. He joined MfP Music (Music for Pleasure) as a sales representative in the days when vinyls were a staple diet of every music lover and was the epitome of someone whose passion was his job.
Chowles’ passing has stunned the Bay community and his loss will be felt for a while to come. Joining the club when son Ryan played in the False Bay under-21s in 2008, Chowles rolled up his sleeves, becoming manager of various teams before progressing to his final role as club manager.
“Mike’s ’can do’ attitude shone through from the outset,” said club president Dr Gareth Jones.
“He loved being the club DJ and in particular leading the club’s anthem of Sweet Caroline.
“It was fitting therefore that Sweet Caroline rang out and was sung, albeit in muted tones, at the Covid-responsible flag-lowering ceremony at False Bay RFC on Friday afternoon”, continued Jones.
“Mike was proud to present a smart facility and well-kempt fields for the matches on any given Saturday. Once the hard work was done he could be found at his post at the clubhouse door, managing activities, controlling the scoreboard and answering everyone’s queries.
“He was a gracious host to visiting teams and convivial company in the clubhouse. He had such a wide circle of friends who have loved and respected him and was so connected on a human level, by so many, giving freely of his time. He represented the club in City and Inter-Club affairs but it was mostly the people and the rugby he loved. He was an avid WP and Stormers supporter, whilst his son, Ryan, hung his colours to The Sharks mast, leading to many a friendly altercation on the relative merits of either. He made the role of club manager his own, endeared himself to all, represented what was best of The Bay and will be so badly missed”.
This tribute by the club present not only encapsulates Chowles’s impact at False Bay but accurately demonstrates his core attributes as a human being.
In our Covid-devastated era, some losses are harder to bear. Rest in peace Mike.
Jon Harris is a member of False Bay RFC