Not many people know this, and many of you may not believe it, but I am a die-hard Buccaneer.

There were times, back in the day, when there would be only four mlungus in the stadium – the ref, a coach, a big centre-half … and yours truly.

I could be found watching Orlando Pirates during some of their grimmest times in the late 80s, and during the days of fresh hope stalled in the early 90s.

When I began working on freelance football stories around 1991-92, they were often about Pirates and their players – that was where my passion lay, after all. But it meant I was never very critical of Pirates.

That changed in 1994 when I began working for The Star newspaper, and then for Soccer News the following year. I now had to be neutral and critical. My relationship with the mighty Iron Duke, Irvin Khoza, was soon in tatters!

We ceased hostilities during Pirates’ conquest of Africa in 1995, when the chairman did as much as any club boss has ever done to help his team achieve their triumph. But when I took over as KICK OFF editor in March 1996, I was soon in hot water again.

Happily, we smoked the peace pipe and have maintained a mutually-respectful relationship ever since – but my support for Pirates was on hold as long as I was KICK OFF editor. I could never disrespect the achievements of Kaizer Motaung and his great club, nor Mamelodi Sundowns, a club that has dominated the Premiership more than any other.

So why do I feel free to reveal my allegiances now? Well, this is my final Editor’s Letter. After 20 years and two months, I am leaving KICK OFF.

And I know I leave KICK OFF in capable hands. If you love KickOff.com, if you enjoy the magazine, then know that this is media that has as much to do with the talents of Zola Doda, Ryan Cooper and co. as it has me.

I now join kwesesports.com – an operation that is focused on the broader African market, so not a direct competitor of KICK OFF. So I am able to say Once KICK OFF, always KICK OFF.

Thank you to everyone who has ever been involved with the magazine; thanks to every footballer, coach and manager we have interviewed; and thanks in particular to every single reader.

I carry a part of each of you in me, now and always.