As the final whistle went, two goals and a clean sheet on the scoreboard, left dejected Polokwanian charges laying strewn across the field. News of the late equaliser in Atteridgeville befell the packed Braampark coliseum on a cold winter’s night. And so, by their thousands they waited. Eyes riddled with trepidation and hearts taunted by the probability of what is beyond their control, they waited. Minutes felt an eternity, as tension took a hold of their focus like static before a record begins. Then finally; news of the two all final score at the Lucas Moripe Stadium pierced through the wires confirming that BIDVEST WITS! BIDVEST WITS! BIDVEST WITS are the 2016/2017 Absa Premier Soccer League Champions.
The club’s roots at Wits University go back to 1921 when they were established by the Students Representatives Council, however they only gained promotion into the top domestic league of the day called National Football League in 1975. They won their first major trophy in the 1978 Mainstay Cup. Then six years later the 1984 BP Top 8, and there after 1985 JPS Knockout Cup. Their best year though remains 1995 under John Lathan when they won two trophies, the BP Top 8 and the Coca-Cola Cup. After that it took them 15 years to win a trophy with the 2009–10 Nedbank Cup Champions and then 2016 MTN 8.
The only time the Clever Boys have could ever claim a championship tittle would be their gallant fight back from relegation via the Mvela Golden League Champions 2005–06. But on Wednesday night after 96 years of existence the old lady has finally been crowned Champions of the Absa Premier Soccer League.
The events on Wednesday were not only epoch making for the club, but it marked a few career records in the team as well. Gavin Hunt secured his fourth PSL championship medal, having won three in a row with “Matsatsantsa a Pitori”. One could argue that Hunt was poised to win it this year having led the club to a 2nd place finish in 2015/2016, 3rd in 2014/2015 and 2013/2014 and 4th in 2012/2013 when he first joined the club.
Daine Klate proved he still has what it takes at the ripe age of 32 as he secured the sixth Absa Premiership medal. The most ever won by a single player. This adds to a career telly of twelve medals, easily making him the most decorated player in PSL history. In fact it is a lessor mentioned point that between 2007 and 2012 Klaite won a PSL championship medal five times in a row while plying his trade at SuperSport United and Orlando Pirates.
Elias Domingo Pelembe won his fourth league medal after getting three medals in Pretoria via Supersport United and their cross town cousins Mamelodi Sundowns. Moenib Josephs and Sifiso Myeni received their third medal after buccaneering for their first two medals with the Ghost of Orlando. And if you think that this was special, spare a thought for the peaceable duo of Nazir Allie and Thulani Hlatswayo who basically grew up together at Ajax Cape Town, and got reunited to win their first PSL medal with +/- 253 top flight games in the league between them.
Add to that list names like Siboniso Gaxa, Cuthbert Malajila, Bongani Khumalo, Dillon Shepard, Jabulani Shongwe and CEO Jose Ferreira there is no wonder the Jo’burg based club managed to become only the seventh club to win the PSL championship in the league’s 21 year history.
Well done Clever Boys. What a time to be alive! I am really glad to always be able to say – “I was there”.