Moroka Swallows put up for sale

2010-03-24 11:16

The marriage of opposites between majority shareholder Dieter Bock

and Moroka Swallows, the one-time giants of South African soccer, is poised for

the divorce courts following the shock announcement by the German business

entrepreneur yesterday that the “Beautiful Birds” were up for sale.

Although Swallows received something of a lifesaver and achieved

moderate success after Bock bought 90% of the Swallows’ shares from the late

David Chabeli some six years ago and injected much-needed finance into the club,

the old dynamism and charisma of the Soweto glamour side, which came into

existence in 1947, was never fully recreated.

In a statement released by Bock he says that with the many

opportunities existing in the growing African soccer market, Swallows’

development would be enhanced by fresh co-owners buying into the club – or

taking it over completely.

And few would quibble with this assessment, with the German owner

and the Birds forming something akin to an odd couple who at best enjoyed a cool

and distant relationship under management who were well-intentioned but never

fully understood the Swallows credo or what the club stood for among its

one-time massive support base.

The big problem now for The Birds, who were often likened to the

mythical phoenix for their ability to return to full flight after seemingly

being reduced to ashes on a funeral pyre, will be to find the right new owner –

with Bock unlikely to let go of his potentially valuable asset cheaply.

In the 1980s under Chilean-born coach Mario “The Godfather” Tuani,

Swallows boasted one of the most skilful and exciting club combinations yet seen

in the South African soccer spectrum, with players of the calibre of Thomas

“Who’s Fooling Who?”

Hlongwane, Aubrey “The Great” Makgopela, Ace Mnini, Sam

“Happy Cow” Mnkomo, Aaron “Roadblock” Makhathini, Sulie Bhamjee and South

American international defenders Mario Varas and Raul Gonzalez.

And while The Birds showed glimmerings of their former glory after

Bock took over and annexed the Mainstay Cup and the Absa Cup only last season,

the Cape Town-based management never fully came to terms with the club’s Soweto


And now, it would seem, The Birds are truly at the crossroads –

with the search for new viable ownership the key to this legendary soccer

phoenix rising again.


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