Soweto derby is a true SA carnival

2013-03-10 10:00

The fun began long before the ball was kicked in South Africa’s biggest football derby yesterday afternoon.

The mood outside the imposing calabash-styled venue was as sweet as a lollipop and as jovial as a carnival.

Multitudes of fans began arriving hours before the 3.30pm kickoff, their car registration plates and flags bearing the names of places far and wide, and even from across the country’s border.

Even the late “strugglers”, who had not bought their tickets on time, had some luck, but were forced to cough up as much as R150 for ordinary R40 grandstand tickets, which were sold out early in the week.

While the sale of tickets on the black market is a long-standing tradition, another trend around the derby that hasn’t died is that of the young boys, mostly from nearby Diepkloof, who walk the less than 5km to beg for complimentary tickets from motorists, taking advantage of the slow-moving traffic heading into the venue.

The same convoy had, among others, prominent faces such as Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund, who drove in with his son Grant, and national goalkeeper-trainer Alex Heredia.

In another sideshow, some youngsters descend on entertainment marquees such as the giant Vodacom promotional and games kiosk on the western side of the venue.

Buddies Tyros Sebela (14) and Lungile Kgoete (12) said they trekked from Diepkloof on foot and, despite having no tickets, they were certain that if they ended up not getting their hands on the valuable pieces of paper, there would be some form of entertainment outside.

They found solace sizing one another up in a Fifa 13 Playstation game featuring the Soweto derby.

On the other side of the open space, grown-up men and women queued, waiting to take turns in a game of target shooting offering spot prizes such as T-shirts and caps.

Yesterday’s fixture was a battle of huge proportions, given the positions of the sides on the Absa Premiership log.

And some fans, like the Kaizer Chiefs supporter with “Mokhosi” on the back of his Amakhosi replica, took “going to the battle” too literally as he was fully kitted in the club’s uniform, complete with shin guards.

The Soweto derby holds its place as the must-attend show on the local football calendar.

This is backed up by statistics that show the broadcast of the game has reached a massive global audience.

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