Swallows-Pirates final to revive the magic of old

2010-09-30 15:31

Thirty years is a long time to wait.

But Moroka Swallows and Orlando Pirates fans who are old enough to remember the epic Mainstay Cup final of 1980 will be pleased that the long wait is over.

If they live long enough to watch the MTN8 final between the two teams at Moses Mabhida stadium on Saturday, they can at least boast to have waited three decades for a cup final featuring Swallows and Pirates.

The last time the two locked horns in a cup final, Jomo Sono was a marauding attacking midfielder whose wizardry and skill on the ball terrorised the Swallows defence.

Today Sono is in his 50s, long retired from the game and now coaching his team, Jomo Cosmos.

That memorable day

On that memorable day in November 1980, he scored a brace and set up Johannes “Bigboy” Kholoane to score another – as Pirates triumphed over Swallows whose two goals came from dynamic midfielder Andries “Six Mabone” Maseko.

Swallows were captained and coached at the time by Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba, who is now national under-23 coach.

But time and circumstances have not left the beautiful game untouched.

Then, it was the wizardry of skilful players such as Joel “Ace” Mnini, Daniel “Vader” Mophosho and Sono that helped teams outwit the opposition. Back then, the game was more of an art and a bit slower.

Even the vuvuzela wasn’t even part of the football family, though a slightly bigger version of the instrument was already used by members of the Nazareth Baptist Church to communicate with God.

Then fans whistled and blew on shiny aluminium bells to cheer on their stars.

At the time, no one probably thought a stadium as stylish and big as Moses Mabhida could ever be built. In fact, having a stadium named after a communist (Moses Mabhida was then an exiled member of the SACP) was unthinkable.

The wizards of the game
Orlando Stadium, a ramshackle, basic stadium with wooden railway sleepers, cement and steel blocks for seats, was the great arena of the stars, the wizards of the game.

Today, things have become so formal even the fans no longer seem to bestow fancy nicknames on players. The game has become a science – coaches rely more on tactics to get their hands on the trophy and the big money that comes with being crowned champions.

Even the players are much quicker and fitter, but they come nowhere near their predecessors in terms of skill and flair, and for lack of a better word, magic.

Yes, magic.

The players back then seemed to have something special, a supernatural power with which they blew the crowds into a frenzy and kept them glued to the game throughout.

Nowadays, fans run around the pitch singing while teams are locked in a battle on the field. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Hopefully, the gods of SA football will come alive to inspire both teams on Saturday night, and perhaps this match that the country has waited for 30 years will revive the magic in our football.

May the best team win (did I say may the birds fly?)

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