Swallows FC head coach Brandon Truter’s grey sweatshirt is always hanging around his shoulders, a look he adopted by default, rather than by design. It became a common feature during his team’s match days and is still evident.
This fashion trend from the 1980s, which was mostly associated with wealth, is something Truter’s technical staff and players believe worked like a lucky charm during the Soweto club’s return to the top ranks of domestic club football.
“The club wanted me in formal wear, but I soon ditched that for a casual look because I felt more comfortable on the bench in a simple top, jeans and sneakers,” chuckled the 43-year-old from Mitchells Plain in Cape Town.
Nicknamed “Brakkies” (“small dog” in Afrikaans) during his high school days, Truter was elated about joining the top dogs of coaching in the elite ranks.
“I’ve coached at all the levels – from amateur to semi-professional, and now in the PSL. It’s a dream come true to have climbed the ladder to the top,” he told City Press a few days after guiding Swallows to automatic promotion to the premier division, having dethroned his hometown club, Ajax Cape Town, from their position at the top of the GladAfrica Championship, which they had held for 14 weeks.
Truter was hired in October as a replacement for Zeca Marques, who was sacked just five games into the campaign (see graphic).
His former club, Richards Bay, was unbeaten and sitting second on the log at the time of his departure. Despite enjoying a fair share of positive results in the lower division, not much is known about Truter, who was at one point an aspiring defender for Santos FC.
A bad knee injury meant he couldn’t fulfil his dream of playing professionally, but could only watch as peers such as former SuperSport United and Bafana Bafana defender Ricardo Katza went on to achieve big things in the PSL.
“I was Ricardo’s captain at high school,” reminisced Truter. Having spent 10 years at Santos, the budding coach also had stints with Mother City sides Milano United and Cape Town All Stars.
“I started coaching at a fairly young age, when I was about 20. I have almost all the coaching badges now,” said Truter, whose highest qualification is the Pro-Licence. He credited the likes of coaches Allan Freese, Roger De Sá and Mlungisi “Professor” Ngubane for having helped advance him as a tactician.
But life wasn’t always a bed of roses for Truter. “It was tough to get where I am today. I never had money and I depended on Good Samaritans to pay for my coaching courses. I was raised by a middle-class family,” said the married father of two.
He said he is especially indebted to former Cape Town All Stars owner Lunga Ncwana, who paid R100 000 for him to acquire his Pro-Licence. It is interesting that Swallows were top of the log for three days prior to their coronation as GladAfrica Championship winners.
In their last 16 matches, the Birds won 12, drew three and suffered just one defeat. For Truter, the feat was more than just the mandate to make top eight – it was a “build-up for next season”.
As fate would have it, Swallows will be flying in the premier division next season, with Truter expected to reap the fruits of his labour. And his image in the dugout, with his grey top dangling around his broad shoulders, will always accompany the success story of Swallows’ resurrection.