The Bidvest Wits celebrate after they won their maiden Absa Premiership, 96 years after the team was established.
Nomvelo Chalumbira & Gypseenia Lion
AFTER almost a century since being formed in 1921, Bidvest Wits, the ‘Clever Boys’, finally broke the duck and won the 2016/17 Absa Premiership after beating Polokwane City 2-0 at the Bidvest Stadium, Braamfontein, on Wednesday, May 17.
The stakes were high. To win their maiden championship, Wits had to win, and Mamelodi Sundowns, the team that had been breathing down the neck of the students for weeks, had to draw or lose against Maritzburg United at home in Atteridgeville. In the event, Sundowns drew 2-2 against the KwaZulu-Natal side.
The Wits squad did not disappoint as it put on a stellar performance. The team played a very attacking game and was rewarded as midfielder, James Keene, scored within the first four minutes. Clever Boys coach Gavin Hunt’s men went in search of a second goal to kill the game off and Daine Klate stepped up to the plate, beating the Polokwane goalkeeper George Chigova and netting in a second goal just before the hour mark.
Polokwane City tried to salvage the game as coach Bernard Molekwa made all three substitutions, but Wits remained in control throughout the encounter. As the referee blew his whistle in the 94th minute, the supporters jolted to their feet in celebration, to the eclectic sounds of the Wits Brass Band and screams from the stands. Bidvest Wits player Reeve Frosler greeted fans off the field. Frosler shared his excitement with Wits Vuvuzela saying, “It is wonderful to win the league. Not many clubs can do that, so for us being a first timer is a big achievement for us as a club as well as a player, breaking into the first team in March, so three or four months later you are a champion.”
Overjoyed by the glorious victory, first year BA Law student Brian Mayabane said that it was a great feeling to witness history in his first year at Wits. “Now I can wear the [team’s] soccer jersey proudly,” he said. Hunt couldn’t hide his excitement saying, “It’s a very fantastic feeling and achievement. This is great for Wits and a club of this magnitude. To win is unbelievable. I am very proud of the team, the players, the staff and the owner”.
The historic win places the 52-year-old Hunt among the country’s elite coaches who have won four Professional Soccer League titles. He won the other three with Supersport United. The Bidvest team’s CEO Jose Ferreira said if players or other staff members wished to move on to other opportunities he would respect their decision. “If Gavin or others wanted to leave I would let them go. We [Bidvest Wits team] will always be here if they want to stay. We know what we’ve got. It was a unique opportunity to win it [the league] for the first time,” Ferreira said.
Ferreira continued, “You can’t just win with experience or just young players. Experience like this [the players] is needed to complement the youth… This is what makes the club so great. I am immensely
proud of them.”
With 29 games played, the Clever Boys have 60 points, the highest ever points tally the team has ever achieved in the PSL era. This gives them an unassailable four points more than the Brazilians in second place. The champions will play their last game of the season on Saturday May 27 at FNB Stadium against Kaizer Chiefs, where they will be officially crowned champions.
This article was originally published on Wits Vuvuzela May 19, 2017.