TSHEPISO MABULA NDONGENI
Kasi flavor is back! Soweto derby is back! An excited fan sang on the popular Robert Marawa Sports Worldwide show on Monday night as football lovers celebrated the return of the historic club Swallows FC back to top-flight football.
The significance of the occasion was highlighted by the club’s two former captains, Calvin Petersen and Goodman Mazibuko calling in to express their good wishes.
The club’s return sparked memories of days gone by when an old malume, after a few soothing sips of brandy slurped from the opening of an almost empty, half jack bottle placed in his blazer pocket, would exclaim joyously – Don’t follow me, follow the birds!
This, while his maroon and white Moroka Swallows football shirt would glisten in the bright Soweto sun during yet another soccer filled weekend.
Such moments seem like a distant memory from many lifetimes ago, back when the Dube Birds, who went by the name Moroka Swallows FC then, stunned Absa premiership rivals with their quick dribbles and meticulous passes.
The Dube birds are an age-old phenomenon in South African football and this is why the day they were relegated in May 2015 was a tragic and mournful event for many fans.
It was an even of monumental proportions that sent shockwaves from Meadowlands to Mapetla and it took a number of years and some drastic changes to the team to get it back to top flight football.
After a noticeable name change and a long and tedious six year battle the legendary Soweto club aptly known as the Dube birds will once again join their Soweto neighbours Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates in the Premier league next season starting this month.
The Dube birds, now Swallows Football Club, flew back into the big league with a 3-0 win over Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila at the Dobsonville Stadium over the weekend.
Swallows made their triumphant return to the Absa Premiership after beating Ajax Cape Town to automatic promotion via a superior goal difference.
Diehard Moroka Swallows fans took to social media to express their immense joy and elation at the club’s return to the big league.
One such supporter is Luyanda Bakadelana, who posted an image of Swallows players Vuyo Mere and Lebogang Mokoena’s emotional reactions after Sunday’s victory on Facebook with the caption: “This picture is touching my soul because I put myself in their shoes and take that feeling, never give up while you still can…don’t follow me follow the Birds.”
The image was flooded with comments from fans of the Dube birds expressing how the team’s return to the premiers league took them back to its glory days, when legends like Joseph Makhanya and Siyabonga Nomvete wore the maroon and white with pride and glory.
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, who is a known diehard Swallows fan took to twitter to express his elation. Lesufi, who took an active role in the rebranding and repositioning of the team, reflected on the journey that the team and its fans took to revive the image of the mighty Dube Birds.
In the tweet Lesufi said: “Here’s the story behind the Revival of the Beautiful Birds. So unbelievable that the plan came out to fruition yesterday.”
The tweet included a 2017 televised interview where Lesufi laid out a plan to help rebrand Swallows and give ownership to its loyal fans who joined the online celebrations across social media platforms.
On Marawa’s show last night Lesufi paid homage to the club’s former stars Joel Ace Mnini and Steve Jomo Sekano for “always being present” during the march back to the PSL.
Strangely, he also paid tribute to chairman Leon Prins under whose guard the club sank into relegation five years ago.
Fans have also encouraged Swallows, who are also the Glad Africa champions this season, to now look ahead and maintain their presence in the Absa premiership by winning more silverware.
With the return of the Dube Birds, the club’s die-hard fans are now preparing to go through the turnstiles at their home ground of Dobsonville stadium to cheer on their heroes into a new, hopefully successful era.
(COMPILED BY INSIDE POLITICS STAFF)