A kiss from a princess turns a frog into a prince. That is how the fairytale goes.
Along with it comes the promise of everlasting joy, the triumph of good over evil, and sealing the deal is a seemingly endless supply of gold and coin. A stream of dreams and adventures so lucid they feel real. The grand promise of a beautifully wrapped “happily ever after”.
But what if this kiss was never meant to transform the frog into a prince? What if instead, the perfect mosaic would see the princess’ own transmutation into a beautiful and round green toad. A toad that would lay thousands and thousands of tadpoles, who would undergo their own metamorphosis and turn into a captivating song inside Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium. “Siwelele” would be the soundtrack these maselesele [frogs] from Bloemfontein would intone. Reverberating their melody throughout the whole country.
Befitting the location of their homeground, Maselesele would be the heart of football fandom in the league.
With their passion and love for their club culture being second to none through an expression of affection that is bewilderingly deep and compelling. To them, support for the team was never dictated by the scoreboard. It
was never about the newspaper headlines. It was far greater than what was happening on the field of play.
Their proclivity for the club in its 51 years of existence would be tested the most in 2001. Not only did the team get relegated, but the founder and majority shareholder, Ntate Petrus Molemela, opted to sell the club. With a cloud of uncertainty looming, the only comfort these supporters would have was the fact that the new owner, Jimmy Augousti, was a club legend.
Their general assumption was that he would embrace the culture of the team and bring its collective vision to fruition.
Living up to expectations, Augousti did in fact have a vision. One that encompassed the desires of supporters and made it easy for them to rally behind the team even more than before and galvanise the players back into the top league.
Their vindication came in the 2002/2003 season when Siwelele won its promotion back to the Premier Soccer League. The green and white brigade was back – bigger and louder than before. As the league’s average attendance dwindled, stadia in the city of roses remained packed; with decibel units reaching above 110.
“Ke tla ijarela Siwelele saka, ka mahetla aka [I’ll carry my Bloemfontein Celtic on my shoulders]”
being the constant chant. The noise would one Saturday afternoon in 2005 transcend
the Free State and find its way to the North West Province – Potchefstroom to be
Olen Park saw a capacity crowd, dominated by green and white. The stadium would experience a vibe like no other when Paul Dolezar’s Celtic beat SuperSport United through a solitary goal scored by Rotson Kilambe which sealed the deal for the team to lift the SAA Supa8 trophy [Now MTN 8].
Maselesele’s song and dance had successfully carried their team over another hurdle. Their voices would propel the team to victory again on the 3rd of December 2012 at Moses Mabhida Stadium when they played against Mamelodi Sundowns in the Telkom Cup Final.
Fast forward to 2014 and the team would find itself in the hands of new owner Max Tshabalala. A period that would result in hardship for all and sundry. Rumours of players and the technical team not being paid their salaries would constantly mushroom, until an open letter to the management of the club from a former coach provided confirmation.
You would think this was an opportune moment for fans to turn their back on the team, but against all reason, that’s when their love for the
team grew even stronger; going so far as to endure rubber bullets and teargas in an effort to fight for the players’ livelihood.
Botha Msila and his fellow supporters have braced the team through some highs and lows; all the while doing so from the “Bishop’s Corner”. Their biggest sin would be the love they have for Masokolara. Side-by-side, singing their lungs out. When the need arose, they would follow their beloved “Phunya Selele Bana ba ho Shebile” to all the pockets of the country.
Not once would you hear them complain about the weather, their financial wellbeing or how they have sacrificed time that could be spent with their loved ones. They gave everything they have to the team, only to find themselves facing a huge and very real possibility of losing the chosen love of their lives.
The one that captured their hearts now has a potential suitor promising heaven and earth. The green and white band could be lured to the place of the rising sun (Mpumalanga). Talk about a spit in the face.
Loving the wrong team does not make you any less of a supporter. However, not treasuring that love is a strong sign of a lesser of a team.
Undeserving of the unwavering adoration and adulation given unto it so freely.
RELATED STORY: Celtic moving from Bloemfontein to Mpumalanga
By Koketso Moutlane (Mamelodi Sundowns supporter)
Twitter handle: @UncappedGuluva