More cup success…
After clinching the Transvaal Challenge in 1956, the club went on to win the Wemmer Cup in 1957, and with the support that was now following the team, Moroka Swallows became the first club to have an official Supporters Club established by Mr Maswidi Gumede. Things were going well for Moroka Swallows and their good run of form continued when they won the Robinson cup in 1958 and 1959!
A final to remember!
In the 1959 Robinson cup final, Moroka Swallows had a tremendous 7-4 victory against Moroka Terrors at the Bantu Sports Grounds to win the Robinson Cup. Joseph ‘Carlton’ Moloi, playing at centre forward spearheaded the Swallows attack. Many of the spectators who watched the game were intent on observing Moloi for he had plans to play overseas. He did not disappoint and in this match scored four goals and created the other three!
Moloi heads to England
Carlton Moloi scored 52 goals in 24 matches in South Africa. His scoring touch made him a household name in non white soccer, and not long after that game, England’s, Cardiff City knocked at Moroka Swallows’ door looking for Carlton. In 1959 Carlton joined Cardiff City and paired with another South African player Steve ‘Kalamazoo’ Mokone who was also with the European club. “I was only 22, and having played for Cardiff City in England will always be one of my proudest moments.” says Moloi who takes out a clipping that appeared in the English Daily Mail newspaper, the headline reads, “Coming in with his blanket” , and there is a photograph of himself with a write up saying that he brought with him his own coloured blanket thrown over his shoulder and 100 pounds pocket money provided by his club.
Moroka Swallows turns pro
In 1961, Moroka Swallows became a professional football club. Perhaps turning professional was a logical extension of what was already happening in soccer but in a less formalized structure. In the past teams used to play for stakes, meaning a certain amount of money was put on stake or the prize was an amount of cattle to be shared by the winning team. Professional gamblers would also lay big sums of money on their clubs. It was from such humble beginnings that the idea to organize soccer more professionally and pay the players for their efforts first took seed and Swallows led the way. They joined the South African Soccer League (SASL), an organization that was predominantly Indian controlled and played at the Bantu Sports ground. The side was a marvel to behold in the SASL and they played in a number of tournaments and knockout competitions. The SASL was born as a result of a merger between the South African African Football Association, The South African Indian Football Association, and the South African Coloured Football Association. Although with the benefit of hindsight, some people found faults with it, the truth of the matter was that this league could rightly claim to have been the father of the much sought after true non racial soccer in the country.
Birth of the National Professional Soccer League
In 1963 a decision to launch a professional league was taken and this league was initially made up of Transvaal teams and was rightly referred to as the Transvaal Professional Soccer League, though its founders saw it as a national league. It was only in 1964 that a more nationwide league with clubs from all four provinces was launched, and this was the birth of the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL). Its first President was Bethuel Morolo who followed the National government by ordering that all different races must play separately at grounds allocated to them. The NPSL and the SASL were on a collision course and Swallows were almost to die in the crossfire.
A rift in the team…
With so much politics in South African soccer in the early 60s, it was even more heartbreaking for Swallows that by 1964 there was a definite rift in the team. The whole thing centred on personal differences and hinged around which league Moroka Swallows should play in. The players had their own factions. There was the Difference Mbanya faction, who wanted to play in the NPSL, and then there were fourteen players who were behind Carlton Moloi who had returned to Swallows from Europe in 1963, and who wanted to campaign in the SASL.
Where the trouble started
Chris ‘Speak It’ Ngobo, a former Swallows great remembers where the trouble started…“The split came after a South African Soccer League game against arch rivals, Orlando Pirates. During the game, Orlando Pirates former midfielder, Abrahm ‘Mainline’ Khoza, kicked the hell out of the late Moroka Swallows stalwart, Difference ‘City Council’ Ndlovu, and blows were exchanged. I can’t remember who drew first blood, but ‘Mainline’s’ twin brother, ‘Tikkie’ Khoza also attacked ‘Difference’ Mbanya who was getting hit until the referee intervened and managed to bring the situation under control. If my memory serves me well, the game was played up to the end and we ended up losing to Pirates. After the game, Difference Mbanya, who had been on the receiving end against Pirates, and who was arguably the best known player at Swallows, felt that we should no longer play against Orlando Pirates. But a large group of the other players led by Carlton Moloi felt that it would be suicidal not to play Orlando Pirates as we would then not be allowed to play in the SASL league where Pirates were also affiliates. It was during this internal feuding that Moroka Swallows almost collapsed!”
A frightening day for Swallows
It was a frightening day for the club. One day heroes and team mates were now villains and enemies. Those who opposed Difference Mbanya were a powerful, solid and determined clique, they were determined to have their way and stay in the SASL, and Mbanya was also not going to budge. It would be wrong to create the impression that the Mbanya group did not have a good following among the supporters or that the decision to disagree with him was endorsed by the entire membership of the Moroka Swallows club. The truth is that ‘Differ’ also had a substantial following as events were to prove later.
Divisions ran deep
However, the divisions in the Moroka Swallows camp ran deep. The Swallows office bearers were also divided. Founder members, Strike Makgatho left, and later joined forces with the Kaizer XI which would later become Kaizer Chiefs as we know it today. Ishmael Lesolang however remained and took the side of the Carlton Moloi team which became known as the Swallows Big XV group. While Mbanya’s group became known as Moroka Swallows the Babes. Where to now? This was the question which confronted the two factions…
In the next instalment of ‘The History of Moroka Swallows Football Club’, find out which of the two Moroka Swallows factions went on to become the proud Moroka Swallows team that you support today. Remember that if you have some Moroka Swallows history carefully stored away in your hearts and minds, please share it with us at