Moroka Swallows’ ever present record at the top level of the South African game is now under serious threat as the once mighty Birds plunge into relegation danger.
Of the 13 founder members of the National Professional Soccer League in 1971, only six remain in the top flight. But while Black Aces, AmaZulu and Bloemfontein Celtic have all previously suffered relegation, only Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Swallows have been a continuous presence in the league.
But after more than 1200 games since 1971, first in the NPSL, then the National Soccer League and Premier Soccer League, Swallows now face a predicament they have rarely been in before.
It was 14 years ago that Swallows narrowly avoided relegation at the end of the 2000-01 season, staying up on goal difference only as Celtic went down.
That was Swallows’ worst as they finished 15th at a time when there were 18 teams in the top flight.
In the 2010-11 campaign they matched the record for the poorest start to a season and had to scramble to recover in the second half of the season.
They finished 13th that year, the same as last season.
At the other end of the table, Swallows have never won a championship but finished second five times, the last just three years ago under Gordon Igesund.
They were also runners-up in 1972, 1974, 1984 and 1993. In 1984 they came closest, beaten to the title on goal difference only by Chiefs.
But that once proud tradition is under severe threat now after Swallows dropped to second last following defeat at Pirates last weekend. The Birds have one win from their last nine league games and lost their last four encounters.
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