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When Chiefs Did The Impossible In The Soweto Derby....

These days, the rivalry between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs is still strong... but back in the wild and crazy days, it boiled to fever pitch! Banks and Ace tell us about a particular game where Pirates were leading 3-1, 12 minutes before the end of the match. Some supporters left the stadium at that stage… Bucs fans to celebrate their successful bets and Chiefs fans to drown their sorrows. But, Soccer- aduma readers, as we all know, it ain’t over till it’s over!


Peter: Gents, a Soccer Laduma reader with a great memory says in the early 1970s there was an Orlando Pirates-Kaizer Chiefs derby that completely changed complexion in the last 10 minutes. So much so that rioting took place and there was so much betting going on that it was incredible.

Ace: The guy must be talking about that unbelievable game in ‘73 or ‘74 at Orlando Stadium. Hell, this was a game...what a game!

Peter: Talk, talk...tell us more.

Banks: This is a hellava story. You know, in those days, when we were going to play Pirates, the supporters used to come to training sessions and they would decide whether it was worth taking a bet on us or not. They would judge us at training and then decide if we were going to beat Pirates or not.

Ace: And the Pirates supporters were doing the same to their team. It was intense, man. Seriously, if the bets were big it became known, especially if the guys taking the bets were know the stories would spread like wildfire.

Banks: You can imagine. Now for the derby, two big officials from each team had a big bet against each other. Now they obviously told us players and soon, the whole of Soweto knew of the bet. There was a lot of money at stake and because they took such a big bet, suddenly it caught on, creating a craze and everyone was betting...from little amounts to big amounts. It was scary. 

Ace: Ja, and us players felt under even more pressure than before.

Peter: Match day must have been tension-filled. Orlando Stadium must have been electric.

Ace: It was. I mean, Peter, you know Orlando Stadium, you’ve played there. It always had a special atmosphere. And for Chiefs-Pirates games, the atmosphere was always unbelievable. But for this game...hell, the stadium was about to take off - it was so full of tension and excitement.

Banks: It was crazy, completely crazy. Can you imagine? Well, the first half, it was 1-1. In the second half Pirates came back very strong and, with 12 minutes to go, they were leading 3-1.

Peter: Phew.

Ace: Yes, with only about 10 or 12 minutes to go, Pirates were beating us 3-1. Their supporters were dancing and singing with joy...already counting their money. Some of them even left the stadium to go get a place in the shebeen to celebrate their victory and spend their winnings. I mean they were spending their money even though they were only due to collect their winnings the next day.

Banks: And because of the betting hysteria, it was like the lotto, almost everyone in the stadium had a bet. Big or small, they all had a bet, or at least that’s how it seemed, because everyone had been talking about bets before the game.

Ace: Even the Kaizer Chiefs supporters started to leave the stadium, but they were going to drown their sorrows. Well, the next thing Zero Johnson came on, played a square pass and it was 3-2. Two minutes later, he did it again 3-3. 

Banks: Can you believe it? 

Peter: Incredible.

Ace: With one minute to go, we did it again, we scored - making it 4-3 to Kaizer Chiefs.

Peter: No way!

Ace: Seriously!

Banks: Ha, ha, honest, what a comeback, 3-1 down to Pirates, with time running out, only 12 minutes to go and we ended up winning 4-3. Now can you imagine? There was no TV in those days and the supporters in the shebeen didn’t have the radio on. They thought Pirates had won because they left when the score was 3-1 and it was too noisy in the shebeen to hear the few radios that were on. The next thing, fighting broke out all around the stadium and in the shebeens near the stadium. 

Ace: The Orlando Pirates supporters were furious that Pirates had lost, and that they’d lost their money as well. 

Banks: But what made it even worse was that they’d already been celebrating the Pirates victory and they were already spending their winnings. So when the Kaizer Chiefs supporters started coming in, singing and teasing them, all hell broke loose!

Peter: Hell, what was it like for you guys, the players? 

Ace: Ha, ha. We had to wait for the security to take us out of the stadium. It was unbelievable. I can laugh now, but it was very scary then. The Pirates supporters took out their frustrations on us. They were throwing everything they could lay their hands on at us. It was terrifying! You know Chiefs was still a new team in those days. We didn’t have as much support as Pirates at that stage and our supporters were peace loving and more modern. 

Banks: The Pirates supporters were obviously bigger in numbers and they had a reputation as big fighters. They loved fighting - they were a very tough bunch. Our supporters were young hippies - afros, bellbottoms, peace signs around their necks...they weren’t fighters but the Pirates supporters were.           

Peter: What a game...what a story!

Ace: In those days if you beat Pirates on the field, they would try to beat you off the field...those were crazy times. 

Banks: Crazy, but full of passion.

Peter: After that story, guys, you need a rest so...

Ace: Ja...take it easy...just like Sunday morning.

Banks: Amen.


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