At long last, Wits are PSL kings!


JOHANNESBURG – Founded in 1921 and Bidvest Wits’ most glorious milestone came on a chilly Wednesday night at their university grounds. It’s been some wait.

When Daine Klate, a Premier Soccer League legend in many respects with five titles to his name prior to kickoff, scored the second goal for the Clever Boys on the hour mark, it felt like it was written in the stars.

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Wits celebrate winning the PSL title on Wednesday night. Photo: @OfficialPSL via TwitterJames Keene (centre) starts the celebrations after scoring the opener for Wits. Photo: Gavin Barker, BackpagePixDaine Klate rifled the ball home for the second goal for Wits. Photo: Gavin Barker, BackpagePixGavin Hunt has won his fourth PSL title. Photo: Gavin Barker, BackpagePix

Wits have been saying they want to win things. That’s how the arrival of Gavin Hunt in 2013 was justified. It took him long enough to deliver though, but he did – his fourth championship.

He’s joined a special elite club alongside the late Ted Dumitru and Gordon Igesund in the PSL era to have clinched the title at least four times.

Hunt has no doubt earned a contract extension, with his current deal due to expire in June.

Owner Brian Joffe, whose hobby is to take pictures on the sidelines at this venue, will cherish this night. Those pictures should go up on his walls at home.

Just last week, Wits thought they had stuffed up the chance to win their maiden league title.

Even though Hunt would have unconsciously budgeted for defeat away at Free State Stars, given that in all the years he has been at Wits, the Clever Boys are yet to register a win at Goble Park.

In a TV interview a day later, the coach confessed that the lowly outfit from Bethlehem have always given him nightmares, even during his playing days.

At Goble Park, Wits were thumped 3-1 and several players went to the ground in disbelief, while others were sobbing.

That was before they heard that second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns, the reigning champions, had shared the spoils with Baroka FC thanks to a controversial last-gasp penalty awarded to Baroka by referee Thando Ndzandzeka.

The score ended 2-2 and Wits remained top and two points clear with two games still to be played in the run-in.

Again, you’d have to be quite stubborn not to think that maybe after 96 years of huffing and puffing, it was written in the stars.

Gavin Hunt knew the job was completed as he celebrates a sensational goal by Daine Klate. Photo: Gavin Barker, BackpagePix

A week later here, Wits played with intent. It wouldn’t have been a typical Hunt team if the former SuperSport United league-winning coach didn’t make at least five changes to the previous starting team.

We will still have to look at the statistics, but it will be hard to find a coach among the top five teams this season who has tinkered with his side as much as Hunt has en route to winning this championship.

If Wits had imploded in their five or so remaining matches this season, like they have done in the last three since Hunt arrived, then he would have had to shoulder the blame.

But he’s delivered the championship, ran the marathon and emerged victorious. As coaches often say, they look intelligent when these come off.

Wits were not the most consistent side in the league, and Hunt will be the first to admit that.

But they have an incredible home record, especially in the second half of the season, where they only lost once here at this venue.

What a long wait, but deserved champions.

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