The once iconic, yet now delapidated Caledonian Stadium in Arcadia. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
PLAYERS at the iconic Caledonian Stadium yesterday hung up their soccer boots and used their hands instead to fix the dilapidated fence around the stadium.

From the morning the first team of 26 players, cobbled up whatever they could get their hands on, to fix the human-size holes in the fence.

Loose fencing, wires and scrap metal formed part of the barrier to patch the fence.

The stadium, which groomed the “cream of the crop” in the Premier Soccer League, is now used as a passage or gateway to various destinations around the city.

Arcadia Shepherds coach Dennis Maduna said the state of the stadium was deteriorating and that was hurting the players even more psychologically than anything else.

“We can’t just sit back and watch our grounds become a shambles. So we decided to roll up our sleeves and do it ourselves. We don’t have support from the City of Tshwane, so we have to soldier on with the little that we have,” he said.

Maduna said players were fed up with drug addicts frequently passing through the grounds. They gained entry through the gaping holes in the fence along Francis Baard Street.

He said drug addicts were helping themselves to anything that is steel and metal to feed their cravings.

Last week thieves stole the crossbar - the horizontal bar forming part of the goal post.

And again on Wednesday they stole another crossbar. Subsequently this makes it difficult (for teams) to practise or even host games.

Caretaker of the stadiumJabu Mahlangu said things were getting out of control and he at times feared for his life.

He said a lack of maintenance and vandalism had left the stadium in a bad state, the grandstands were falling apart. Barbed wire was used to replace the missing toilet doors and windows.

After patching up the fence, players started training saying they felt a tad safer.

Caledonian Stadium was a catalyst of most of the sporting success in the country,

Situated in the heart of the city, the stadium is home to Arcadia Shepherds Football Club that has used the stadium for more than a century.

The stadium has in the past been surrounded by controversy.

The former ANC-led administration wanted to turn the iconic stadium into a R100million inner city park.

However, that decision was overturned by the DA-led City government, with mayor Solly Msimanga assembling a task team to safeguard the stadium to make sure it remained a sporting field instead of the proposed park.