LONDON – Despite the recent treatment from club administrators, Bloemfontein Celtic’s supporters yet again proved on Wednesday why they have been the toast of PSL football in the past.
Led by the exuberant Botha Msila, a small group of Celtic’s supporters took over Terminal A of international departures at OR Tambo International Airport to bid farewell to the club’s reserve team for their 10-day tour to London.
This was their prize for winning last season’s MultiChoice Diski Challenge.
Nothing was extraordinary about these scenes, though, as this was done the Celtic way.
From outside the terminal, Msila led his compatriots and the team in song, chants and dance as they made their way into the terminal gates – a first in the league’s five-year existence.
Inside the airport, that small fry that had made its mark from a convoy leading from the team bus multiplied in numbers, as all sports fanatics who are suckers for song joined the crew – creating traffic for all those who were about to jet out of the country.
But since this was a national adventure and led by the famous Msila – who can travel to three different provinces through hitch-hiking to watch the beautiful game – law enforcers kept their distance.
But don’t be confused, thinking all is rosy and cosy at Celtic, as it wouldn’t have been as pleasing as it was on the eye if this was the club’s senior team.
Following the club’s financial woes, Siwelele supporters tried to hold meetings with the administrators to negotiate the way forward – but they mostly reached a dead-end.
The Siwelele’s 12th man off the field then started to depreciate as most boycotted their home matches – bemoaning how their feelings were not catered for by the club.
But if yesterday’s scenes are anything to go by, then these youngsters can tour London for the next 10 days knowing that they are loved by all back home.
The arrival at Heathrow Airport, after 10 hours in the air, had nothing on that farewell gesture at OR Tambo.
But as soon as they got off their flight and boarded the bus to their exit point at the airport, they were kind enough to give the English a taste of “Igwijo” – which has being pivotal in the dressing rooms of South Africa’s sporting codes.
Later in the day, they had their tour around the West Ham United Academy – which will serve as a base for the better part of the tournament.
However, the main attraction will be on Thursday night as they travel to the iconic Emirates Stadium to watch Arsenal, desperately looking to get a win, against Rennes in order to keep their Uefa Europa League aspirations alive.@Mihlalibaleka