The Clever Boys, newly-crowned Absa Premiership champions as of Wednesday night, have shown their endurance in the marathon that is the league title race. However, they’ve always done it as a collective, especially if you consider that Gavin Hunt is the coach.
Now four-time championship-winning mentor alongside Gordon Igesund and the late Ted Dumitru, Hunt said he’s never been one to moan about personal accolades, but felt some of his players deserved a little bit more credit than what has come their way.
“Never, even when we won the league three times with SuperSport United, the Footballer of the Year would come from a team that finished eighth,” Hunt said, recalling how, when Matsatsantsa won their maiden championship in 2008, then Orlando Pirates’ Teko Modise was crowned the Footballer of the Year, a prestige more lucrative than Player of the Year, which went the way of Elias Pelembe, a SuperSport player.
There is also debate as to whether Hunt might have to go neck-and-neck with Cape Town City’s Eric Tinkler for the Coach of the Year gong despite guiding Wits to the championship and his counterpart, while his side’s journey this season has been remarkable, looks set to finish in third place at the end of the campaign.
“Maybe all these awards don’t work for us,” said Hunt. “What I do know is that we have three or four candidates, but I won’t name them.”
It’s tough to speculate who would be up for an individual award at Wits. While they have finally ended a 96-year drought to bag the championship, Hunt has not necessarily relied on the same players throughout, chopping and changing at will, but to good effect.
He also argued that Daine Klate, who took his tally of league medals to six on Wednesday night, was incredibly underrated in the country.
The 32-year-old was in the thick of it when SuperSport won three consecutive championships in 2008, 2009 and 2010 (all under Hunt). Ditto when he moved to Orlando Pirates and the Buccaneers twice won the treble in 2011 and 2012.
“My relationship with him is my size eight foot up his backside,” the coach said. “And he waned a little bit this year, he knows that, but he came back and on the day we win the league he scores a goal like that (the second in a 2-0 win over Polokwane City).
"Daine should not train Monday to Friday, but just come on Saturdays, in my opinion, because then he’s better. He lost his way a little bit off the field, but now he’s okay. I have told him that he’s done more for me than anybody in my life. But if he doesn’t keep doing it, then he’s out. He has to maintain the hunger because if he loses that, he won’t play.”
Meanwhile, Hunt looks likely to sign a contract extension at Wits even if it’s only to have a paper trail after chief executive José Ferreira claimed on Wednesday night that “the coach can stay as long as he wants to and leave when he wants to”.
Hunt revealed that he was due to meet his bosses to discuss the way forward, and will know then if he’s offered a new deal with his current contract expiring at the end of the season.
“Now would be a good time to sign a new contract, wouldn’t it? Get a few whiskeys in,” he said. “We have a big meeting (Friday), a board meeting. I’ve never been to a board meeting, so I don’t know what it’s about. But it’s a good time to go and I want to go now while the iron is hot.”