JOHANNESBURG – Tipped to fill in the void left by influential duo Thabo Nodada and Roland Putsche who are out injured, Travis Graham is aware of the responsibility that lies ahead and will do the bits he can to return the trust showed to him by Cape Town City.
Citizens’ chairman John Comitis’ faith in Graham is overwhelming. Since being completely frozen out by Ajax Cape Town for the full 2017/2018 season, Graham hasn’t played competitive football in almost 18 months.
But that was water off a duck’s back for Comitis - who was looking for an immediate replacement when two of his best players were out with long-term injuries right in the middle of the season where they are in a full stretch in challenging for Premiership honours - as Graham boasts an impressive CV that many can only dare to dream of.
“For now, it’s just trying to get back to the market and try to get as much games and help the team,” he said. “I won’t say I am 100% fit to start, but I will help wherever I can. (Coach) Benni (McCarthy) understands the situation and I have taken most of his advice.”
Considering his terrific rise for the Urban Warriors, it was a shock when the club completely demoted Graham to train with their MDC team for the entire season. Graham joined Ajax’s youth ranks in 2002, worked his way to a first team debut in the 2012/13 season, and was handed the captain’s armband in 2014, aged just 21. He led the team to the MTN8 glory in 2015. That spectacular record attracted suitors locally and abroad, but to his surprise, the club threw him to the dogs when he requested that they listened to the offers.
“Look, what happened at Ajax happened, and it’s in the past - it was disappointing considering that I’d been with the club for a while,” Graham explained.
“I did ask to leave, but unfortunately we were not on the same page. They put me out in the stands although I still wanted to play, because they wanted to punish me. In fact, it was my last year of my contract and I wanted the club to gain something from me but things didn’t go the way we planned.”
The phrase “karma has no menu, you get served what you deserve” became evident in Graham’s situation as the Urban Warriors went on to be relegated that season.
At the Citizens camp though, there’s no room for “relegation thoughts”, as they are championship material gunning for their second silverware this season, after already bagging the MTN8. They are fourth on the log standings and trail leaders Wits by five points - with 10 games to go.
Their next assignment is away to champions Mamelodi Sundowns at Loftus Versfeld tomorrow (7:30pm).
Whether Graham will feature or not, that will be decided this evening, but the 25-year-old footballer is already on his way back to full fitness as he got a rare start for the club’s MDC team in their 2-2 draw against Polokwane City on Saturday.
“I haven’t been playing competitively, but ja, slowly but surely, I’ll get there,” Graham said in a post-match interview at Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa.
“It’s important that I use every opportunity to get game-time, and 60 minutes under the belt was good, and we can take it from there.”