Gavin Hunt will take all the plaudits, and deservedly so, but there were several exceptional men behind the creation of a championship-winning team at Bidvest Wits over the past four years, breaking a 96- year title drought.
On Wednesday night, the oldest team in South Africa clinched their maiden Premier League trophy with a 2-0 victory at home against Polokwane City – the draw in Atteridgeville between defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns and Maritzburg United guaranteeing that they did so with a game to spare.
Hunt has been the mastermind, no doubt. However, these four men had plenty to do with this triumph, perhaps as much as the now four-time league-winning coach.
(Brian Joffe) Wits chairman For the big boss, this has been 12 years in the making. He’s had to watch the team set their sights only on a top-eight finish season after season, and it wasn’t until recently – when Bidvest pumped in the money to help them compete – that he would enjoy seeing them in the running for the championships.
Joffe used to watch English side Sunderland scrape through each year during a partnership that recently ended, and it was a strange coincidence that a few weeks after they were relegated, Wits were crowned champions.
“We’ve spent lots of money, put in lots of effort and got support from the company. I mean we were relegated when Bidvest first bought a part of the club (in 2005), but we came back strongly the next season and have improved massively from the time Gavin got here. I think we were unlucky not to win last year and the year before,” he said of the milestone.
(Jose Ferreira) Wits chief executive Unlike Joffe, he arrived at the club with a championship background having been employed by Sundowns and SuperSport United before, two teams who have plenty of league titles between them.
Ferreira has found his own little niche, being meticulous in knowing when to approach a top player out of contract and convince him to join his team. He’s executed that with precision since he became chief executive at Wits before recruiting Hunt to join him on his crusade.
They put together one of the strongest sides in the elite league and becoming champions this week was not by chance.
(George Mogotsi) Director One of the true soldiers behind the scenes, “Bra George” doesn’t take nonsense. It was emotional for all who know him to see Mogotsi, for the first time in 33 years, running the length of the pitch with a red coloured flag with the words champions printed on it.
Prior to this season’s league and cup (Wits won the MTN8 in October) double, Mogotsi had only been seen running on the field to deal with a pitch invader, but Wednesday was a crowning moment for him, too.
(Daine Klate) Wits winger and serial winner. It felt so right that it was the 32-year-old who scored the second goal that gave the Clever Boys a much needed cushion on a night they had earmarked as the one where they would win the most elusive trophy in the club’s history.
In lifting yet another title, his sixth in SA football, Klate stamped his authority as the country’s most decorated player. He admitted that he’s had the most fights with coach Hunt over the course of the season, but that was part of the reason why he joined the club – to contribute on and off the pitch, being as loud as can be in an experienced dressing room.