I’d been meaning to get along to watch Witbank Spurs all of last season, but other stuff always seemed to crop up whenever they had a game. However, with the new National First Division season just a week old, a spare afternoon coincided with their opening home fixture.
Witbank normally play their games in Witbank. No surprise there really. This one though was another half an hour away along the N4 at the Themba Senemba stadium in Middelburg. I did wonder if the change of venue was a consequence of the service delivery protests that have been taking place in Witbank lately.
Apparently if the electricity goes off for a while, the appropriate response from the residents is to burn the local library down. That’ll show ‘em. If that doesn’t have the required impact you then escalate matters by setting fire to a few of your neighbours as well. Maybe they should march on the local power station when the library doesn’t have the latest Jeffrey Archer in.
The sat nav got me to the ground about ten minutes before kick-off. It looked to be a fairly poor area around the stadium, but I’ve been to worse. On the plus side, I didn’t get a call from the security manager at work asking what the hell I was doing there. His lack of interest boded well.
It was fifteen rand admission and that entitled me to take my car inside too and park it by the edge of the pitch. Very handy, as it meant I could keep an eye on it during the game. It’s a pity that they don’t have that option at Anfield to save me from having to pay protection money to eight year old scouse kids.
Although I could have watched the game from my car I made my way around to the stand on the opposite side of the pitch. There weren’t any seats but the steel structure was marginally more comfortable that the usual concrete floor.
There were around thirty people sat in the stand with another fifty or so dotted around the remaining sides of the pitch. I had a chat with a couple of locals who thought the organisation was a bit shambolic. It seemed pretty good to me, although I suppose I’m comparing it with the likes of Korea, where lower league games are often moved from one ground to another with no notification.
Witbank were playing in Argentina strips, whilst visitors Cape Town All-stars were in green. It had only been a month since I’d watched Cape Town gain promotion from the Second Division and their three-week close season seemed a little unfair on them.
The home side opened the scoring early on with a cracking goal from right-winger Themba. The ball fell to him on the edge of the box and he volleyed it home via the underside of the bar.
Cape Town had a couple of chances to level before the break but a lack of composure in front of goal meant that they went in behind at half-time.
Witbank doubled their lead not long into the second half with another shot from distance, this time from Ngobe, who celebrated with a double somersault. The half-arsed effort from the keeper to stop it earned him a few minutes of derision from the home crowd.
I’d noticed that the fourth official had a FIFA badge on his shirt and tracksuit. I bet not many FIFA refs in England spend their Sunday afternoons holding up the substitutions board at a game of a similar standard to Northern League.
Witbank seemed the bigger of the two sides, certainly at the back anyway, and with an even larger fella sat in front of the centre-halves they made life difficult for Cape Town. There were still cars coming into the ground as the game drew to a close with the home side secure in their two goal advantage.
So, that was it for the temporary Middelburg location and a stadium that I doubt I’d have got to if the Witbank residents hadn’t been so hasty with their petrol cans and lighters. Hopefully they will resist the urge to burn their local stadium to the ground and I’ll be able to see a game there at some point too.