Re­flects on a fall that seemed to be a long time com­ing

This week marked the end of an era as Moroka Swal­lows bid farewell to the Absa Premier­ship. Daniel Mothowagae

CityPress - - Sport - Graphic). (see

Swal­lows boss Leon Prins said they were “sad and an­noyed that this [rel­e­ga­tion] hap­pened, but no­body is giv­ing up – we’ll fight back”.

His com­ments were made as one of Soweto’s old­est clubs started pre­par­ing for a new life in the Na­tional First Di­vi­sion (NFD).

“We have a board meet­ing on Tues­day to plan the way for­ward. That’s all I can say at the mo­ment.”

The one-time Beau­ti­ful Birds closed the chap­ter on their free fall this sea­son with a 1-0 de­feat that shot Jomo Cos­mos back to the Premier­ship.

“I have mixed emo­tions. My heart is sore for Swal­lows; I wish they could have stayed, but this is the na­ture of foot­ball,” said Cos­mos coach Jomo Sono af­ter his side swapped league sta­tus with Swal­lows on Wed­nes­day.

Sono also made it clear he would miss noth­ing about the lower league: “The NFD is not a nice place to be; we lost a lot of money.”

In the NFD, Swal­lows will have to ad­just to drawing a R380 000 monthly grant – a far cry from the Premier­ship’s R1.5 mil­lion. They will also have to as­sem­ble a new-look side to con­form with the NFD rule of field­ing three Un­der-23 play­ers.

De­spite the mis­ery and hurt of rel­e­ga­tion, Swal­lows are cer­tainly reap­ing what they have been sow­ing for a long time. The de­mo­tion should not be too much of a sur­prise.

One of the club’s for­mer play­ers, who asked for anonymity, this week re­marked that “Swal­lows were rel­e­gated the mo­ment Leon Prins took over as the new boss [in 1999]”.

It is not the first time that Prins has been on the re­ceiv­ing end of such com­ments – orig­i­nat­ing both from fans and the club’s mi­nor­ity share­hold­ers – in his 16 years at the helm of the club.

“This club was ru­ined in the 1990s,” Prins told City Press in a re­cent in­ter­view.

Swal­lows have been on a knife’s edge since the 2008/09 sea­son.

Two sea­sons ago, the Birds fin­ished three points above a play­off spot af­ter man­ag­ing mirac­u­lous sur­vivals in 2011 and 2009

This sea­son Swal­lows were given a stay of ex­e­cu­tion via the pro­mo­tion play-offs, but the in­evitable even­tu­ally had to hap­pen.

Swal­lows were one of the worst teams in the Premier­ship. With AmaZulu, they did not move above 13th place prior to their de­mo­tion.

It was not just about los­ing matches but the man­ner in which they suc­cumbed to those de­feats amid the battle for sur­vival.

The Birds threw away their leads on three oc­ca­sions dur­ing their last four games of the sea­son, drop­ping nine points out of a pos­si­ble 12.

By win­ning just three matches in 13 out­ings in 2015, the tale of the Dube Birds is one of an es­tab­lished club plum­met­ing to an all-time low.

In 18 years of the Pre­mier Soc­cer League, Swal­lows have won just three cups and failed to de­liver a league ti­tle.

Th­ese statis­tics pale into in­signif­i­cance when com­pared with Swal­lows’ il­lus­tri­ous Soweto neigh­bours, Kaizer Chiefs and Or­lando Pi­rates.

The Birds lose their sta­tus as be­ing one of the found­ing clubs of the PSL who’ve never left the elite league. Now only Chiefs, Pi­rates and Mamelodi Sun­downs have not been rel­e­gated in 18 years of the do­mes­tic league.

From be­ing the league’s run­ner­sup just three sea­sons ago to sec­ondtier league cam­paign­ers next year, no one can pre­dict for how long the Beau­ti­ful Birds will have to make the NFD their nest­ing grounds.

Eleventh. Avoided a play-off spot (15th) by four points, but went on to win theth Ned­bankNdb k Cup Cap­tain Siyabonga Nomvete

2008/09

Eighth

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