Home Opinion and Features A taste of glory for the pride of the Winelands

A taste of glory for the pride of the Winelands

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In what is very much a high-pressure competition, Stellenbosch spent over four months at the top of the log

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WELCOME to the big time, Stellenbosch Football Club!

“Stellies” earned automatic promotion to the Premier Soccer League after the final round of National First Division matches was completed yesterday.

It is a tremendous achievement for the club, and one of the people who should be at the top of the honours boards is Stellenbosch coach Steve Barker.

Barker coached the University of Pretoria – AmaTuks – to the title in 2012 and automatic promotion to the PSL, and now the nephew of legendary former national coach Clive Barker has repeated the feat with Stellenbosch FC.

Barker, a former Wits player and coach of AmaZulu, joined Stellies in 2016 as an assistant coach and, a year later replaced Sammy Troughton as head coach.

From the beginning, he had only one goal in mind – to win promotion to the top flight of South African football.

When the club was established in 2016, Edries Burton, former Santos stalwart and now chief operating officer of Stellies, said: “The name ‘Stellenbosch FC’ shows our intention of creating a club that symbolises the Cape Winelands community. We’re on a pathway of building something special and we want to take this community with us.”

The club has lived up to those goals in more ways than one.

One of the secrets to their success is having their own home ground – Idas Valley Sports Ground – and promoting young talent from the Winelands region through their academy.

In what is very much a high-pressure competition, Stellenbosch spent over four months at the top of the log.

It has been a team effort, but strikers Iqraam Rayners (19 goals for the season) and Gregory Roelf were always at the forefront and there have also been notable performances from the likes of wingers Jarrod Moroole and Leletu Skelem, and the midfield pairing of Nkanyiso Zungu and Junior Awono.

We’re pretty sure that Benni ­McCarthy, coach of Cape Town City, will be one of the first to welcome Stellenbosch into the PSL fold, and there is also a chance that Ajax Cape Town may return to the top flight if they can win the upcoming National First Division play-offs.