#TBT : Mainstay Cup Final – Full Match Report – Highlands Park vs Kaizer Chiefs – 1979
Article By : Nkanyiso Mathamba
What a cup final. The R71 000.00 Mainstay Cup final of the NPSL at the Rand stadium on Saturday, 24 November 1979 and the subsequent replay at Orlando Stadium on 27 November 1979 had all the ingredients of a cup final.
The pride and joy of Soweto, Kaizer Chiefs eventually lifted the crown, in the reply. By virtue of the victory over Dion Highlands, Chiefs became the first ‘Black’ club in the revamped NPSL to walk away with a major title. The first match of the final was played in a pouring rain at the capacity packed Rand Stadium. It ended in a 3-3 draw after the two were level at 2-2 after 90 minutes of pulsating football.
There were controversies and there were exciting moments. Above all, there were goals, plenty to thrill the soccer fans. Disciplinarian Dave Griffiths, used his cards like disco lights. First he produced a series of yellow cards, then a red one. This exercise was followed when he produced yellow cards and another red card.
Play was held up for ten minutes in the second half when Simon “Bull” Lehoko refused to walk after Griffiths had given him a red card for dangerous play on Julie Kaplan of Dion Highlands.
It was during this time that the inefficient administration of the NPSL came to the fore. It was utter chaos and millions of eyes saw the spectacle on the box. In fact, SABC TV interrupted the showing of the match for a couple of minutes so that the viewers could not see the disgraceful scenes.
Sanity was restored after Lehoko was persuaded to leave the ground. With Chiefs reduced to ten men, they held on grimly. In extra time, the teams were again on equal footing when Highland’s Julie Kaplan was shown the red card for allegedly abusing a linesman. Johannes “Ryder” Mofokeng were also recipients of Griffiths yellow card. The match never produced a dull moment. While tempers frayed on the field of play, the same excitement was apparent on the stands.
Highlands were the better side of the day. They were unlucky not to take the cup home to Balfour Park. They were more purposeful and played the most direct football. When in possession, they were effective and dangerous. They had more chances at goal than their opponents, although they had far less vocal backing. Highlands had a number of shots at goal, these produced three goals, had the Phefeni lad’s goalkeeper been safer with his hands, none of the goals would have materialised. Burri Martin, Chief’s goalkeeper was jittery, especially when dealing with high balls which he failed to gather them cleanly.
Chiefs had less than eight direct shots at goal and of these few attempts, three were converted into goals. Compared to a busy Burri Martin, Highlands’ goalkeeper, Eugene Kleynhans had a comparatively easy afternoon. Highlands started like a house on fire; they had more control in the opening minutes with Jerry Sadike missing two glorious chances of opening the scoreboard. Before the scoreboard showed any figures, Ryder Mofokeng the yellow card for querying Dave Griffith’s decision for a kick against him
In the 28th minute, Chiefs surged ahead; a place kick by the late Shaka Ngcobo found the unmarked Leonard “Wagga Wagga” Lekoebe about 25 meters away from the goal line. The latter’s powerful on the run drive from outside the box went sailing past the groping hands of Eugene Kleynhans. That was the only goal in the first 45 minutes. Eight minutes after the restart of the second half, Chiefs sailed further ahead, Zacharia Lamola lived up to his name when Eugene fumbled and with a computer-timed precision shot, he chipped it over the keeper.
At that stage, it looked as if the final, as contested, was over but Highlands had other ideas. The shouting and hand clapping for Chiefs’ second goal had hardly died down when the deficit was reduced. In one of many raids on the Chiefs goal, Bobby Viljoen a pass by Gordon Igesund to inject life into the game. Highlands pressed for the equalizer and it became a grim struggle for Chiefs, the Phefeni Glamour boys defended stubbornly as the tigerish Highlands shot from all angles trying every trick in the book to level the matters. With Chiefs under siege, tempers obviously flared and it became a do or die struggle. It was in one of those struggles that Lehoko sent Julie Kaplan flying. First is appeared that the Highlands player had taken a dive but after a linesman brought it to the attention of the referee, the Bull was shown the red card.
It was then that all hell broke loose, chaos reigned supreme. With Chiefs playing with ten men, they really battled to survive the onslaught. The equalizer came in the 78th minute when Des Backos headed home a Jerry Sadike corner, Burri Martin failing to deal with it decisively. At the end of 90 minutes, the two teams were still level at 2-2. In the first minute of extra time, Stuart Lilley handled the ball in the box and the late Ace Ntsoelengoe made no mistake from the spot kick.
Two minutes later, the teams were again level when the lanky Andy Stanton scrambled home during the goal-mouth scuffle. At the end of 120 minutes the game had reached a stalemate and a replay was ordered. It was decided to have the replay at the same venue; however there were some problems with the Johannesburg City Council. The council wanted the game to begin at Noon and later relented to 13:30pm. The reason given for this ungodly starting time was that the crowd at the stadium would interfere with the homeward bound traffic and the traffic police would not be able to control them. Whatever the decision was, the soccer bosses for the first time did not agree with the government and moved the game to Orlando Stadium instead where it started at 16:00pm to give all supporters even those that are working an opportunity to get to the game.
At one stage even contemplated foregoing the game and asked the teams to share the prize. The teams didn’t agree with this idea and the game went on. In the reply, Lehoko and Kaplan were allowed to play. Their cases were heard in the boardroom and were given suspended sentences. Highlands continued with the same blend of football and once again Chiefs came under tremendous pressure. They survived the onslaught and after a goalless first half, they came back with a stunning effect. The trio of the late Ngcobo, Computer and the late Wagga Wagga destroyed Highlands and it was these three men who tore Highlands defence into pieces.
After 53 minutes of intense football, the first of Chiefs’ goals came. Ngcobo swivelled in a neat pass from Computer and his sizzler hit the back of the net. The contest was all over in the 72nd minute, a Wagga Wagga corner to Ngcobo and Wagga rushed in with such blistering pace that no Highlands player saw him run through for the follow-up to score the second goal. Perhaps Highlands were the architects of their defeat; the high ball which they used so effectively at the Rand Stadium did not work this time. This time the Chiefs defence was prepared for these balls and even players like Burri Martin handled the situation very well with excellent composure. The replay was the reverse of the original game in that Chiefs were more purposeful once the game grew older while Highlands floundered. One other positive this time was the discipline shown by the players so much that the referee couldn’t use his disco cards at will.