1946: The Founding of the Club
Football has always been an important part of our life and our heritage. As part of the community of the old Marabastad, Laudium and the broader South Africa, soccer has represented a fundamental aspect of our society that has enabled us to engage together and to build an enthusiasm for sport, non‑racialism, unity and importantly participation. Over the years Delfos Football Club has come not only to portray this mosaic of sport, but to actively work to engrain it in our principles, organisation and our overall participation in the broader context of the game and society.
This heritage has been instrumental in the formation of Delfos Football Club and its continued existence in an era when sport and the socio‑economic political lives were ravaged by the apartheid system and institutions of separate development. Yet we have persevered and will continue to persevere to struggle for the elements of non‑racialism, unity, democracy and equal opportunity.
In an era when participation in the local soccer league was the pinnacle of any sports person’s career, rivalry between teams, supporters and players was extremely fierce. It was in this context that in 1946 Boet Gammer, “Poppy” Cassim, Solomon Earnest, Mohamed Bagus, Tom Moodley and Ali Hassim (a breakaway group from Cambridge Football Club) formed a new soccer club in Marabastad called Delfos Football Club.
As a compromise between the names The Forces FC and Delfos FC (an existing “white” team at the time) the founding members chose the name that was to ring in the ears of generations to come, Delfos Football Club. Many of the players of the team came from teams all over Pretoria at that time; namely Cambridge, Pretorians and Swaraj, and the team and management of those early years was as follows:
Solomon Earnest (President), Bala Pillay (Secretary), “Poppy” Cassim (Treasurer), R. “Boy” Padayachey (became Treasurer in 1957)
A. Hassim, “Pop” Anthony, “Babi” Dawood, Tom Moodley, Somas Appasamy, K D Moses, Bala Pillay, Boet Gammer, Mohamed Bagus, “Poppy” Cassim, Gani Naidoo, Anirut Singh, “Manna” Anthony, “Bathoos” Pillay, Yusuf Adam, Solly Theba and Naran Naidoo.
During this period the club met the challenges that faced them head‑on, winning the local district league from 1946 to 1952. Delfos Football also produced their first Transvaal caps during this time in Boet Gammer, Bala Pillay, Mohamed Bagus, Somas Appasamy and Pop Anthony. These achievements together with the vibrant personality of Solomon Ernest made Delfos a household name in Marabastad.
1950’s: The Early Years
Although the club was only known in Pretoria at this time, in 1957 Delfos FC. became Transvaal League champs and started an era of soccer that thrilled soccer enthusiasts everywhere as Delfos became the toast of Pretoria and the Transvaal.
The team and officials that started this avalanche of footballing success was :‑
Bala Pillay (President), Gonoseelan Pillay (Secretary), R. Padayachy (Treasurer), A. Hassim (Manager)
T. Singh (Captain), D. Soma (V Capt.), Nades Pillay, Basil Bhanabhai, Douglas Harris, Bai Singh, Karia Moses, J. Pillay, I. Ravat, A. Thumbran, Mili Moses, Georga Pillay, Gonoseelan Pillay, V. Singh, S.Veeramoothoo
In 1958 the club embarked on the first tour to Durban as the guests of Bridgeview FC and achieved some success in beating the Picked xi (5‑2) but losing to Brigeview (5‑3).
For the next few years that followed the club had its ups and downs, but always managed to remain among the top three in the Transvaal League. At the same time Gonoseelan Pillay whose untiring work spurred the club, the association and footballers alike to strive for greater, yet principled successes, was capped for Transvaal along with Teeluk Singh, Karia Moses, Basil Bhanabhai and D. D. Soma.
1960’s: Prelude to the ‘Golden Era’
The popularity and the success of the club resulted in the club being approached to play professional football in 1960. However, because of lack of funds and short‑sightedness this never materialised. So with the advent of professional football at Natalspruit, amateur soccer started dying out around 1963. All the well known clubs soon disappeared, but Delfos managed to survive by continuing to play friendlies against the professional clubs and entering tournaments.
In 1962 Delfos were the runners‑up in the Roodepoort tournament and in 1964 embarked on a second tour of Durban where they beat the Durban League Champions (6-4) but lost to the Durban FA. XI (3-1).
Possibly the greatest achievement by Delfos was in 1967 when Delfos FC played as Northern Transvaal in an inter‑provincial tournament organised by the STFU at Natalspruit. The following team lost the final to STFU (2‑1):‑
Gonoseelan Pillay, Magan Ramjee, Nithia Moodley, Poobala Pillay, Satch Chetty, Hira Soma, Basil Bhanabhai, Jothi Muthaya, Somas Nayager, Bhoolie Mooloo, Jasmet Soma, Sikander Tayob and Gandhi Pillay
Over the years of the club’s existence it has produced some of the most prolific football players in Pretoria and possibly in the game at that time. Certain names come instantly to mind; Boet Gammer, the brilliant Gonoseelan Pillay, Diar Soma, Basil Blianabliai, Jothi Muthaya, Somas Nayager and Poobala Padayachy (with no discredit to any of the other outstanding ambassadors of the club and game). In the same instance the club has also produced the.explosive and classy Nithia Moodley who apart from representing Transvaal and Northern Transvaal has represented South Africa.
1970’s: The Golden Era!
Like the caterpillar that transforms into a butterfly and the transformation of coal into precious diamonds, the 1970’s represented a period of unprecedented style, panache, quality and success (on and off the field) in the history of Delfos Football. It is a period in which the success of the club can only be appreciated by a chronological representation of this success.
1970‑ Winners Atlantis Soccer Tournament
1970‑ Semi‑finalists Amarat Bhowan Tournament
1972‑ GMT winners Losers Final
1973‑ GMT runners‑up
1973‑ 3rd position S.T.EU.
1975‑ GMT winners Losers Final
The team that achieved this success was as follows:‑
H. Soma, D. Pillay, S. Chetty, D. Soma, S. Nayager, H. Mooloo, M. Ramjee, N. Moodley, J. Nation, P. Bhaktawer, S. Tayob, J. Muthaya
During this period the club also engaged in hosting a tournament in memory of one of the most active and vibrant custodians of Delfos, football and the ideas of unity, democracy and non‑racialism. The Gonoseelan Memorial Tournament proved to one of the most significant events on the sporting calendar. Unfortunately it has not continued.
This period inspired the youth and the club officials to embark on a lavish programme of youth recruitment and building, something that remains a cornestone of the club till today. The club at this stage had teams in the various categories and four senior teams (Tini Delfos, Delfos Colts and two other Delfos teams).
This too brought success to the club as the juniors were runners‑up in the PDFA tournament in 1976 and the Colts were the winners of the PDFA Knockout in the same year.
1980’s: The Building Process
As the 1970’s drew to a close the old officials and players too reached the winter of their careers and the club desperately needed to rebuild to ensure the existence and continued success of the club. Many of the old players such as D. D. Soma, Nithia Moodley and Magan Ramjee soon became officials and although the junior programme continued, the moving out of the old Marabastad, the general disinterest in soccer and above all the initial failure of the club to live up to the previous decades promise made tasks increasingly difficult.
Yet as the decade dragged on, the tearn began to metamorphosise an eventually with the continued guidance of the officials and players began to relive some of the past successes, especially in the juniors, as the under 16 and under 18 teams won the knock outs in successive years and were runners up in the league.
The senior team achieved the success of becoming the PDFA second division league champs and joint holders of the PDFA tournament in 1984, but although we won a promotion to the Transvaal Soccer Board, we were plagued with continual failure. At the same time this period also saw the passing of one of the most enthusiastic figures in the club – Aubrey Padayachey.
1987 saw the turning point in this drought, as the senior team (now incorporating many juniors) won the league unbeaten as well as the PDFA Essops Cup. At the same time the team continued to produce top footballing officials as well as Transvaal caps: Rajen Moodley, Thava Pillay and Sivaraj Moodley.
1990’S AND THE FUTURE
With the unbanning of the ANC and the move towards democracy in South Africa football unity soon followed. This affected the club tremendously as now club won the promotion to the Impala league in 1991 and the club was able to play an even more active role in the unity process, democratization and equal opportunities for all people in South Africa.
In 1991, Delfos soon became league champions in the Impala League playing some of the most attractive football in years. This year also marked the beginning of the Annual Delfos Ball as a fundraising event for the club. This has generated huge success and support over the years and continues to be an extremely popular occasion. During 1991the team engaged in the first outgoing since1964 as we played in the national Sparletta Knock out competition in Nelspruit drawing 1-1 and then unfortunately losing the next round.
1992 saw the promotion to the newly established Super league and ironically it was the first time since our formation that the club began to participate against “white” teams(from what our name was originally drawn).
The unprecedented success of this year generated an interest beyond the football fold. Soon a Delfos Volleyball club as well as a cricket club was formed as the Delfos name and support spread throughout the sporting community, now not only off the field but on as well. This year also saw the formation of a second senior team in the PDFA aptly called “The Dream Team”.
Together with this, we were able to build a team that once again played attractive football and was comparable to the best in the Northern Transvaal. At the end of 1992 season Delfos ended up a credible 4th on the log. This inspired the officials and supporters to once again take football to the community.
As part of the ongoing programme, it was it was realized more fervently than before that the strength of our team and sport in the community in general lies in our youth. Bearing this in mind Delfos approached many parents and supporters to become engaged in football. As Delfos we recognized that the schools are the most important source of young sportspeople and soon began organizing mini coach clinics for junior footballers.
The interest I junior football exploded and by the end of 1992/3 we had teams in every junior division achieving success after success. Although the interest in he sport has waned since this period,Delfos has remained committed to providing an avenue for junior football and to date we have two under 10 teams and a team in every other division.
The end of the 46th year was closed with a grand event. This time, besides the Grand Ball, the first banquet Delfos history was held. It was time to say “Thank You” to everybody. All the players, administrators, members, supporters and their families were invited to receive a special congratulation, to relive a bit of nostalgia and be part of the Delfos comradely once again.
1993 saw the first trip by Delfos outside the province since the previous trips to Durban. Delfos attended the easter tournament held in East London. It was a marvelous event, in which Delfos made many friends and spread their reputation as a team that nevr said “die”. In the first game the team came back from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 and in the quarter final Delfos came back from 3-0 down to equalize, but then to unfortunately lose 4-3 after extra time.
Delfos returned to Pretoria full of confidence and won the Madi Memorial tournament. However it was also a year of the biggest disappointmentfor Delfos as internal politicking and petty rivalry saw the collapse of the N Transvaal Super League. This was exacerbated by the untimely death of one of our favourite sons – Sivaraj Moodley. Delfos were forced to return to the PDFA. This disappointment was softened to an extent as Dlfos went on to win the PDFA league title.
At the same time many Delfos players were chosen to represent the PDFA district and the under 21 squads in various tournaments.
Notwithstanding the success of being league champs I 1993, the continued lack of any upper league, saw Delfos lose out on a promotional opportunity. Once again selfish motivation amongst the affiliates of the previous”white” league and officials of other districts ensured that the Super league never opened.
Delfos were destined to retur n to the PDFA which has historically provided such a warm and comfortable home since its inception. The darling symbiosis which has been so prevalent and so far reaching, simply continued and flourished.
On the field though, Delfos experienced its most disappointing year in a long time. An extremely poor performance in the league was exacerbated by the failure to win any any knock out tournaments in 1994.Delfos Premier Division team finally ended up third on the log in a year which saw a chronic lack of interest amongst the players and administration.
However, if there was something to look forward toit was the juniors and The Dream Team. For the first time the Dream team reached the final of a knock out competition- losing to Aces F.C. in the Umma Cup. The juniors too continued to make great strides winning many tournaments and league titles. At least the future looked promising.
Something needed to be done. It was time to get out of the comfort zone of the PDFA and sek other avenues where Delfos could once again build and rebuild, see new sights and seek new horizons. So in 1995 Delfos, through the PDFA and with its blessings, affiliated a senior team in the NTCDFA.
For the first time in over a decade Delfos was able to enter a situation that facilitated its junior programme. This was occasioned by the structure in the NTCDFA allowing all teams to register a larger team than normal and catering for this by having a premier and reserve structurein one league. It fashioned a great opportunity for Delfos to introduce many of its young players into first team football, some who had been with delos since under 10.
The early stages were extremely difficult. The new experience and the different standard of football took its toll on the performance of the club and for most of the season Delfos was anchored to the bottom of the table, with only a sprinkling of victories. However as the season progressed, the obvious advantages of playing in this different league became more apparent. Increasingly Delfos began to draw in statute and players began to rediscover and recapture an awareness and talent in unprecedented proportions. A late surge of solid victories ensured that Delfos ended up in the middle of the log and had recaptured a footballing fantasy that seemed lost.
For Delfos, the PDFA was never to be deserted. It was an organization that had become an intergral part of the Delfos structure. For generaions
A Tribute to Our Heroes and Heroines
Paying tribute to the many people that have made this club what it is today is probably the most difficult task. How does one acknowledge all those contributions and sacrifices without committing the cardinal sin of unintentionally failing to mention some person?
Be that as it may, the “DELFOS FOOTBALL CLUB” takes this opportunity to pay homage to the countless number of people that have passed through its ranks over the years. To all those mothers, wives, sisters and maids that have had to wash those smelly socks. They spent hours preparing meals for tournaments and dances. There were even times when many a mother or wife, waited anxiously for players to return from a trip while we casually enjoyed a pint or two; if not more. Their time and patience does not go un‑noticed.
To the managers and officials that had the un‑enviable task of attending meetings; raising funds and even enduring verbal and physical abuse, sometimes even from the players. Without their foresight and endurance our team would probably have been something completely different.
Then to each and every player and supporter that has been a part of this club. Those that unselfishly stuck by the club even when we hit rock bottom. While others sacrificed their businesses and families for the sake of the club. We salute you.
One could go on forever listing the unselfish contributions made by all those people. To them we say a special “THANK YOU’
How do we describe this man who meant so much to so many people?
But we think that he meant more to soccer than to anyone else and it is because of this that the soccer world will always be at a loss without him. We are not only paying tribute to a worthy man but at the same are also trying to raise soccer to greater heights.
Gono, as he was popularly known, started his footballing career with Swaraj FC. He soon left Swaraj to join Delfos and it is during those years that we remember him best. As a member of Delfos, Gono was a father figure who achieved greatness as a player and an administrator.
As a player he represented the PDFA and Transvaal on numerous occasions and was part of the Transvaal team that won the much coveted Godfrey Williams Trophy and the Delfos team that represented Northern Transvaal in the Sam China Cup and later narrowly missed Springbok selection.
As an administrator, he excelled beyond all bounds. His untiring efforts, efficiency and organising prowess over years and years made Delfos a household name and as President of the PDFA (12 years) he made the PDFA one of the top soccer organisations in the country. His horizons also spread further than football and as the secretary and wicketkeeper for the Northern Transvaal Cricket Union continued his magnificent contribution to sport.
We will always remember and more importantly be indebted to Gono.
The three old men ‑ Uncle Diar, Uncle Dick and Uncle Magan
Finally, to the grand old men of the club. “Uncle Dick; Uncle Diar and Uncle Magan.”
These gentlemen have become synonymous with the Delfos Football Club. They have never once faltered even when times were tough. They have been, and still are an inspiration to our club and more than often we depend entirely on their experience and wisdom to carrv us forward. Words cannot express our gratitude toward them.