Johannesburg - Until age becomes their worst enemy, the golden oldies will remain the guys to go to when the going gets tough, as it does in the Premier Soccer League.
Most clubs have one, and every side needs one! Where would these clubs be without them? They definitely would not have achieved what they have over the past few years.
To them, age ain’t nothing but a number because they keep on dishing out five-star performances – game after game.
You discard them at your peril because they have proved to be the mainstay of many sides.
The Premiership veterans have moved closer to centre stage after some outstanding showings from the top flight’s over-30s last season. In fact, judging by their tireless contributions in the past few seasons, they have matured with age.
They might not be as mobile as the younger set, but they have the experience, vision, leadership qualities, influence and football brains.
SuperSport United have Reneilwe Letsholonyane (35), Kaizer Chiefs’ hopes are pinned on Siphiwe Tshabalala (32), while Polokwane City’s Jabulani Maluleke (35) has been the key cog in the wheel and Free State Stars would not be where they are if it were not for Paulus Masehe (33).
Shu-Aib Walters (35) was in the thick of things for Cape Town City and the same goes for Moeneeb Josephs (37), who played a sterling role in helping Bidvest Wits clinch their maiden league title.
Maritzburg United could look to Bevan Fransman (33) for inspiration and guidance, while whoever gets Solomon Mathe (37) will have a gem of a veteran from Platinum Stars.
These are but some of the men who have graced our small screens for a while now, and they have not slowed down – despite being on the “wrong side” of 30.
The signing of another icon, Teko Modise (34), by Cape Town City once again proves the importance of having experience in the team.
Modise has it all and will be a great addition to the City family. With City off to participate in the CAF Confederation Cup next year by virtue of having finished third on the log table, Modise’s experience will be vital in the Citizen’s quest to conquer the continent. He will also guide the youngsters and can play a crucial role in Benni McCarthy’s team. McCarthy needs to turn to Modise for inspiration as a player who has been there, done that and achieved all.
The midfielder still has a lot left in him, despite seeing little action at Mamelodi Sundowns last season. Modise might be declining, but he still is a cult hero for many supporters.
Tshabalala is still an important part of the Chiefs set up. It is no fluke that he was Amakhosi’s best player last season – he walked away with four awards (player of the season, fans’ player of the season, top goal scorer and goal of the year) at the club’s end-of-season.
Chiefs will next season still look up to the winger to hopefully deliver both good play and a trophy.
Many Chiefs supporters are still angry at the club for letting go of Letsholonyane, who has gone on to do well at United.
Deemed to be over the hill by those who let him go, “Yeye” was arguably United’s best player as he produced man-of-the-match performances in every game he played. He helped United reach the Telkom Knockout final and also lift the Nedbank Cup, while his former club ended the season empty-handed.
Letsholonyane is every coach’s dream player thanks to his ability to dictate the game and because of his superb passes.
Josephs performed admirably between the poles for Bidvest despite being 37 years old.
Without Masehe, Free State Stars might have been relegated. In fact, they would have finished much higher had it not been for his injuries, which led to him missing 10 of the Stars’ games.
Polokwane City have the nippy Maluleke to thank for finishing sixth on the table – their best finish in the league since their promotion four seasons ago.
It was obvious that they were struggling when the veteran midfielder was absent. Maluleke left a big void in the middle of the park and Polokwane City will definitely miss his services when he finally hangs up his boots.
Then there is Fransman, who led Maritzburg’s attack from the back. He came to the party when they needed him most. The lanky defender was instrumental in the Team of Choice’s top-eight finish.
Now, the big question is: what will happen to their clubs when the oldies finally bow out of the game?
For now, they are still the go-to players when the going gets tough in soccer.