<>b>During the height of the rivalry between Township Rollers and Gaborone United from the 1960s to the early 2000s, the Mopipi tree where football and political aficionados still meet at the Main Mall to debate the latest news would be teeming with supporters of both sides discussing the match, days before the weekend.
Dubbed “Radio Mall” back then, this Main Mall tree was where the Gaborone Derby pre-match hype would start for the capital’s residents, and more often than not, the actual match would not disappoint.
This is the one match different generations of Township Rollers players always looked forward to.
The likes of Sola “Ace” Mokgadi, Ronan “Lefty” Ntseane, Moshoeshoe “Trigger” Molelekwa, Joseph “Big Joe” Chikoti, Moshe “Killer” Dipatane, Reuben Tswenetshwene, Tshepiso “Sox” Molwantwa and Thapelo “Pepe” Balepi fought countless battles against those representing the red half of town-Lele Sebele, Thomas “Zero” Johnson, Horatio “Chippa” Mahloane, Paymaster Dintwe, Wiseman Lesole, City Senne, Mandlenkosi Balanda, Chandy Moruti, Dipsy Selolwane and Joseph Phetogo amongst many.
Believed by some to possess lucky charms, team managers like Noel Liau or Baleseng Justice Baleseng of Rollers as well as Wellie “Pitla Pitla” Seboni and David “Oom Day” Mophuting of GU would walk across the stadium pitch before the match, as supporters cheered, feeling victory was certain for their club.
This Sunday, the Gaborone Derby enters another chapter. The Blues, now coached by Rodolfo Zapata, who once mentored the Reds, faces his former side. Adding to this sub plot is the presence of Ofentse Nato, Tumisang Orebonye, Thatayaone Ditlhokwe and Jackson Lesole- former GU players in the Rollers camp.
GU were dubbed “The Money Machine” because, while Rollers under Chibaso Kande and later Ezekiel Mpofu won one league title after the other in the glorious 1980s, the Reds became cup specialists dominating the knockout competitions.
Typically, the weekend’s match sees Popa in pole position on the log. But GU believe they can use their historic Money Machine tendencies to grab a quick cup win.
Both sides, sharing the record of two Mascom Top 8 titles each, will on Sunday- the first of a two legged semi final- try to reach this season’s final and have the chance to win the tournament for an outright record third time.
The past decade might have seen Rollers’ fixture against Mochudi Centre Chiefs gain great prominence.
But not a single domestic sporting contest in any sport code in Botswana can match the Gaborone Derby for its historic significance; and Sunday at the National Stadium will see another chapter written afresh.
Copyright 2019 The Official Township Rollers FC Website. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.rollersfc.com as the source
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