I should celebrate – but I’m deeply sad – TingyembThomas Kwenaite
One of Bloemfontein Celtic’s longest serving players has expressed his disappointment and a deep sense of sadness at the demise of the tradition steeped club that ceased to exist this week when its franchise was sold to Durban socialite and business woman Shauwn Mkhize.
Armour Patrick Tingyemb, who played over 286 matches for the green and white over a period of eleven years, said from his home in Douala that he should be happy that this has happened after how he was treated by a team he had served loyally for more than a decade, but in truth he was deeply sad.
“I’m very sad because I’ve spent my entire career there,” said Tingyemb about a team he joined shortly after a fantastic performance for the Cameroon U-23 team at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
He was to stay at Celtic for 11 years and only left following a pay dispute during 2019, a dispute that eventually ended up at the Court of Arbitration for Sport where Celtic were found guilty of breach of contract and ordered to pay him R3-m as compensation.
“I did not just spend my whole life there, I also made a lot of sacrifices, just like thousands of supporters also who also sacrificed for that team. Many (supporters) died for Siwelele. Some experienced marital problems because of the team.
“Others did not have food to eat at their respective homes because they wanted to save the little money they had just to purchase a match ticket. It was their form of expressing their support for the team.”
Tingyemb revealed that he feels sorry for the Petros Molemela family, whose father formed the team and gave the people of Mangaung something to be proud of but were let down by unfulfilled promises made to the old man before he passed on.
But such has been the economic times and the Covid-19 pandemic that many business outlets are struggling to stay afloat. And Celtic’s financial woes have been well documented over the years and owner Max Tshabalala finally caved in and accepted an offer as he could no longer afford to run the team.
“Gentlemen, I’m not going to be long. I will be straight forward and frank with you,” Max Tshabalala is alleged to have said by Kickoff website in a leaked audio they obtained about the former club owner addressing the Celtic players.
“You’ve seen what the media has been saying… and it’s true, the club has been sold. You know that we had (financial) problems and I could also foresee that this (financial challenges) would continue this season as well.
“So the team is sold guys. We can’t do otherwise as it’s been four years that I have been running the team out of my pockets. You know the challenges, and it hasn’t been made easier for me.”
Tingyemb, who confessed that although he read reports that he had been paid the money owed to him by Celtic, the transaction has however not yet reflected in his bank account.
“I’ve suffered untold pain for this club. But I did not mind. There was a time when as players we encountered problems with the club and as captain, I was mandated by the players to go and express our grievances to management,” said Tingyemb.
“There are a group of people that used to socialize with Mr Tshabalala. At the time when I expressed the grievances of the players to management, these guys would insult me and called me “kwere-kwere” (derogatory term for a foreign person).
“But today the very same people are now crying. They disrespected the Celtic brand, the supporters, the culture of Siwelele, the players and football. They totally disrespected the PSL, SAFA and the South African public in general, not to mention the late Ntate Molemela!
“I should be celebrating, but I’m deeply saddened by what has befallen such a popular, tradition steeped club that was nothing but a way of life for ordinary folks of Bloemfontein.”
Celtic start life under the new management with a fixture against Swallows FC at the Dobsonville Stadium on Sunday still under the guidance of John Maduka who has been retained by Mkhize.