Nearly twenty-five years ago, in March 1987, the National Soccer League announced the names of 17 clubs to form their first non-racial Second Division.
Some of the teams in that OK-sponsored League included Umtata Bush Bucks, Highlands Spurs, Motherwells (both Port Elizabeth), Cape Town Spurs, Pretoria City, Klerksdorp City, Computer Stars, Vaal Reef Stars, Royal Tigers and Mpumalanga United Brothers (both KZN).
By 1990 it had become too expensive to operate a single league so the following season there were two separate divisions, known as the ‘O’ and ‘K’ Streams - each comprising of 20 clubs.
After a tough 38-match programme, Ratanang Moholosiane and Cape Town Spurs won promotion into the top flight, while other sides, which did well around this era, were Battswood, PE Hotspurs, Royal Tigers, Vaal Professionals, Real Rovers, Boksburg United and Ravens.
It was not long before there were four streams, Northern, Southern, Eastern Cape/Natal and Western Cape as 76 clubs battled it out for a place in the PSL.
Santos and African Wanderers reached the elite level in 1996/97 after a play-off, while a season earlier, Pretoria City - the forerunner of SuperSport United - pipped Dynamos to the post.
However, it back to two streams for the 1997/98 season, with the United Bank putting their money into the First Division’s Inland and Coastal Streams which saw Dynamos and Seven Stars finally making it to the top.
Other clubs in the running were Witbank Aces, Tembisa Classic, Ria Stars, Warriors, Saxon Rovers and Lamontville Golden Arrows, who were crowned Coastal champions in 1999/2000.
Significantly, the 2004/05 campaign heralded in a new National First Division (NFD) known as the Mvela Golden League, which was an 18-team structure sponsored by the Mvelaphanda Group, won by Free State Stars won, followed by BidVest Wits in 2005/06.
It is important to mention that around this time the PSL increased their monthly grants from a mere R9 600 (Coastal) and R14 000 (Inland) to R30 000 for both streams - it is currently at R200 000!
The Mvela Platinum Play-offs that brought the second from bottom PSL club into the mix with the second, third and fourth-placed NFD outfits became very popular but for the past four seasons, the NFD has been without a sponsor.
Two streams of eight clubs each have ended up playing 21 games per season but from the 2011/12 campaign, it will be back to one national division.
Other clubs that have performed in the second tier include Silver Stars (now Platinum Stars), Rainbow Stars, Welkom Stars, Morning Stars, Witbank All Stars, Ledwaba Power Stars, Durban Stars, Phoenix City, Cape Town City, Durban United, Maritzburg United, Clermont Blizzards, Leeds United, Messina Kaizer XI, FC Fortune, Robertsham Callies, RP Mines, Spartak, Park United, Stanger United, Milano and Crystal Brains.
It is fascinating to note that there has also been space for some of the country’s oldest clubs with Wynberg St. Johns (1899), Pretoria’s Arcadia Shepherds (1903) Stellenbosch-based Newtons (1905), yo-yo specialists African Wanderers (1906) and the once-famous Durban Bush Bucks (1912).
Mvela Golden League
2007-08 - Maritzburg United
2006-07 - Free State Stars
2005-06 - Bidvest Wits
2004-05 - Free State Stars
2003-04 - Bloemfontein Celtic
2002-03 - Silver Stars
2001-02 - Dynamos
2000-01 - Black Leopards
1999-00 - Ria Stars
1998-99 - Dynamos
1997-98 - Real Rovers
2003-04 - Bush Bucks
2002-03 - AmaZulu
2001-02 - African Wanderers
2000-01 - AmaZulu
1999-00 - Golden Arrows
1998-99 - African Wanderers
1997-98 - Seven Stars