The People's Club
The club became more than a body catering to its immediate members - it became a source of civic pride for the people of Orlando.
"Jimmy 'Hitler' Sobi was a member of the first-ever Pirates second side, formed by Andries 'PelePele' Mkhwanazi in 1940... He waited five years before he got his first-team chance. He recalls:
"'We were all from school in Orlando - I was from Dutch Reformed. Mkhwanazi was working night shift but on his way to work in the afternoon he would watch the schools play and choose [players] for the second division. We were all determined to be in the first team but we never got frustrated. Football was so nice - it was exciting. And we could watch [other teams] and not eat the whole day.'
"In time the club was to become more than an institution catering for its immediate circle of members; it was to become a symbol for Orlando, a source of 'civic pride' and a means through which ordinary residents and football followers alike could derive vicarious pleasure.
"What is significant about Pirates is that they - among the hundreds of clubs that sprouted in the rapidly industrialising Witwatersrand of the late Thirties and the Forties - were one of the few clubs to transcend [that notion] that the rapid proliferation of teams in every locality in late Victorian England was largely the achievement of well-intentioned middle-class reformers; rather:
"'It was the work of the members, of the people themselves. Playing team sports was a way in which men created and sustained close-knit groups in the context of unprecedented urban upheaval... to be part of a team was to have friends, to share a sense of loyalty and struggle together, and to represent your street or workshop, your patch of territory.'
"Therefore Pirates became an institution and a symbol, not just for a street or a patch of territory but for an entire community - and for thousands more.
"Orlando, the community (Sam 'Baboon Shepherd' Shabangu recalls) 'would try by all means to persuade you not to leave... You could even be threatened... If you leave don't play in Jo'burg - or the Transvaal - rather leave for Durban'. If a player broke away, he was viewed as a traitor. 'This was because of the deep symbolic value the club attained amongst the people of Orlando.'
"Pirates was unarguably the 'People's Club'."
- The People's Club: A History of Orlando Pirates, by Richard Maguire (editor of Kick Off magazine), published by the University of the Witwatersrand Press, 1991