WINNER: Daine Klate

Although they lost the final game to Kaizer Chiefs, there was no mistaking that it was the Clever Boys’ graduation party as coach Gavin Hunt finally brought the trophy to the Braamfontein club.

Last week I looked at some of the key games in their run to the title, but today I want to point out some of the players and performances that took them to the top.

Starting with the most decorated footballer in South African domestic history Daine Klate.

Trending on Twitter and the toast of every footballer and fan alike, Klate has celebrated this league as if it is his first.

It is in fact a record sixth title for the PE-born midfielder and a 14th domestic trophy in total.

But Hunt had a massive squad – one of the best in the league – to work with and the way he managed them was crucial on their run to the title.

That’s especially true when injuries kicked in.

Let’s start with the new boys.

Gabadinho Mhango had a drawn-out transfer to Wits, but he made a difference in the team with his runs causing defenders problems up and down the country, as he eventually finished top scorer for the Students.

The central defensive pairing of captain Thulani Hlatshwayo and Buhle Mkhwanazi, I’ve said many times this season, was for me the best in the league.

It’s a pity Mkhwanazi was one of the injury casualties towards the end.

But others stepped in and plugged the gap perfectly, especially former Bafana Bafana skipper Bongani Khumalo.

Wits had so many injuries this season to key players, but somehow Gavin always had back-up. Striker James Keene was out for many months. Phakamani Mahlambi too. But both returned and played key roles later on.

In goal, Darren Keet has to be one of the signings of the season.

Hunt was blessed in the goalkeeping department already with the experienced Moeneeb Josephs, but Keet came in at a crucial time and showed his class.

Only 16 goals conceded and nine clean sheets in 20 games, now that’s impressive.

And then the two on-loan Mamelodi Sundowns players Mogakolodi Ngele and Cuthbert Malajila also had a big impact during the campaign at various points.

I don’t think any of us will forget those belters Ngele scored against Golden Arrows.

Hunt showed the Brazilians how to get the best out of these two and it’s no wonder they want them back now.

I could go on and on about the key men, I haven’t even touched on Granwald Scott and his impact or that of Nazeer Allie and Eleazar Rodgers, all three Cape Town boys.

There’s also the young Reeve Frosler who’s already made a name for himself, Phumlani Ntshangase, Sifiso Myeni. The list goes on and on.

The bottom line is Hunt had a squad brimming with quality, a perfect blend of youth and experience and he turned them into champions.