From "The Dark Night" of October 14 at Govind Park to "The White Night" of the Suva Civic Centre.
From a "Night of Shame" in Ba to a "Night of Fame" in Suva.
The long 28-year wait was finally over and it was time for the players, officials, their families and invited guests to bask in glory after a fun-filled day with ardent Whites fans.
Victorious Suva skipper Simione Maikali, who is related to Suva's 1983 IDC winning squad member Manoa Keith, could hardly find words to describe what it meant to him to be holding aloft the Lloyd Farebrother Trophy after so long. He was that emotional. This victory, though controversial, will forever remain etched in the hearts and minds of all Suva football fans.
So it showed when Maikali, with tears welling in his eyes and lips quivering, revealed in cracking voice that in years to come he'd be able to "proudly" tell his children that he was skipper of the side that brought IDC glory back to the capital after 28 years.
Maikali was only six months old when Suva won the coveted trophy at the National Stadium with a 1-0 extra-time victory over Ba in 1983.
The assist for Aisea Mocelutu's winning goal that day came from a foreigner (Solomon Islander Robert Mark) and the assist 28 years on also came from a foreigner (Nigerian Saani Issa).
I asked USP student and Solomon Islander Ralph Sherwin if he knew Robert Mark and the answer was 'no'. How would poor Sherwin know for he wasn't even born when Mark, who was also a student at USP, was strutting his stuff for the Whites.
Coach Gurjit Singh pointed out a very important thing — teamwork. He saluted everyone from the team cook and the other behind-the-scenes hard workers.
"It is not only me, the coach, or the players. We all did it as a team," Singh quipped. As coach, Singh has won the IDC with Nadi ('98,99), Navua (2009), Labasa (2011) and now Suva. He also won the B Division crown with Tailevu Naitasiri some years ago. However, personally, I do not see Singh as a coaching genius for I have yet to see him prove himself with a team of unknowns. For all the teams that he won tournaments with were mostly laced with experienced and top players, most being Fiji reps. Nadi had stars like Alipate Driu, Watisoni Voli, Kini Tubi, Ramendra Dutt, Emosi Baleinuku and others.
Navua, during Anil Sharma's reign as president, had Simione Tamanisau, Benamino Matainaqara, Alvin Avinesh, Pene Erenio, Salesh Kumar, an American and others. Labasa had all top local players, mainly Fiji reps, like Maciu Dunadamu, Pita Bolaitoga, and New Zealand-based Roy Krishna. But, that said, Singh right now is the best coach in Fiji and fully deserves a chance to coach the Fiji team. Forget about his failure at the Pacific Games last year for he was brought in at the eleventh hour. The team selection was done by someone else. Singh deserves a second chance. I admire his tactical nous, like the way he used Kautoga in midfield with Nathan Shivan and then pulled off the latter to send in Cedrick Dutt as an impact player in almost all the games. Tactically he is very sound and not scared to try his players in different positions.
The All Freight Logistics-sponsored Bureta FC turned heads at the party. They turned up dressed up in new club T-shirts with 'IDC champions Suva' emblazoned at the back.
"This has been a long wait and it means a lot to us," said club president Sunil Karan. Their club player, Waisake Navunigasau, was the star of the show having scored the winner against Ba.
He had been partying so hard that one of his mates put a razor on his right eyebrow and took half of it away while he was snoozing! Originally from Lau, Navunigasau, is a very humble bloke and will go a long way in the sport. It was nice to see Ronish Dave, the former Fiji FA whistleman, and son of another top referee Bobby Dave. It was also good to see Kautoga keeping a distance from alcohol. He is being looked after very well by his wife Charry and family. Former Suva ace Meli Debalevu Jr was also at the bash. Surprisingly, party animals, Dutt and Joseph Mishra, had a relatively quiet night. Joshua Wilson, the family man, showed at this IDC that he is the best left back in the country.
Many people had their doubts about Ra man Mahen Prasad when he took over as president four years ago and he proved his point by binging home the Lloyd Farebrother Trophy.
He deserves another four years at the helm. To all 22 Suva players: Your names will go down in the history books of Fiji FA. This was a special victory, celebrated in special style and it was only fitting that a diehard Suva media colleague of mine was the master of ceremony.
Thumbs up to Indra Singh and the FBC. The all Suva goals videos was wonderfully presented.
Finally, a salute to one player who only played for Suva all throughout his career — Inosi Cava. I hear that he will quit on a high and join the coaching panel with Singh. No one deserves to cherish this win more than Cava.