Few professional football clubs in South Africa can genuinely claim to have roots as deeply set within their respective communities as Santos FC.
Santos FC was founded n 1982 in the township of Heideveld on the Cape Flats in Cape Town and is recognized as one of the longest standing professional clubs in the Western Cape. Born out of hardship but driven by loyalty the team is today known as "the people's team" due to the support we have shown to the people in local non-racial communities and through various community upliftment projects. We have gained our professional reputation through playing in the Federation professional League from 1982 - 1989, joining the National Soccer League, now known as the PSL, in 1996, signing our first major sponsorship deal in 2000 with Engen Petroleum, and represented Cape Town and South Africa in various Confederations of African Football competitions.
The nickname "The People's Team" reflects Santos' connection with its fan base, which comes mainly from the Cape Flats area. Santos is all about the people, they play for the people and are driven by the pure, unadulterated and uncomplicated love of the game. We look back with pride on our early years where we campaigned passionately and successfully under the support of the Heideveld-based Cape Flats FA who were affiliated to the non-racial Western Province Football Board.
The memorable Virginia league finals against arch rivals Glendene between 1979 - 1981 are still fondly remembered by those who were fortunate enough to pack the Athlone Stadium, the spiritual home of football in Cape Town, to witness the epic clashes between the two best amateur teams in Cape Town at the time.
It was this rivalry between Santos and Glendene that sustained interest among Cape Town fans in the non-racial Federation Professional League (FPL) when they effortlessly filled the void left by established and popular teams like Cape Town Spurs and Glenville, who left to play in the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) at the end of the 1981 season. Following the demise of Glendene in 1985, the rivalry continued with the emergence of Battswood in the FPL ranks.
Santos is proud of its honorable role in refusing to be co-opted into playing multi-racial football which was aimed at deceiving the international world into ending South Africa's international sporting isolation. Along with other sports clubs and bodies affiliated to the South African Council on Sport (Sacos), Santos, through its mother body the SA Soccer Federation, actively participated in the struggle to liberate our country from the internationally rejected apartheid system.
We believe that through the massive sacrifices both the club and players were prepared to make, when it may have been financially beneficial to forsake our non-racial principles, we played a small but significant role in liberating the country from the shackles of oppression to deliver the new democracy we are all currently experiencing.
It is due to those sacrifices and patiently persevering through the tough times, that Santos has been able to lay the solid foundation that has allowed the club to flourish both on the playing field and as a business.
Soon after joining the FPL in 1982, Santos dominated the league to the extent that the club was crowned league champions six times as well as winning four Cup competitions in nine years before the unity talks resulted in the formation of the new, unified National Soccer League (NSL) in 1991 which incorporated all South Africa's top professional teams.