Sharuko on Saturday
IT’S a pity Augustine Moyo, the greatest daredevil I have had the privilege to know and befriend, won’t be there when it finally happens.
A larger-than-life character, who lived on the edge and in the fast lane, with a love affair with fast cars and football, he was someone who loved life and chose to live it his way.
He never pretended to be someone he wasn’t, he was simply a jolly good fellow, content with what life had given him, and his love affair with Highlanders and Liverpool was a huge part of all that.
Sadly, on Monday, that life was cut short, in tragic fashion, when he was run over by a car, after having engaged in what appeared to be a dispute with the driver of that vehicle, and was killed at the age of 38.
And, in the week he died, they announced the English Premiership would resume on June 17 which means just one thing — Liverpool will finally complete their march to become champions once again.
To imagine Augustine had actually waited 30 years for this will bring a touch of disappointment he won’t be there when what has largely been fantasy, for three decades, finally turns into reality.
Had the COVID-19 pandemic not derailed the season, he would have already seen the new images of success, to erase the pain inflicted by failure, to find a way to even forget Steven Gerrard slipped at Anfield.
Or, that implosion at London’s Selhurst Park, where his team conspired to blow away a three-goal lead against Crystal Palace, to draw 3-3, reducing Luis Suarez into a trembling figure, drenched in his tears, paralysed by shock, overwhelmed by failure.
He was a greenhorn schoolboy when his team last won the league in 1990, a seven-year-old at the time and, his Reds were again in control, in defence of their title, in February 1991, sitting three points clear of the chasing pack.
Then, Kenny Daglish, sensationally quit on February 22, that year.
Without the man who had been a huge part of their soul, both as a player and a manager, the Reds lost their way and, in the next eight days, they lost three matches, including an FA Cup fifth round replay at Everton, under Ronnie Moran.
A team that had only lost two of the 24 league matches under Dalglish that season, collapsed badly after the Scotsman’s abrupt resignation as they lost six of their final 14, including two of their final five games, to finish second behind Arsenal.
It was the start of familiar depressing tales and, Manchester United, who had only won seven league titles when the Reds won their 18th championship in 1990, found a way to overhaul them to take their tally to 20, by the time Sir Alex Ferguson left.
Augustine saw the giant banners at Anfield, from the travelling United fans, reminding the Liverpool supporters times had changed — “In 1994, You Said Come Back When It’s 18, Well, Here We Are, Sat On Your Perch,’’ and “You Told Us To Come Back When We’ve Won 18, We’re Back.’’
His team led Manchester City by four points on Christmas Day two years ago, the fifth time since 1990 that they had been top on December 25 but, just like in 1991, 1997, 2009 and 2014, they still failed to turn that advantage into transforming themselves into champions.
Even when they lost only one game all campaign, as was the case last season, and powered their way a record points haul, they still could not be champions.
An extraordinary clearance by John Stones, where he stopped the ball from crossing the line by just 11-millimetres, was effectively the difference between them being champions, and finishing second to City, last year.
“From mind games and meltdowns to fumbled crosses and famous slips, there are multiple reasons, theories or excuses for why they fell short each time — including a manager exit, a manager illness, and at least one manager making some extremely ill-advised claims,’’ Chris Bevan wrote on the BBC Sport website in May last year.
But, that’s all about to change and, sadly, for Augustine Moyo, he won’t be there to see it happen.
THIS ONE IS DIFFERENT, AND VERY SPECIAL, IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE
I’m not a Liverpool fan and, even at the height of Bruce Grobbelaar’s Cinderella dance with the Reds in the ‘80s, the club didn’t appeal to me.
Of course, they were the best football club in the world, and they would even have won more European Cups, had English clubs not been banned for five years after the Heysel Stadium disaster.
Being a Manchester United fan during the ‘80s, if you were a Zimbabwean, was a bit odd, especially given the way Bruce’s presence at Liverpool was seducing many to support the Reds.
We appeared like rebels without a cause, unable to be lured into the family of these all-conquering Reds, even when one of us was a big part of the success story which was unfolding at Anfield.
United had last won the league title in 1968, before some of us were even born but, still, there was a powerful romantic attachment, between us and the Red Devils, which only the football gods can explain.
The more they failed, especially in their quest to be champions, the stronger our bond grew and the more we hated Liverpool and all the glory tales which were being written at Anfield.
You got to love football.
And, I guess, when you reach a certain age, and assume more responsibility, you tend to look at things, including football, in a different way as life starts to get more meaning and you begin to question things which, in the past, you would have taken for granted.
It even becomes normal, on the occasions your opponents beat your favourite team, for you to salute them because they played better and had the better players.
That’s why, even though I am a Manchester United fan, I have to say this is a Liverpool success story I certainly don’t mind seeing being written.
It’s not just because the Reds thoroughly deserve their triumph, and the title of being the best champions in the era of the Premiership, given the way they have blown away the opposition this season, but simply because this is different and very, very special.
To me, this is something bigger than a beautiful football story.
This is about some powerful forces, which we can’t see or hear, which we can’t touch or talk to, spreading a message of love, hope and forgiveness, through the medium of the beautiful game.
Reminding us, as mere humans, that the more life takes away from us, the more it also has a way of giving us back.
Can anyone out there tell me why it has to be like this?
That, in the year which marks the 80th anniversary of the day German bombers first attacked Liverpool, on August 28, 1940, during World War II, a German manager has to be the one who brings so much love to this city, by ending the Reds’ lengthy wait for the league championship?
Where the German bombers inflicted so much death and destruction, in a brutal bombardment that eventually killed thousands of people, a German football manager now stand on the threshold of providing this city with the pride, and joy, that comes with being league champions.
There was a reason Liverpool was targeted by the Nazi bombers — the city’s docks handled over 90% of all war material which was entering Britain and the Germans had to try and cut that supply line.
It’s called the Liverpool Blitz and the heavy, and sustained bombing meant that, at the end of the Great War, no British city, save for London, bore such graphic scars, and suffered such horrifying numbers of deaths from the German bombardment, like this Merseyside metropolis.
Now, exactly 80 years since the first bomb dropped, a brilliant tactician, the first German to be given the honour of managing Liverpool, stands on the threshold of being the one who, after 30 years of a barren search, delivered the ultimate prize.
The same coach who had to be evacuated from a Borussia Dortmund media conference, in February 2015, after an unexploded World War II bomb was found nearby, as if to provide a reminder, if ever we needed one, how the Great War keeps casting its spell over us.
Somehow, among all the Germans in the world, life had to provide Liverpool with the good guy, the one who doesn’t believe in politics, the one who told us last May he would never be a politician “because I have too much common sense.’’
Now, he is about to deliver the league championship and it’s a pity Augustine won’t be there to see it.
SADIO MANE, THE DARKNESS OF SLAVERY, THE LIGHTNESS OF FOOTBALL
In a few weeks’ time, the first group of black African footballers, to have helped this club win the league championship, will celebrate this grand success story at Liverpool.
They are Sadio Mane, Naby Keita, Joel Matip and Divock Origi (a Kenyan who now plays for Belgium) while Mohamed Salah, although he is African, is an Egyptian of Arab origin.
Liverpool have had an African footballer winning the league championship before, Bruce Grobbelaar, who won six titles in the ‘80s, but he is a white man.
John Barnes, the Everton fans used to racially abuse, including calling Liverpool, “N********l,’’ is a black man who won two league titles with the Reds but he is of Jamaican decent and played for England.
This year will mark the first time a black African footballer, Mane, who is also the finest on the continent after he won the CAF Player of the Year award in January, has helped Liverpool win the league championship.
It’s been a long and bumpy road for black players at the Reds since Howard Gayle blazed the trail, and became the first black footballer to join this team in 1977, where he complained about being racially abused by then captain, Tommy Smith.
That Mane had to play the leading role this season, in ending the lengthy wait, is also something special.
And, only a force, too powerful for us to understand, could have written such a script.
Somehow, fate scripted that a footballer from Senegal, where you find the House of Slaves, about three kms off the coast of Dakar, a symbol of the final exit point of the millions of Africans who were captured and sold, not as people, but as objects, should play such a huge role in helping Liverpool win back the league.
It’s important because, at some point during the Slave Trade — which saw millions of Africans being captured, enslaved and transported across the Atlantic Ocean — Liverpool became the Slave Capital of Europe.
Records show that during the 18th century more than 5000 slave ships departed from Liverpool and, by 1800, three quarters of all English ships involved in the slave trade were fitted out in the port.
Liverpool became the largest slave trade port in the Atlantic world in 1780 and this horrific trade played a big role in building this city as an economic power.
Some of the city’s major streets — St Thomas Street (Sir Thomas Johnson), Gladstone Road (Sir John Gladstone), Parr Street (Thomas Parr), Earle Street (John Earle) Penny Lane (James Penny) and Bold Street (James Bold) — were named after businessmen who made their wealth in slave trade.
It’s a history of a great human tragedy which evokes memories of the brutalization, which millions of Africans suffered at the hands of this city’s elite, including 25 men who became mayors, during a dark period when selling a human being brought so much money.
That madness, for this city, ended in 1820 and, as fate might have it, exactly 200 years later, in 2020, a football superstar from the West African country that became a big part of that inhumane trade, Sadio Mane, is about to show this town the other, and more beautiful, side of a black man.
You can’t write such a script.
And, it’s a pity Augustine Moyo, the ultimate daredevil I have had the privilege to know, and befriend, will not be there to see all this come to a beautiful conclusion.
To God Be The Glory!
Peace to the GEPA Chief, the Big Fish, George Norton and all the Chakariboys in the struggle.
Come on United!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bruno, Bruno, Bruno, Bruno, Bruno, Bruno!
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