Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
WHEN Norman Mapeza and his FC Platinum troops arrived in Tunis this week for their Champions League battle which they lost 0-2 yesterday, they found a city choked by thousands of Esperance fans celebrating the club’s centenary anniversary.
The reigning African champions have been having a grand party, to mark 100 years of existence, despite their fans being barred from watching them play yesterday’s match as part of sanctions for their violent conduct in previous Champions League games.
The way the Tunisians have been celebrating their history, and achievements, is in sharp contrast to how local clubs appear to place little, or no value, to such grand occasions.
As if to suggest they are not connected in any way to the path they travelled to be where they are today, the challenges they faced, the moments of triumph, the battles they fought, the ones they won and those they lost.
For goodness sake, Dynamos turned 55 last year, but there was nothing from the Glamour Boys to mark the occasion, just as they did when their Golden Jubilee came along, six years ago.
Three years ago, Highlanders turned 90, but save for an off-shoot developmental side called Bosso ’90, there was nothing else to really celebrate reaching the grand old age.
CAPS United also turned 45 last year but, again, there was nothing to remind their fans — including those who have been with them from the very beginning — that they had reached this important milestone.
And, this year, the Green Machine will mark 40 years since they came of age, by winning their first domestic league championship in 1979 but — as has so often been the case with local football clubs — that milestone will pass largely unnoticed.
Last year also marked 20 years since that season when Dynamos almost transformed themselves into champions of Africa but no one at the Glamour Boys cared to remember or celebrate that feat.
Maybe the founding fathers, who have run this club into the ground, don’t want the fans to be reminded of how good these Glamour Boys used to be in the past.
Statistics will show that the Glamour Boys won 11 of the first 18 league championships after Independence, a remarkable 61.11 percent success rate when it came to the race that matters all, where their dominance was without question.
Sunday Chidzambwa was a key figure of that success story, winning seven of those 11 league titles as the head coach of these Glamour Boys, but his decision to quit in 1998 has seen DeMbare struggle to impose their authority on the domestic front.
The country’s biggest football club has won just five league championships, since Chidzambwa walked away, in 21 years for a failure rate of 23.8 percent.
Four of those league titles were won by one man, Callisto Pasuwa, who captured them on the trot, while David Mandigora ended a barren run of 10 years, without a title, for them in 2007.
Along the way, what used to be the country’s flagship football club, once ranked as high as number six on the continent, has been reduced into a punching bag and twice, in 2005 and last year, faced the grim possibility of being relegated.
And Mucherahowa believes Dynamos have always been like a lost flock of sheep without Chidzambwa.
“I had always believed that the only person who could take Dynamos FC to the top is Sunday Chidzambwa and his firing in 1991 had been wrong,’’ Mucherahowa wrote in his autobiography.
‘“In my view Sunday is the greatest coach to have emerged from Zimbabwe. He had many formations which mesmerised the opposition and also possessed an eye for talent.
“He is the one who turned me into an anchorman. Previously I used to play behind Max Makanza, the number nine. He made stars out of ordinary players.
“He had a passionate love for the club. Blue DeMbare blood flowed through his veins no doubt. He was the King who had been dethroned, forced to abdicate and hounded out of town and wrongly so.
“Since his ouster the team had not been doing well. In 1992, the team finished on position seven. In the 1993 season Dynamos finished on fifth position, having garnered 34 points, six adrift of eventual league champions Highlanders and we had no silverware.
“That was a total disaster by Dynamos standards and that is why I took it upon myself to fight for the return of Chidzambwa for the 1994 season. There began operation return of the king.
“It was in the middle of 1993 that I, along with Munemo, cemented our quest to bring back Chidzambwa to Dynamos. The team was losing games and I was getting disillusioned. The team needed a disciplinarian like Chidzambwa.’’
Mucherahowa said there were a lot of forces that didn’t want Chidzambwa back, but eventually, the players prevailed.
“Once Sunday Chidzambwa agreed to return to Dynamos FC as the team’s head coach during the 1993 off-season, I had no doubt in my mind that glory days were beckoning.’’
And he was proved right when DeMbare won the league titles in 1994, 1995 and 1997 and went all the way to the Champions League final in 1998.
Sadly, just like the team’s rich history, there appears to be a concerted effort to forget about the past when these Glamour Boys were really a major force.