Sharuko on Saturday
AS kids, growing up in a world distinctly different from the one we live in today, Western movies were a huge part of our entertainment menu.
It’s like what the fantasy world of World Wrestling Entertainment is to our children today.
We didn’t have the Internet, we didn’t have Netflix, we didn’t have AppleTV, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and all the social media platforms, dominating today’s world.
Our hero was not like the typical superheroes of today.
The likes of Superman, Batman, Toxic Avenger, Go Mifune, Robocop, Drax The Destroyer, Hulk, Okoye, Blade.
Neither was he like the typical WWE superstars.
The likes of Roman Reigns, Bobby Lashley, Batista, John Cena, Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, Bret Hart.
Instead, our hero was an outcast, a gunslinger, a criminal, a serial killer, whose boyish looks camouflaged the evil buried within his soul.
He killed ordinary people, he killed law enforcement agents and he killed anyone who stood between him and missions.
The more that he killed, the more we appeared to love him and the more that his appeal exploded among us, in those days of our innocence.
The more that he defied authority, the more that he escaped from the law enforcing agents, who were always stalking him, the more that we loved him and celebrated his exploits.
His name was Henry McCarty.
Everyone knows him as Billy The Kid.
Maybe, in a strange way, he represented us because, at that stage of our young lives, rebellion was a huge part of our DNA.
We hated authority, and all the order which it brought.
We loved his free spirit.
It was precisely what we used to yearn for, challenging the boundaries and values of order.
We loved embracing the temptation of chaos and celebrating the stupidity of our fantasies.
Records show that Billy The Kid killed eight men, before justice finally caught up with him, and he was shot dead by the authorities of the American Wild West.
He was only 21.
Fate was cruel to him, at the age of 15, he was already an orphan, forced by life to take care of himself in a violent world where the choice for many was a tough one — kill or be killed.
He should have been hanged, after being captured and sentenced to death but, somehow, he found a way to escape, killing two deputy sheriffs, as he bolted from justice.
We loved him because, in our eyes, he was tough, he was rough, he appeared a fearless man made up of real stuff, we barely saw him laugh or even cough.
“In just four years of being an outlaw, the Kid established his name as one of the most infamous gunslingers of the Wild West, despite being no older than 21 when he died,” wrote Johnny Wikes.
“And, that’s without robbing trains, holding up banks or challenging everyone he met to a duel.
“There were far more brutal and terrorising outlaws, but there was something about him and his story that contemporary journalists latched on to, so he got more newspaper ink.
“Yet the enduring image of the Kid they created — an all-shooting, callous killer — is suited to cheap Western fiction.”
In death, his legend grew even bigger than what it was during his living years, which then explains the dozens of blockbuster movies, which have been made, about his life.
More than 50 movies have been made about him.
Even though he died about 140 years ago, Billy’s appeal continues to be very strong to this very day.
And, in 2011, this enduring star quality was confirmed at a public auction in Denver, Colorado, in the United States.
An authenticated photo of Billy The Kid, smaller in size than a credit card, was auctioned and the winning bid was billionaire businessman, William I. Koch.
He splashed US$2,3 million for it.
The grainy black-and-white image was taken at Fort Sumter, in New Mexico, in about 1881, the year Billy was killed.
In 2011, the photograph was worth a staggering US$2,3 million.
THE DAY BILLMANIA SWEPT MY KID ALONG
My son Kalusha hadn’t been talking about football for some time and, given he is such a passionate young man, I could understand why.
Manchester United, his club, have been so poor they now look like a clone of Kadoma United, which used to be also known as Yematomati, back in the days when this club pretended to play football.
The explosion of the Rooney/Ronaldo partnership, with all its destructive powers, came at a time when his romance with football was just starting.
And, given his old man was more than just a United fan but, in a way, a disciple of everything these Red Devils stood for, the temptation for him to follow suit was high.
When he turned five, in 2004, CAPS United dominated the local scene and that vintage Green Machine did not only seduce him but established a lifelong bond which exists to this day.
It hasn’t helped his romance with football that Makepekepe have also been struggling to touch the heights they scaled in 2004 and have become a club which, in just 45 minutes, can concede five goals at Sakubva.
That’s like a goal every nine minutes, a goal every 540 seconds, a goal every tenth of the time it takes to complete a football match.
And, if Manica Diamonds had kept scoring at that rate, after the break, they could have scored ten that afternoon.
The collective struggles of both the Green Machine, and his Red Devils, in the last couple of years, has certainly diluted his romance with football.
It hasn’t helped that the Warriors have been quite average, during the same period, just making up numbers at the AFCON finals, going there to be counted only for appearance, rather than their brilliance, and success stories.
That our best player, among the Warriors, remains someone who is 31, and made his debut for the national team 12 years ago, on March 3, 2010, hasn’t helped boost his love affair with football.
His argument, the other day, was that there is something wrong with a game, and a system, which fails, in a dozen years, to produce someone to match the standards, which Knowledge Musona has set for the Warriors.
But, the beauty of our game is that nothing ever stays the same.
And, three times this week, Kalusha talked to me about football matters, which was quite a surprise, given the disengagement from the game, which I had seen in him, in recent years.
He told me the dominant subject on Monday and Tuesday, in their arena of discussions with his friends, was about football, local football and a local footballer.
He told me, he believed, just like many of his friends, that they had found a new hero, someone they could identify with, because he was about their age.
His name, he told me, was Billy.
His surname, I knew, was Antonio.
And, it got me thinking that, at just 19, the guy who had captured the interest of my boy, and his friends, just like our star back in the years of our romance with western movies, was also a Kid.
He has a surname which has been associated with our football for some time now and, in a way, represents greatness in the game.
Chita Antonio is considered one of the greatest forwards to grace domestic football, a serial winner who won the league, Castle Cup, Chibuku Trophy and the Nyore Nyore Shield.
His nickname was the Black Mamba.
And, in 1973, his 24 goals not only won him the Golden Boot but also powered Metal Box, whose other stars included Sunday Chidzambwa, to league championship glory.
He even claims he should have been crowned the Soccer Star of the Year in 1973, which was handed to Dynamos legend, Ernest Kamba.
And, 23 years later, Chita’s son, Felix, also known as Kunyado, was part of the all-star CAPS United team, which became the first Green Machine side to win the championship, after Independence.
Sadly, Kunyado died at a young age, at the turn of the millennium.
His son, Tanaka Trinity Antonio, showed a lot of promise, as a young player before he shifted his focus elsewhere.
In November this year, God willing, he will have a front row seat watching the historic World Cup in Qatar, where he is now based.
I’m not sure whether Bill Antonio is related to the family of Chita Antonio, who still lives to this day, his son Felix, who died at a young age, and his grandson Tanaka, who now lives, and works, in the world’s richest country.
But, what I am sure about is that at 19, Bill Antonio has a bigger profile in local football than what the legendary Chita had, at the same age.
After all, in 1970, when Chita arrived at Dynamos, and failed to make an impression, he was already 22.
I’m not in any way suggesting Bill is better than Chita.
No sane person can judge a kid, just fresh out of high school, in his first season in the domestic Premiership, and compare him with a legend like the Black Mamba.
But what I can’t dismiss is that, in his short career, Bill is making a huge impact in terms of drawing spectator interest back to the domestic Premiership.
I should know because this week, something strange happened in the place I call home, thanks to the heroics of this teenage Dynamos forward.
There are some things which one cannot attach an explanation to.
Like, listening to my boy, as proper a CAPS United fan as they will ever come, telling me his new local football hero was a teenage Dynamos speed merchant and wing wizard.
To imagine this was my same boy, who even hired an artist to paint the phrase ‘Kepekepe Bhora,’ on the security wall protecting our house, was something which kissed the edges of both fantasy and insanity.
Something far away from the planet of reality.
But, this was not the World Wrestling Federation stuff, this was not about Western movies and Billy The Kid, this was real stuff.
It’s amazing what football, this simple game, with simple rules, can do, its enduring power to charm hearts and capture emotions, in a way that is unique, in a way which other sporting codes have failed to do.
My son, for all his Green Machine connections, found himself being swept away by this raging wave, which The Kid provoked, with his moment of magic against Rhinos on Sunday.
NO HIDING PLACE FOR THE KID ANYMORE
Predictably, the reception from the fans has been mixed even though there is no doubt that the majority of them have been blown away by what they saw, in that moment of genius, from The Kid.
It’s worth reminding newcomers that since Rhinos built a foundation, using some of the best players from Dynamos and CAPS United in the ‘80s, their meetings against DeMbare have usually carried an extra edge.
Chipembere even wooed Shepherd Murape, one of the greatest personalities in the history of DeMbare, into their corner.
It has always pained the Glamour Boys family that Rhinos became the first team to finally stop them from winning the league championship, in the era of Independence, when their bid for a fifth successive crown, failed in 1984.
Amazingly, between 1980 and 1987, only two teams — Dynamos and Rhinos — were good enough to win the championship, with the Glamour Boys winning SIX times and Chipembere winning TWICE.
While the intensity of the rivalry, in a way, has faded, largely because of Rhinos’ failure to match the standards they displayed in the ‘80s, it hasn’t disappeared.
Which means that, for a young player at Dynamos, who wants to make an immediate impression, doing very well against Rhinos isn’t a bad platform really.
It might not carry the same weight as doing well against CAPS United or Highlanders, who are the ultimate foes for the Glamour Boys, but it still is a good platform.
So, let’s go back to the events on Sunday.
A good 85 minutes had come and gone, in this league match, between the two old rivals, at the National Sports Stadium.
The scoreboard showed it was a stalemate, 1-1, both goals having come in the first half, and the good money was on a share of the spoils.
Bill Antonio appeared to have run into a cul-de-sac, when he chased a ball spread into space down the channel, the corner flag, and the goal line, a reminder he had very little to work with.
A Rhinos defender was ordered to block his path, from finding space down the goal line, which should have been enough to repel the threat, against an ordinary player.
Squeezed into that corner, Bill decided to do something which, if we are honest to ourselves, not even his coach, Tonderai Ndiraya, would have envisaged as possible.
Something which they don’t coach at their training sessions, the kind of stuff which only genius can provide, when nature takes over and everything just flows, without effort, without any complications.
By the time he was facing the ‘keeper, his quick feet and confidence had swept him past four defenders, driven him from the edges of the field to the heart of the Rhinos penalty area, without any helping hand, all on his own.
This was his Giggsey moment, during that FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal at Villa Park, when the Welshman from Sierra Leone, drove into the heart of the Gunners defence, and scored a vintage goal.
This was his Thierry moment, during that match against Liverpool in 2004, when the magical Frenchman from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe tore through the Reds defence, leaving both Didi Hamman and Jamie Carragher in his wake to score a wonder goal.
Ironically, today, April 9, 2022, marks the 18th anniversary of Thierry’s iconic moment.
What we saw on Sunday was magical and we can’t try to subdue ourselves from celebrating that iconic moment simply because we are concerned some people will say it was a fluke.
Of course, we need to be cautious because we have been here before and Evans Gwekwerere, for the same team, introduced himself as an Earthquake in 2006 but, like a shooting star, quickly faded away.
Denver Mukamba, a player Bill is likely to face today, also exploded, wearing the same colours, in 2011 but, just like the Earthquake before him, Mundikumbuke quickly faded away.
It’s a beautiful yet brutal game.
And, now, Bill Antonio will be closely watched, will carry the burden of expectations, will be expected to dribble past two, or three players, and score magical goals.
That’s not easy, may have failed to handle the pressure, even though, today, after the game, Bill can ask for a little bit of advice, of how to do it, from Benjani Mwaruwari.
My boy, and his friends, will be watching, expecting more magic, from their Billy The Kid.
Just like the way we used to wait, back in those days, for the latest movie about our western superhero, Billy The Kid.
To God Be The Glory!
Peace to the GEPA Chief, the Big Fish, George Norton, Daily Service, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and all the Chakariboys still in the struggle.
Come on United!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Text Feedback 0772545199
You can also interact with me on Twitter (@Chakariboy), Facebook, Instagram (sharukor) and Skype (sharuko58) and GamePlan, the authoritative football magazine show on ZTV, where I interact with the legendary Charles “CNN” Mabika, is back every Wednesday night at 9.30pm