The Derby Is Dead, Long Live The Derby!
Sharuko On Saturday
THE Derby Is Dead, Long Live The Derby!
The memories are mind blowing, EIGHT goals one day in 1984 in a Chibuku Cup semi-final – three for the Chunga brothers, two for Max Makanza one for Edward Katsvere.
They used to call him Twinkletoes.
That was back in an era when TOES were associated with football excellence, long before we began to link them with the bizarre underworld where someone could sell them for a return for some phantom riches.
He is late now, one of a number of our game’s stars, who now lie at various cemeteries dotted around the country.
Three years ago, we said goodbye to one of Twinkletoes’ finest teammates, Hamid Dhana.
The fans used to call him Muzukuru, their adopted grandson, their beautiful inheritance.
He was a ball playing midfield star whose striking good looks used to brighten the dressing room and whose love for life was simply intoxicating.
He is late now, just like the Derby itself, just like the interest in the flagship showdown, just like the life in the stands, which used to provide a fitting soundtrack to this epic contest.
We went to give him a befitting farewell at Danny Bismarck Stadium, his body lying motionless in the casket, a reminder of a past in which we used to find comfort in the exploits of our football stars.
It’s never easy to say goodbye.
And, so, we held on to the great memories, our tortured minds drifted back to the days when his heart pounded with life, and his artistry seduced our fantasies and fulfilled our dreams.
In terms of ball playing midfielders, it’s unlikely many have come, or will come, when it comes to domestic football, as good as Stanford “Stix” M’tizwa.
He scored a brace, in that 2-6 defeat in 1984.
For a man, whose head was being turned by the charm of newboys Black Rhinos, his two-goal return was such a remarkable feat, and a credit to his amazing character.
Stix was a natural talent, so good the opposition would demand to field an extra player, to help them try and subdue his brilliance, in the street football battles.
Some even consider him the most naturally-gifted midfielder to roam our football fields and it’s hard to dismiss them as a gang of wishful thinkers.
Even those who still watch him today, on the occasion he plays for his social football club, testify that he is still different and there is something about him that is special.
Given his roots are in Mbare, where he grew up with the legendary Charles “CNN” Mabika for company, there are others who have dismissed him as a Rebel Without A Cause.
After all, the expectation was that he should have starred for the club, which this great neighborhood calls its own, their gift from the football gods.
It doesn’t help that he even had a flirtation with them, in the junior ranks, but that’s just as far as the romance went, as he eventually chose a fling with their biggest city rivals.
At least, Stix lives to this day, a living reminder of the greatness, which used to be part of the story of the Harare Derby, part of the package of this battle, back in the days when it was the real deal.
It would take three years for CAPS United to finally provide some form of compensation to their fans, for the six-goal hammering they received, at the hands of the ultimate rival in 1984.
By the time they hit back, with a seven-goal demolition of the Glamour Boys, Stix had left the Green Machine, after losing his personal battle to resist the lure from Chipembere.
Another midfielder from Mbare, Anthony Kambani, scored in that 7-0 thrashing of DeMbare.
They used to call him Bryan Robson!
He was an underrated midfield star, cast into the shadows by the presence of a superstar like Joel Shambo, but no one, of a CAPS United persuasion, will ever forget him.
You can’t be forgotten when your name appears in gold letters among the scorers, in probably the finest demolition job in Makepekepe history, when Dynamos were handed a proper hiding.
That was in 1987, in the semi-final of the Africa Day Trophy, when Mr Goals, Shacky Tauro, scored four, Never Chiku, Gift M’pariwa and Kambani, added a goal apiece.
FOR GHETTO, JOE MATSIGA, FOR SHACKY, CHINYARIDE
All the four players, who scored for the Green Machine that day, have passed on.
Kambani was the last to die, among the four, with the midfield star dying in a Harare hospital, after a short illness, in January last year.
It means none of the Fab Four, the stars who scored those seven goals, are still around to celebrate the 35th anniversary of that day, when they helped the Green Machine touch the heavens.
Gift M’pariwa Is Dead, Long Live Ghetto!
He led the line of attack for both teams and, for someone who was dismissed as a one-dimensional forward, in the early part of his career, this was an achievement which proved he had genuine substance.
He was a stone-cold assassin, what mattered to him was putting the ball into the back of the net, something in which he became a specialist, both in the air and on the ground.
To him, the football field was an office, no fancy stuff, it was all about delivery, and not style, and he knew that, at the end of the day, goals mattered more than anything else.
And, boy oh boy, he would deliver them, all kinds of goals, transforming himself into a genuine threat, a terror to the defenders, an asset to his team and, like an oasis, a symbol of hope.
The game remembers him more as a Dynamos legend, which is correct, because that’s where he was at his irresistible, and destructive, best.
But, one day in 1987, he helped Makepekepe force DeMbare to pay back for the sins of the demolition of ’84, by scoring one of the goals, in that seven-goal Green Machine romp.
Zex Manatsa Is Dead, Long Live Tea Hobvu!
Zex sang for both DeMbare and Makepekepe, as a tribute to the iconic status of the capital’s two giants, an honour he also extended to Highlanders and Zimbabwe Saints.
Ironically, one of Zex’s finest hours came in 1979, when his wedding attracted a full-house at Rufaro, in a testimony of his star quality, even though fans had to pay to watch it.
It was also the same year that CAPS United first came of age when, just six years after their establishment, the Green Machine won their first league championship.
Shacky, the greatest goal-scorer domestic football has ever seen, also enjoyed his finest moment that year, when he won the Soccer Star of the Year.
Shacky Is Dead, Long Live Mr Goals!
Even King David Is Dead, Long Live Bla Yogi!
The first Warrior to score in a final, against Zambia in 1980, the first man to be crowned Soccer Star of the Year, after Independence.
Even Shepherd Bwanya Is Dead, Long Live Chairman Sherpie!
The trailblazing leader, the boy from Mbare who became a hero, in ’96, when he finally cracked the code to help Makepekepe become champions, for the first time, after Independence.
Even Steve Kwashi Is Dead, Long Live The Dude!
The inspirational leader, the dressing room genius, a Dynamos old boy who crossed the floor to provide the Midas Touch and take Makepekepe to the Promised Land, in ’96.
Some are now saying even CAPS United is dead.
But, Long Live Makepekepe — the Cup Kings, the Green Machine, the Manchester Road Boys, Shaisa Mufaro, for many, the eco-friendly football club of their dreams.
True cowboys never die.
EVEN JOE IS DEAD, LONG LIVE KODE!
Even Joe Is Dead, Long Live Kode!
The Prince of Mabvuku, for years, the heartbeat of the Green Machine, the symbol of their resistance, the catalyst for their success, the face of their club.
How can anyone forget the Kode From Mabvuku? You didn’t need to be a CAPS United fan to appreciate his talent, you didn’t need to be a Dynamos fan to fear his destructive capacity, especially in the big games and on the big occasion.
“I grew up supporting Dynamos and naturally ‘hated’ Joe for the way he always destroyed us,” journalist Stanley Kwenda, who produces material for the BBC, told this newspaper.
“He had a small stature but full of confidence. One thing that came tops was his leadership qualities as he was always talking to his players.
“When I came to the United Kingdom, I met a different Joe as he was a very quiet character. He was a good man, a family man as he always came to functions with his family.”
Great men like Joe don’t die, they simply take a rest.
He still watches over us, in spirit, because he will always be a part of us, a part of our football, a part of the Harare Derby.
He was part of the cast of players in that classic in 1994, at Rufaro, in yet another Africa Day Cup showdown which delivered just about everything.
By 1pm, Rufaro was full to capacity and we found ourselves trapped outside the old ground, in the tight spaces outside the VVIP entrance, on a hot afternoon in the capital.
Morrison Sifelani, then the Dynamos and PSL chairman, also found himself among us, locked out of a show in which he was the leader of the organising team.
I still remember it all, when a shower started coming down on us and the good old man, in a tone pregnant with both innocence and relief, told me that even God had blessed the occasion, by bringing in some light rain.
Of course, what he didn’t know was that this wasn’t light rain, this was urine, raining down on us, from those who used the upper tiers of the Western Stand, to relieve themselves.
Eventually, we sneaked our way through and it was worth the struggle.
Era Muna, Mpumelelo Dzowa, fired CAPS United ahead in the 25th minute and Kode From Mabvuku doubled the lead in the 38th minute for a 2-0 first half lead.
Given the first leg had ended 1-1, this meant Makepekepe now commanded a 3-1 aggregate lead, with just 45 minutes to play.
What followed, in those remaining 45 minutes, was magical, for those of a Dynamos persuasion, as their side scored FOUR times, to win the game 4-2, and 5-3 on aggregate.
The Digital, Vitalis Takawira, The Flying Doctor, Tauya Murewa, were the main destroyers, Simon Chuma played arguably the best game of his fine career.
Francis Shonhayi (penalty), Murewa powered home the equaliser and it was 2-2, 3-3 on aggregate but with CAPS winning on the away goals rule, by the time the clock struck the 90th minute mark.
Not for those Glamour Boys who, three minutes into time added on, Chuma again teased his marker on the right and his cross was headed home by Hope Chihota.
Amid the will celebrations, Takawira made it four, after Brenna Msiska spilled Murewa’s effort, and one of the greatest comebacks, in the duels between the two giants, had been completed.
Six years ago, CAPS United won the league championship.
And, if there is a game, and a point, which illustrated their character, and underlined why they deserved their success, then it was the Harare Derby, in October that year.
With five minutes left to play, in regulation time, CAPS United were down 0-3, after goals by Rodreck Mutuma, Masimba Dinyero and Tawanda Macheke.
A 19-game unbeaten run in their National Sports Stadium fortress, dating back to July the previous year, in which they had won 12 games and drawn seven, scoring 33 goals and conceding just 12, en-route to an impressive 75.44 percent success rate, was now on the line.
But, Dennis Dauda reduced the arrears, with a header, it appeared just a consolation but when Amon Kambanje further reduced the deficit, in that chaotic ending to the contest, there was genuine hope.
Incredibly, Dauda then headed home the equaliser, amid bedlam at the giant stadium, as the Green Machine fought back to get a point, in a six-goal thriller, which proved priceless, in their success in the title race.
Dauda will not play in the Derby tomorrow.
He was pushed out of the Green Machine recently after the in-house troubles which rocked their camp but it’s likely he will be following the drama.
It’s the first Harare Derby, in terms of league confrontations, after the death of Joe whose remains, thanks to a family which decided he would rest at home, are buried here.
Admittedly, it’s different from what the likes of Joe used to give us, every time they walked into this grand battle, to fight for the cause of their club, the cause of their badge and the cause of their fans.
That was real football and, now and again, the Derby would deliver a package consistent with the great expectations and the grand occasion.
Things have changed now but, as Dauda, Kambanje, Mutuma, Mambare and Macheke showed, just six years ago, there is always a chance the Derby could deliver something special.
We owe it to the likes of Joe, and everything that he did to transform the Derby into such a box-office attraction, that the first league match, after his death, produces fireworks.
We owe it to Ghetto, aka Joe Matsiga, to Shackman, aka Chinyaride, Bere, Mr Goals, mazita kuita kupfekerana, and many others too numerous to mention, to deliver a product consistent with the high standards they set for us.
I will be at the Derby tomorrow, if not for the quality of the football which the Class of 2022 will provide, then for the memories, which this battle always brings back.
The Derby Is Dead, Long Live The Derby!
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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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