This is for Big John Rugg

Sharuko On Saturday

I AM from Mashonaland West!

We call it Mash Best, when we are at our bragging best, the home of the biggest artificial lake in the world.

It is home — the province where I was born, where I grew up and where I did all my primary and secondary schooling.

That’s where I intend to be laid to rest, when God finally calls time on my time in this garden of the living, to rest in eternal peace among my people, among my relatives who went before me.

It’s a province pregnant with natural riches, some of the best farming soils in the country and, of course, extensive gold belts which stretch for hundreds of kilometres in its belly.

It’s the home of Philip Chiyangwa, the guy who, somehow, found a way to transform himself from a vendor in Chegutu to one of the country’s richest fellows. He now boasts of a mansion which, without adding anything, can accommodate a crèche, a primary and secondary school in one place.

II’s now the adopted home of Takesure Chiragwi, the man who could make history as the first former son of CAPS United to coach another team, which is not the Green Machine, to league championship glory. They call him Deco and, for the record, he will become only the second CAPS United son, after Lloyd Chitembwe, to lead a club to the league championship in this country.

That could happen today if his Ngezi Platinum Stars win their game against Simba Bhora in their backyard this afternoon.

Mash Best was the home of David Mwanza, who rose from our compounds in Chakari to become a key member of the Warriors. They called him Chikwama, because of his trademark beard, and he was a fine human specimen and a tireless box-to-box midfielder who played the game with both authority and style.

He is our role model and, without a doubt, the greatest Chakariboy of all-time.

He was only 40 when he died, in October 2002, after losing his battle with pneumonia and, for good measure, was laid to rest in our province.

His final resting place is at Martin Spur, a cotton hub just outside Kadoma, which is the home of the Division One side with the best name in local football — Come Again.

If this was his choice, for a final burial place, then it was appropriate.

Not far from his hometown of Chakari, very, very close to Cam and Motor, where he first made a name for himself in football, as a star at Rio Tinto, in the early ‘80s.

He was one of the stars of the great side which legendary coach, John Rugg, created during that time, one whose password for membership was as much about talent as it was about having an imposing physical frame.

And, no one typified that as much as Victor Mapanda, one of the best forwards of his time, and defender Abraham Mwanza, who was so big they nicknamed him Chimamuna (Zimurume).

Of course, there were some exceptions. One of them was the midfield genius, Joseph Zulu, the man the elders of our community still believe is the finest ever star to grace the local football fields.

Call it fantasy but that’s what they think and, in those parts of the country, hometown heroes mean the world to them.

THIS IS FOR BIG JOHN

Forty years ago, John “Big John” Rugg’s Rio Tinto Golden Boys became the closest club, from a mining town, to come close to winning the domestic league championship.

That was in 1983!

Rugg’s men ended the season with 36 points, the same number as Dynamos, who were the most powerful force back then, having won the first three league titles after Independence.

They became the first club to match DeMbare’s tally, in a season, in Independent Zimbabwe and, for the first time in the history of our top-flight league, the top two teams ended with the same number of points.

This was an All-Star Dynamos team, coached by Trevor Carelse-Juul, which on any day could feel the following players in their starting XI — Lucky Dube; Lincoln Mutasa, Sunday Chidzambwa, Misheck Chidzambwa, Oliver Kateya, Kenneth Jere, David Mandigora, Gift Mpariwa, Eddie Katsvere and the Chunga brothers — Moses and Kembo.

The race had to be decided by a tie-breaker, goal difference, and it was the Glamour Boys who emerged the winners, thanks to a breakdown superior tally (+36 goals) compared to Rio’s (+26 goals). And, 40 years later, it’s the closest that we have come to producing a club that can wear the badge of being a league champion with all the honour that comes with that.

This is despite us having produced some of the strongest teams to grace the Prem-iership and some of its finest players. Mhangura were also from our province. They are the club who paraded the Chieza brothers — Tendai, George, Itai and Winston. The club who paraded Aleck Masanjala, Jonathan Munjoma, Philemon Phiri, Lovemore Nyabeza, Booker Muchenu, Joseph Galloway, Webster Chikabala, John Phiri, the Milanzi brothers — Jani and Moses — and, of course, Benjamin Zulu.

There are many elders in Mhangura who argue, to this day, that Benjamin Zulu was the finest footballer to ever grace our local football fields.

Despite all that talent, and all those competitive clubs, our home province has never produced a championship-winning team.Well, all that could end today if Ngezi Platinum Stars beat Simba Bhora at Baobab. We have waited a generation for all this and, to be frank with you, we really don’t know how best we can celebrate this milestone achievement.

Don’t blame us if you feel, in any way, that our celebrations would have gone over the top and you see them spilling into the New Year.

It’s been a lengthy wait for us, as a province and as a people, to be witnesses of such an achievement and, as our great teams kept falling short, we started to believe that was something we would never ever win. This is for John Rugg, without a doubt the coach who did more than any other coach in terms of uplifting football in our province.

He was a Scotsman, a man who was dedicated to his sport and was tasked with guiding the Warriors at Independence as a mark of his services to the game and his unquestionable expertise.

Rugg, who died on August 7, 2008, in his native Scotland, was 71 at the time of his death. He would have been 86 this year, 15 years older than Baltemar Brito, the man who has been tasked with guiding the Warriors in the World Cup qualifiers.

The Ngezi success story comes exactly 15 years after Big John died, and one gets the impression that the football gods are speaking to us in some unique ways.

Maybe, that is the reason why they have chosen that a club, with its roots in a mining town, becomes the first, from our home province, to win the championship.

After all, the history of this game in our province was written by clubs from such mining backgrounds like Ngezi Platinum Stars. Where you now have platinum, as the mineral fuelling this football success story, we used to have gold and copper.

This is for Peter Phiri, another football legend, from our province, who died in Ha-rare in March this year.

He was 84.

Amazingly, we could even have the first club from Chegutu to be promoted into the domestic Premiership this season. Chegutu Pirates, the club affectionately known as Dzinza, who claim they are the ancestors of every football club in this country, are within shooting distance of being crowned champions in the Northern Region Division One soccer league. For us, the people of Mash West, these are the football days of our lives.

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Come on United!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Brunoooooooooooooooooooooooo!

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Email – [email protected]

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You can also interact with me on Twitter (@Chakariboy), Facebook, Instagram (sharukor) and Skype (sharuko58) and Game Plan is back and you can interact with me and my colleague CHARLES “CNN” MABIKA every Wednesday on ZTV.

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