WE’RE A STUBBORN, STATIC FOLK A sizable chunk of fans, who ordinarily would have wanted to be at Rufaro tomorrow to watch the Derby, will not be there because they want to watch the final episode of the EPL drama. Picture: Libertino.

Sharuko on Saturday

IT is universally accepted as the world’s most beautiful game but football has come a long way from its humble beginnings rooted in conflict, severe injuries and even death.

Where football originated is generally a matter of a never-ending global dispute with England, China, Japan, Greece and Egypt all laying a claim to that.

What isn’t in dispute is that the English developed it into the game that we know today and, crucially, also gave it its name.

The first football games in England were savage battles, which were played in the eastern part of the country, and were generally wild and violent encounters.

On one occasion, one of these games involved the locals kicking around the severed head of a Danish Prince, who had been captured in battle.

Violence, severe injuries and even death were just a part of these games.

They were eventually stopped in 1331 when King Edward III passed laws outlawing such games.

Later in 1572, Queen Elizabeth I enacted laws where those who played football were liable to be sentenced to spend a week in jail.

But, one way or the other, football survived to keep marching on, in one form or the other, and the first ever official match took place on Boxing Day in 1860.

It featured two English clubs, Sheffield FC and Hallam FC, and was played at Sandygate Road in Sheffield.

Three years later, on October 26, 1863, the Football Association was formed when 11 London schools and clubs came together at a tavern to establish a set of rules to administer the game.

Since then, football has undergone a stunning transformation, dumped its past built and associated with savagery, cleaned its image and became the beautiful game that we have today.

And, as the football gods would have it, one of the two clubs which play the most beautiful football in the English Premiership – Manchester City or Arsenal – will be crowned champions tomorrow.

It will be a fitting end to a remarkable season in which two clubs, which both drink from the Pep Guardiola school of football, have gone toe-to-toe in a titanic tussle for the championship.

Mikel Arteta cut his coaching milk teeth under Pep’s wing, in a dynamic Spanish combination at City, before he decided he had picked enough lessons to be his own man.

It’s very likely he will come short tomorrow, with the beast which Pep has built at City once again primed to celebrate another championship title, but only the devil will see any shame in that.

Yes, there is honour in coming second, even in a sport like football where attainment of honours has always been the hallmark of greatness, and Arteta’s silver medal, if it comes to that, will have a shade of gold.

Arsenal have won 15 of their 17 Premiership games since the turn of the year and Arteta and his men could not have done more, in terms of trying to win the title, than they have done.

They are likely to end with 89 points, if they win tomorrow, and that would have been good enough for them to end up tied with Manchester City at the top of the EPL table last year.

It’s a tally that could have also helped them finish tied, with the eventual champions, four other times in ’95, 2007, 2011 and 2012.

It’s a tally which would have been good enough for Arsenal to win the championship 15 times in ’93, ’96, ’97, ’98, ’99, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2021.

To put what Arteta’s Arsenal has achieved into perspective, Ahis Class of 2023 will, in the event they win their last game, finishing just one point adrift of the 90 points which the Invincibles of Arsenal accumulated in 2004.

When one considers that Wenger’s side were unbeaten all season, it highlights that Arteta and his men have been absolutely brilliant this season, even if they end up with nothing, in terms of trophies.


By 7pm tomorrow, unless World War III breaks out between now and then, we will know the identity of the winners of the English Premiership, which has a huge following around the world.

I am one of those who are hooked up to the Premiership which is watched in about 212 countries, about 643 million homes and a global TV audience of about 4.7 billion.

Of course, my interest in the championship race ended a long time ago because Manchester United, as they have so often done under Erik Ten Hag, decided to rewrite records for all the wrong reasons.

But, a huge chunk of local football fans will still be interested in the outcome of the championship race, either as neutrals or interested parties, and will be glued to TV stations to watch this drama unfold.

If I was one of the PSL leaders, I would have detected, from the word go, that this poses a risk to the Harare Derby, in terms of the expected crowd, which will come to watch the city’s biggest football fixture.

I would have detected that there is a danger that a sizable chunk of fans, who ordinarily would have wanted to be at Rufaro tomorrow to watch the Derby, will not be there because they want to watch the final episode of the EPL drama.

I would have ordered that the Derby be played today, rather than tomorrow, to protect it from the damage, in terms of crowd attendance, which could come from the final EPL showdown.

The Soweto Derby in South Africa is played on Saturdays and attracts an average of 90 000 fans and, if that is possible across the Limpopo, why is it not possible in this country?

The Castle Tankard is a Saturday event and it attracted more than 50 000 people when it was held recently and, if such a number can go there, why can’t a similar number go to Rufaro and watch the Derby on a Saturday?

The Champions League final this year will be played on Saturday, June 1, at Wembley and, next year, it will be played on Saturday, May 31, in Munich.

There is absolutely no need for local football leaders to keep clinging on to the old-fashioned ways of having big matches played on Sunday because the world has changed, and the game has changed, too.

You can’t leave your biggest game in the capital being exposed to the threat of an EPL climax, something which one doesn’t need to pay for to watch in a sports bar, simply because you are resisting change.

Their decision to erect giant outdoor screens, for fans to watch the climax of the EPL title race is, in itself, an acknowledgement that events in England will offer a real threat to the appeal of the Harare Derby.

But, all this could have been avoided by just staging the big game this afternoon.

And, some of the fans who love a drink or two would have had their alcohol without having to worry about a hangover, which they can nurse tomorrow, without dealing with it at work on Monday.

A league which doesn’t change with the changing times is doomed to die and all that the PSL leaders needed was to acknowledge that the EPL climax is a direct competitor to the Derby and act accordingly.


There was a time, before 1990, when it was unthinkable that English football games would get underway at any other time which is not 3pm on a Saturday, or 7.45pm on a Tuesday.

Well, kick-off time was so cast in stone that even if the visiting team was stuck elsewhere, the match would get underway as planned without them.

In 1983, Crewe thrashed Exeter 29-0 with the home side having played the first half on their own with the visitors only joining the action after the interval.

The arrival of Sky TV, and the millions of dollars which has transformed the EPL, changed everything.

Given Sky were providing the funds, they could call the shots and this meant that the kick-off times of the EPL had to suit the television channel’s business interests, especially the key Far East market.

So, on October 2, 2005, the league match between Manchester City and Everton got underway at 11.15 am.

During the 2018 season, there was a proposal for the Arsenal/Chelsea game to kick off at 9.30am to satisfy the Far East market.

 During the 2003/04 season, after Sevilla refused a request from Barcelona for their league match to be moved, the Catalans came up with a midnight kick-off.

The game got underway five minutes into the morning, before 80 000 fans, and Ronaldinho, in his first home match, scored a stunner.

Basically, what this shows us is that football has changed and there is no point to keep clinging to traditions of the past where, like in our league, big matches have to be played at 3pm on Sunday.

I don’t see any reason why tomorrow’s Derby shouldn’t have kicked off at midday or 1pm, just to ensure that those who want to watch the climax of the EPL season would have enough time to dash home, or to the sports bars, to do so.

The point is that we should do more to protect our top-flight league and that means freeing ourselves from the chains which keep us hooked up to the old traditions of starting matches at 3pm on Sundays.

We have to change or we will be left behind by this game which is changing every day.

 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 Chegutu Pirates!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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