Tales of the Legends – Going Down Memory Lane With Yesteryear’s Greats

Exactly 39-years ago on a bright sunny Saturday afternoon on the 4th of October 1975, all the trauma of apartheid was temporarily forgotten as blacks and whites converged at the then Suidwes Stadion (Hage Geingob Stadium) in Windhoek to watch a most unlikely exhibition football match transcending the racial divide for at least 90 minutes.

It was the very first time during the apartheid era that whites and blacks were allowed to compete on equal terms. A pair of 22 amateur footballers trotted onto the turf to compete against each other. The captains Hasso Ahrens (Ramblers) and young Albert Tjihero (African Stars) shook hands amidst loud applause from the thousands of fans that cramped into the tiny stadium.

At the gracious invitation of Gondwana, a total of 36 former footballers, trainers and officials who were part and parcel of the this historic occasion will get together for a reunion tonight. Both teams will turn up at almost full-strength and while some squad members have long taken a bow from the game of life, the surviving squad members will be travelling to Windhoek from all over the country, from as far as Tsumkwe, Otavi, Swakopmund, Keetmanshoop, Walvis Bay, Johannesburg and Cape Town to revive the good old memories. The stars of yesteryear will clink glasses and reminisce about that crucial and historic match and even though the tie ended in a controversial 3-all stalemate, there were two indisputable winners – football and human relations, which ultimately led to reconciliation. However, that historic match was marred by some dubious refereeing decisions. Now with a different mindset, more mature and much wiser, the said referee will also be in attendance at the reunion as Namibia celebrates 24 years of independence. “Although some of us might not always be satisfied with some of the referee’s decisions, I personally think the score line was a fair reflection of the match,” says veteran retired politician, Dirk Mudge.

Football followers had to make use of separate entrances to go through the turnstiles, with the darkies who accounted for almost two thirds of the entire crowd seated in the eastern and southern sections of the open stands, while the larneys watched proceedings from the comfort of luxurious suites and the grandstand in the western section. Among those in attendance was the author and 15-year-old sports enthusiast Manny Goldbeck, who walked the long way from his parents home to the stadium, since the football crazy larney youngster wanted to be part of this historic match very much against the wishes of his old man. Today, Manny is the Managing Director of the Gondwana Collection and it was his idea to arrange a reunion of his former football idols – almost 40 years later, following the end of apartheid. “Our cultural diversity is a source of strength for Namibia,” says an emotional Manny. “It is also a very important component of Gondwana’s recipe for success, same as gender equality. With this reunion, we want to highlight that with the general elections approaching and also against the background of the controversy about the much trumpeted equestrian monument that we are still one nation.” The reunion gets underway tonight in the rustic, desert ambience of the Gondwana shebeen and brings together the veterans of the 197576 squads, as well as many personalities who have left a mark on the football scene during the past 40 years.

The Namibian Women’s national football team and Global United FC have also accepted the invitation with enthusiasm. Global United FC is a non-profit association of international football stars that support environmental awareness education, while spreading the core message of climate change throughout the world. Tomorrow, the Class of 7576 will converge at the Ramblers field to showcase their abilities, possibly a bit rusty in a 5-A-side Old Boys Tourney at 17h45. Afterwards, a g Old Boys invitational (former local top footballers) squad comes up against the star studded Global United FC, featuring former local and internationals such as Collin Benjamin, Olaf Marschall and former Ireland international Terry Phelan. So far, close to 200 people have confirmed their attendance. Former greats in the mould of Peter Gurney, Ronnie Dagnin and Carlos de Gouveia will be travelling all the way from South Africa to be part of this historic reunion, while football guru Oscar Norich-Tjahuha and Max Johnson, Cellle Auchumeb, Archie Ochurub will come from Tsumeb, including other players from outside Windhoek. Gondwana has been inundated with calls from former footballers who have purchased new boots to showcase their skills at this historic occasion. Football gurus Willem Hans and Hasso Ahrens will also be in action. The likes of Ivo de Gouveia, Steve Stephanus, Sammy Alfheim, Ranga Lucas, Oscar Mengo, Don Corbett, Celle Auchumeb, Ronny Dagnin, Brazello Haoseb, Albert Tjihero, Guumlnter Hellinghausen, Noas Gariseb, Willy Rwida, Ambrosius Vyff, Echardt Razamo and Bigman Nanuseb are sure to set the Ramblers field alight at 16h30. Says Harald Hecht of Global United: “The players might be a bit long in the tooth, but we are sure that most of them still have that special quality which kept football fans excited in 1975.” The likeable beanpole football administrator added that local football lovers will miss the game of the year if they don’t attend tomorrow’s spectacle. Proceedings start with the Ramblers season opening Old Boys 5-A-side tournament at 12h00.

Source : New Era