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Were Bosso robbed in ‘76 title race?

By Robson Sharuko

For some, they are the greatest Dynamos team of all-time, a brutal machine that rolled past everything which came into their path.

CRYING FOUL. . . Highlanders legend, Douglas “British’’ Mloyi (centre), seen here in the company of the late Bosso superstar, Willard Mashinkila-Khumalo (right) and sports broadcaster, Mike Madoda, still feels the pain of the events of the final weekend of the league championship, in 1977
CRYING FOUL. . . Highlanders legend, Douglas “British’’ Mloyi (centre), seen here in the company of the late Bosso superstar, Willard Mashinkila-Khumalo (right) and sports broadcaster, Mike Madoda, still feels the pain of the events of the final weekend of the league championship, in 1977

They also transformed themselves into the champions of Southern African football.

That was the Class of ‘76, a vintage collection of Glamour Boys legends, led by George ‘’Mastermind’’ Shaya, who won the championship and thrashed Zimbabwe Saints 8-1, in the final of the Castle Cup, to complete a League and Cup Double.

There was another eight-goal demolition, of Chibuku (8-0), in the Nyore Nyore Shield final at Rufaro, on March 7, that year, with Daniel “Dhidhidhi’’ Ncube scoring five of DeMbare’s eight goals.

Shaya and his teammates won five of the six knockout tournaments, including the BAT Rosebowl, during that season with their only failure, for a clean sweep, coming when they lost to Zimbabwe Saints, in the semi-finals of the Chibuku Cup.

With legends like Matthew Mwale, Shadreck Ngwenya, Shepherd Murape, Isaac Nhema, Simon Sachiti, Shaw Handriade, Kuda Muchemeyi, Ernest Kamba and Oliver Kateya, this was an All-Star Glamour Boys outfit.

They also showed their pedigree, beyond the country’s borders, when they staged a stunning comeback, to overhaul a first led 3-5 defeat to Orlando Pirates, in Johannesburg, to thrash the Buccaneers 4-1 at Rufaro, to be crowned the champions of Southern Africa.

They had beaten Moroka Swallows, in the semi-finals, while Pirates had accounted for Aces, in the other match.

A return of 67 goals, in 19 knockout matches, was a demonstration, if any was needed, of the destructive power of this Glamour Boys side.

“If one looks back at our star-studded side, he or she could easily see why I rate it as the best Dynamos line-up ever,’’ said David “Broomboy’’ George.

“We had arguably the best midfield duo in the country, in Shaya — whom I rate as the finest-ever player produced in this country — we had a terrific talisman who was an intelligent game reader and could win a match almost single-handedly.’’

But, on the 50th anniversary of that season, when the Glamour Boys dominated the scene, some questions have started emerging, especially in Bulawayo, in general, and at Highlanders, in particular, about the purity of the success of that DeMbare outfit.

Some voices have started to claim those Glamour Boys’ triumph, in the league championship, was something that was handed to them, by the game’s leadership, back then, at the expense of what should have been a Bosso success story.

It’s been a story that has been trending, for the past five years, but it has now been amplified, as the hurt, among the Bosso legends, of missing out on what they consider to have been a championship, which they deserved, intensifies, on the 50th anniversary of that season.

For the record, Dynamos won the championship, that season, by two points, after completing the season with 27 points, from their 18 matches, while Bosso were second, on 25 points, from their 18 games.

But, what hasn’t been a subject for discussion, in the capital and its surrounding areas, is that, in the final game of the season, the Glamour Boys were handed a walkover, ironically over Bosso, in what should have been the deciding match, in Bulawayo.

The Highlanders crew insist of they had won that match, they would have been champions, with DeMbare finishing second, and the legend of the ’76 Glamour Boys side might have been different.

“We were devastated that the league was stolen from us,’’ Bosso legend, Douglas “British’’ Mloyi, told blogger Lovemore Dube, an authority when it comes to the Highlanders history, who has been compiling some articles about the club’s past.

“We had worked hard, it rained the whole week and (the) Rhodesia National Football League’s boss John Madzima was advised that Barbourfields was waterlogged.

“There was no drainage then.

“On Sunday we did not go to Barbourfields but, surprisingly, Madzima came with Dynamos on Sunday and we were walked-over and pipped to the title by a solitary point (two points).

“It denied us our first title and consequences thereafter hit hard on Highlanders.’’

And, that’s the only reason Mloyi is bitter about what happened in 1976 with a 0-4 thrashing by Zimbabwe Saints, in the Chibuku Trophy final, another dark chapter for Bosso.

“While no team was at home the decision to have Bulawayo teams play in Harare riled us,’’ he said.

“About the loss, to some extent, news that Saints were flying (Gibson) Homela for the match also upset our plans, psychologically, having someone coming from Europe created some sense of inferiority in us and we never got to the party.

“Saints were the better side in all respects and used their chances.’’

Mloyi isn’t the only Bosso legend who still has nightmares about what happened in 1976.

Silas Ndlovu, who was the club manager of the club from 1972 to 1977, also feels Highlanders were given a raw deal, during the final weekend of the championship season, with the establishment favouring Dynamos.

“Dynamos were handed the league title on a silver platter. It rained cats and dogs in Bulawayo the whole week,’’ Ndlovu told Dube.

“John Madzima was in the UK, on Sunday, Peter Nemapare who was Madzima’s deputy in the Rhodesia National Football League, who had flown from South Africa, inspected the pitch with us and Bulawayo City Council, and concurred Barbourfields could not host the match.

“To our utter surprise, Dynamos who were informed and did not catch the flight to Bulawayo, were awarded the match on a walkover decision.

“There already was simmering tension with all clubs, saying Dynamos were being favoured by the system, we led them by a point and a draw would have been sufficient for us to win the national league title, the first in that format since 1972, after the previous three were regional championships.

“I was accused of influencing BCC (Bulawayo City Council) over the pitch and they lied that we did not want to play because Majuta Mpofu was out, through injury, which was not true.

“There never was a hearing and we lost the title to Dynamos leading to some clubs sympathising with us and we went on to form the South Zone Soccer League.’’ The Herald