Imagine the Highlanders FC goalkeeping department with Britto Gwere, Gift Muzadzi and Tapuwa Kapini. Or Stewart Murisa teaming up with Norman Komani and Gift Zvavanhu at AmaZulu FC upfront.
Another miss for the fans was having Itai, George and Tendai Chieza at Highlanders. John ‘Gwejegweje’ Nyumbu lining up with Chita Antonio, Majuta Mpofu, Isaac Mafaro, Josiah Nxumalo and Itai Chieza in the Highlanders side of 1976.
So sumptuous are some of these possible lineups made up of stiff competition for places. Sunday News Leisure had a brush with some legends during the course of last week. Talk was about the great yesteryear and how some players changed direction when a deal looked complete only to turn out for bitter rivals.
“I drove all the way from Harare with Gift Muzadzi to Bulawayo with the intention of joining Highlanders in 2002.
We had a fallout with Dynamos leadership. The club felt senior players were behind industrial action and we were singled out and AmaZulu heard about that.
“We were invited to Bulawayo and booked at Rainbow Hotel. The whole of Saturday no one from the club came to see us. Frustrated in the morning on Sunday, we thought AmaZulu were not serious and we decided to drive back to Harare,” said Murisa who would later combine with Adam Ndlovu to land Bosso a fourth consecutive title in 2002.
Once in Harare both players got a call from Ernest Sibanda who invited them over to Bosso. Sibanda was at the time the manager of the trailblazing Bosso side that had dominated local football since 1998.
Murisa took up the offer but Muzadzi refused. He did not want to hurt the rising young goalminder at Highlanders.
“Umbro (Gift) refused to take up the offer because of his relationship with Tapuwa Kapini. They were friends from Harare and he saw a lot of potential and if Muzadzi came to Highlanders, Kapini would not have had a chance to grow to his fullest. I came and I do not regret making the decision to play for Highlanders,” said Murisa.
One of Highlanders’ least celebrated heroes Silas Ndlovu, the man credited with turning around the club in 1973 into a powerhouse, was in town on Monday with other greats and legends of the past.
He spoke of his 1973 recruitment drive that turned around the club. In his coup, Ndlovu brought Tymon Mabaleka, Cavin Duberley, Boet Van Ays, Itai Chieza, Isaac Mafaro and Stanley Nyika.
While these went on to deliver magnificently for the club, Ndlovu was robbed of the other two Chieza brothers. They were stolen from his hold while he was at work despite bringing them from Mhangura to turn out for the club.
“All was set for them to join Highlanders with Itai. They were actually driving around town in my Citroen car only to be told that Mashonanald United later renamed Zimbabwe Saints had stolen them under his watch,” said Ndlovu.
With Chita Antonio riding high as an emerging striker, the shrewd manager in Ndlovu went for his signature too.
Despite coming all the way all set for a dance with high riding Amahlolanyama, he landed at Zimbabwe Saints.
“Chita Antonio was another one I lost out to Zimbabwe Saints despite agreeing with him for a move to Highlanders,” said Ndlovu.
Antonio featured prominently in the Zimbabwe Saints team of 1977 that won the Castle Cup and the league championship. He is regarded as one the cheekiest strikers the country has over produced.
Saints completed their hat trick of stealing players under Ndlovu and Bosso’s noses in 1976. Everything had gone according to the script with Highlanders promising and signing John Nyumbu, a gangly hotshot from Gweru United.
He was scoring for fan for the Midlanders and his stock suited Highlanders who had been runners-up thrice in national league play offs since 1975 and with 1976, a national league, a stronger attacking line up was all they cared for, for more better results and more glory.
With $400 assured to Nyumbu, he was asked to go to the Rhodesia National Football League offices near the Bulawayo High Court.
There he found Peter Nemapare, the secretary-general of the organisation. Nemapare to Nyumbu’s surprise allegedly refused to accept his forms. The RFNL official quickly called a Saints official Herbert Ushewokunze who also allegedly did not buy the story of Nyumbu playing for Highlanders of all the teams when he arrived.
“I was told that in no uncertain terms would they allow me to play for Highlanders of all the teams. They even said they would better Bosso’s offer and make sure if I had already taken the money I return it,” said Nyumbu much to the laughter of the other legends present.
The legends Gibson Homela, Lawrence Phiri, Ebson Muguyo, Douglas Mloyi and former Bulawayo Rockets defence stalwart Jotham Moyo and Bosso’s Colsen Mabeza were in the city to take part in the shooting of two documentaries, one for Tymon Mabaleka and George ‘Mastermind’ Shaya.
“Naturally I was disappointed to lose the class of those players that went to Zimbabwe Saints. When I called the father of the Chieza brothers, he said it was good that the other boys had gone to Saints. He said it was never a clever thing to put all eggs in one basket,” said Ndlovu.
The Shaya documentary is expected to be previewed next month with the launch in October while Tymon Mabaleka’s is scheduled for early next year.
Both projects are the brains of United States of America based Albert Chiwandamira who is on record as saying the nation must celebrate its own heroes. Eulogies at funerals he said are not enough but best when they are still living. The Sunday News