EVERYTHING eventually comes to an end – be it in life, a summer break to recharge batteries and, if you are a Liverpool fan, even a lengthy wait for the league title.
When we parted company, just before Christmas as I nursed the pain of seeing CAPS United self-destruct in a race I wanted them to win, I said that, Inshalla (God willing) – I would be back.
Well, like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator, I’m back!
Some will say it’s unprofessional for me to have wanted CAPS United to win the league title last season because I am supposed to be neutral.
Fair criticism, which I acknowledge, but even football writers have hearts and when you recall the tragedy that consumed Blessing Makunike, Gary Mashoko and Shingi Arlon, it’s hard not to be swayed by emotions.
Especially, when a golden opportunity presented itself, last season, for their memory, on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of their death, to be honoured by celebrations among the Green Machine family of another league title.
There were five people in that car when it veered off the road and crashed on that bridge before bursting into a fireball that consumed all of them on that tragic March day in 2004.
CAPS United’s spectacular collapse last season means they still remain with five titles.
And, one gets a feeling a sixth one would have helped bury the painful memories of having their titles, as remains the case now, representing each of the men who died in that accident.
If you are from the old school, like myself, there was also the issue of Shacky Tauro.
The greatest goal scorer, in the Green Machine history, announced his grand arrival on the domestic scene as Soccer Star of the Year in 1979 when he powered Makepekepe to the league championship.
And, last year, provided a perfect stage for the Green Machine to honour 40 years of their coming of age, and Tauro’s immense contribution to their cause, with another championship success story.
It would also have been a perfect way to remember the 10th anniversary of the year Tauro died in 2009.
When you stagger towards a certain age, like what I’m doing now, approaching half-a-century, you start seeing things in a different way.
You become a bit sober, a sense of calm becomes your default settings, you begin to appreciate your children even more and take every day, week and month as a blessing, and not a right.
You also begin to appreciate God even more, maybe because there is a now deep underlying sense of an imminent reunion with the Lord in the other world, you prayer longer, party less and value life for what it is and not what it should be.
That’s why, during my lengthy break, I took time to once again explore spirituality, sit down with my elders in Chakari, talk at length about religion, about God, about us as a people, about our beliefs, about our fears and about our enemies.
I turn 50 next month, God willing, with 28 of those years having been spent walking, working and writing in the corridors of this newspaper’s office.
And, the good guys at Highlanders, through their hardworking chief executive Nhlanhla Dube, have already offered me a birthday present, even though I’m days away from that special day.
A ceremonial membership of their club, which I have gladly accepted, because I feel there’s something special about being part of that royal family.
And, it’s also something which will please the spirit of my late old man, who didn’t have to choose club affiliation, given his Ngoni bloodline made him a Highlanders fan from the day he came into this world in 1939.
Thank you Bosso, I’m proud to be one of you.
MUSIC, EVEN THE TASTE CHANGES, AND SO DOES ITS MEANING
At my age, your taste of music also changes.
And dark songs like Dolly Parton’s ‘’Me And Little Andy,’’ for all its eerie lyrics of an abandoned little girl, and her puppy, who ask for shelter at a stranger’s house on a stormy night but end up dying that same night, even start appealing to you.
‘’Late one cold and stormy night I heard a dog barking
Then I thought I heard somebody at my door knocking
I wondered who could be outside in such an awful storm
Then I saw a little girl with a puppy in her arms
‘’Before I could say a word she said; ‘My name is Sandy,
‘And this here is my puppy dog, its name is little Andy’
Standing in the bitter cold in just a ragged dress
Then I asked her to come in and this is what she said:
‘’‘Ain’t you got no gingerbread
Ain’t you got no candy
Ain’t you got an extra bed for me and little Andy
Patty cake and bakersman
My mommy ran away again
And we were all alone and didn’t know what else to do
I wonder if you’ll let us stay with you
‘’’If you don’t love us no one will
I promise we won’t cry
London bridge is falling down
My daddy’s drunk again in town
And we was all alone and didn’t know what we could do
I wonder if you’ll let us stay with you’
‘’She was just a little girl, not more than six or seven
But that night as they slept the angels took them both to heaven
God knew little Andy would be lonesome with her gone
Now Sandy and her puppy dog won’t ever be alone.’’
And you also begin to see things in a very different perspective.
Like why, in every World Cup held in a year that finishes with the number two -1982 (Cameroon), 2002 (Burkina Faso) and 2022 (Ghana), our Warriors have to play West African opposition in the qualifiers?
Or why, since South Africa’s return into the international football family, we always have to play Bafana Bafana in the World Cup qualifiers of the finals held in a year that ends with a two (2002 and now 2022)?
Your mind drifts back to the last time we played Bafana Bafana in a World Cup qualifier at home on July 9, 2000, and the disaster that unfolded that afternoon, leaving 13 fans dead after a stampede, and you ask yourself some tough questions.
Like why did that match have to be played on July 9, of all days, a date that has historically been associated, down the years, with death and destruction across the world?
- Why was our ill-fated match fixtured the same day 19 Dutch Catholic priests were hanged, on July 9, 1572, in the town of Brielle by militants during the 16th century religious wars?
- Why was our ill-fated game fixtured the same day, July 9, 1790, the second Battle of Svenskund erupted in the Baltic Sea with the Swedish navy capturing a third of the Russian fleet in that conflict?
- Why was our game fixtured the same day, July 9, 1852, fire destroyed 1 100 construction sites in Montreal, Canada?
- Why was our game fixtured the same day, July 9, 1917, the Battleship HMS Vanguard exploded at Scapa Flow, killing 804 people?
- Why was our game fixtured the same day, July 9, 1918, 101 people were killed, with 171 being injured, in the worst United States train wreck in Nashville, Tennessee?
- Why was our game fixtured the same day, July 9, 1934, Heinrich Himnler took command of the Nazi concentration camps where, with the passage of time, millions of Jews and others would be killed by the Nazi regime?
- Why was our game fixtured the same day, July 9, 1972, British snipers shot dead five Catholic civilians, and wounded two others, in the Springville Massacre in Belfast?
- Why was our game fixtured the same day, July 9, 1982, Pan Am Boeing 727 crashed in Kenner, Louisiana, killing 153 people?
- Why was our game fixtured the same day, July 9, 2006, when at least 122 people were killed after a Sibir Airlines Airbus A310 passenger jet, with 200 passengers on board, veered off the runaway while landing at Irkutsk Airport in Siberia?
- Why was our game fixtured the same day, July 9, 2014, Typhoon Rammasun, began and ended up killing 151 people and the same day, July 9, 2015, when Chuck Blazer got a life ban from FIFA for his corrupt activities?
Like Sandy and her puppy Andy, who died on the same stormy night a Good Samaritan offered them shelter, too many questions but very few answers.
AND, YOU ALSO BEGIN TO UNDERSTAND, WHEN CYCLES COME TO AN END
At my age, even numbers get a new meaning and I have been looking at the number 30, which represents the end of a cycle, and wondering whether that’s the reason Liverpool will end their lengthy 30-year wait for the league title this year?
Asking myself why there were 30 years between Shacky Tauro’s finest hour, winning the Soccer Star of the Year and leading CAPS United to their first league title in 1979, and his death in 2009?
Whether it’s just a coincidence there are four months (April, June, September and November) with 30 days and, in the bible, we have four evangelists – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?
Why, the minimum of age of United States Senators has to be 30 years, why the first big war in modern Europe – between 1618 and 1648 – had to last 30 years, why Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus Christ for 30 pieces of silver?
Is it just a coincidence Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist, to start His teachings and healings, at 30 years?
That Joseph was 30 when he stood before Pharaoh, King of Egypt, King David was 30 when he began to reign, that Peleg, Salah and Serug got their sons when they were 30, that prophet Ezekiel started to write his book when he was 30?
That Ezekiel was also 30 when he received his first visions from God, the ark which Noah built was 30 cubits high, the word “empire“ is mentioned 30 times in the bible – 27 times in the Old Testament and three times in the New Testament?
And, of course, that when this season got underway in August last year, 30 years had passed since the Hillsborough tragedy claimed 96 of the Reds fans.
It’s a tragedy many associate with the end of Liverpool’s dominance of English football – as the team battled the demons inflicted by the sheer loss of their fans – and, after 30 years, the cycle is now complete and the Reds can be champions again.
Michael Thomas, a player of African descent, famously sliced through the Liverpool defence to score the last-gasp second goal, in a 2-0 win for Arsenal, exactly the result the Gunners needed to win the league title in 1989, at the expense of the Reds.
Mohamed Salah, a player of African descent, famously ran half the length of the pitch at Anfield on Sunday to score a last-gasp goal in a 2-0 win for Liverpool, over the old enemy Manchester United, as if to confirm the end of the cycle.
It’s a season that stated exactly 30 years after the meltdown at Anfield in 1989 and it’s a season that will end 30 years after Liverpool last won a league title.
Yes, folks, I’m back and ain’t you got no gingerbread, ain’t you got no candy, ain’t you got an extra bed, for me and little Andy?
As in Andy Robertson!
To God Be The Glory!
Peace to the GEPA Chief, the Big Fish, George Norton and all the Chakariboys in the struggle.
Come on United!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole Ole!
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