Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
A VIDEO which emerged on Saturday, showing Bruce Grobbelaar splashing urine on the Anfield posts to break a curse and help Liverpool win the English Premiership, has revived debate online about football’s flirtation with fantasy and reality.
It adds another intriguing chapter to the weird tale of the beautiful game’s fascinating relationship with magicians and sorcerers and brings the practice right onto the hallowed grounds of one of the game’s greatest theatres.
According to the former Warriors goalkeeper, who won six league titles at Liverpool and was part of the team which brought the last title to Anfield in 1990, the curse which had been placed on the Reds has been lifted.
It required Grobbelaar splashing urine on the goal posts at Anfield, something which has now been completed and, after 30 years of waiting, Liverpool will finally celebrate their first league championship in May this year.
The Reds’ healthy lead at the top of the table, and good form which has seen them going unbeaten in the league for a whole year, has led many experts to declare them champions-in-waiting this season.
Football, juju and curses, have walked hand-in-hand for some time now with the issue first arriving on the World Cup stage in 1950 when some Brazilians felt a curse was placed on their team not to win that tournament on home soil.
Then, 24 years later, the Democratic Republic of Congo — then known as Zaire — took a number of sangomas to their debut World Cup in Germany but suffered a nine-goal humiliation at the hands of the then Yugoslavia in a group game.
Five years earlier, this country had featured in its first World Cup qualifier in what was supposed to be a two-legged battle against Australia on the neutral fields of Maputo, Mozambique.
The Aussies were odds-on favourites to win the contest but after the first two matches had ended in draws (0-0 and 1-1), the Aussies resorted to some unorthodox means to try and break their opponents’ resistance.
The Socceroos hired a Mozambican sangoma who is said to have cursed their opponents, by using bones which were buried behind the goalposts, ahead of the third, and decisive game.
Australia won that match 3-1 but chose not to pay the n’anga who then reversed the curse, which had been placed on the Zimbabweans, and cast it on the men from Down Under.
Since then, Zimbabwean teams have not lost a competitive game in Mozambique while the Australians, who failed to qualify for that World Cup in 1979, staggered from one heartbreaking failure to another for more than 20 years.
Johnny Warren, who captained the Socceroos in those matches in 1969, revealed that, somehow, the country used to lose key players to illness and injuries, concede own goals and see valid penalty claims rejected, in their quest for a World Cup place.
The claims are contained in his book, “Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters, An Incomplete Biography Of Johnny Warren and Soccer In Australia.”
There were heartbreaking losses in the final qualifying rounds of the 1998 and 2002 World Cups against Iran and Uruguay while a draw at home against minnows Solomon Islands in Adelaide convinced even the doubters the Socceroos had been cursed.
This forced Aussie journalist, John Safran, to travel to Maputo where he engaged two local sangomas, Paulinho and Miriam, who asked him to wear a Socceroos jersey, took him to the Estadio de Machavo, where they performed some rituals.
This included sacrificing a chicken and some liquid being poured over his face, head, arms and legs on the goalposts of the stadium.
The Aussies also paid the US$10 000 which the Mozambican sangoma had demanded, in 1969, but wasn’t delivered after the match.
Safran then returned to Australia where, in the company of Warren, they performed the final steps of the rituals at the Sydney Football Ground by splashing themselves with clay and water and washing away the 30-year curse.
A year later, goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer’s heroics in a penalty shoot-out in Sydney, where he saved from Darío Rodríguez and Marcelo Zalayeta, to help the Socceroos beat Uruguay for a place at the 2006 World Cup finals.
Since then, the Aussies have qualified for every World Cup finals.
“He (Warren) was a big believer in the curse,” Safran said.
“So, it felt good, he was very grateful we had gone over to do it and I felt like I had done something good for once in my life.”
Recently, former Dynamos skipper, Memory Mucherahowa, lifted the lid on the rituals which the Glamour Boys used to perform, including belief in sangomas, when he led them to success on the domestic Premiership.
Mucherahowa revealed this in his autobiography, “Soul of Seven Million Dreams,” which found its way onto the BBC platforms.
Now, Grobbelaar is the talk of the game in England after a video emerged at the weekend showing him pouring urine on the Anfield goalposts to try and break the curse and help Liverpool win the league for the first time in 30 years.
The video confirms his interview with BT Sport last month in which he first talked about the curse and what he was doing to try and break it.
“I had a testimonial in 1992 and was sponsored by Zambezi Lager and they sent a witch doctor with the lager,” Grobbelaar said.
“He arrived on the posts and put his goat’s tail, put his water on the posts of both sides (of Anfield), for the microphone and said, “if you don’t have the Jungleman, Bruce Grobbelaar, here, you won’t win the title.”
Grobbelaar left for Southampton and Liverpool have not won the league title since.
However, the former Warriors goalkeeper believes he has paid his dues.
Grobbelaar said during the 2013-2014 season, he urinated on the goalposts at the Kop end of Anfield but was kicked out of the stadium before he could complete the ritual on the posts at the Anfield Road end.
Liverpool finished second that season, two points short of the tally set by Manchester City, with skipper Steve Gerrard infamously slipping during a crucial moment of a game against Chelsea towards the end of the season. Then, there was that capitulation at Crystal Palace when Liverpool surrender a three goal lead in a match that ended 3-3.
Grobbelaar kept trying to find a way and he says he finally completed his task last season.
“I fulfilled my task, last season I played in a corporate game here (at Anfield), we were in the dressing room and the guy said your have to do the business today.
“I said, “okay,” I took a water bottle, poured the water out, peed in the bottle and came back.
“First half, at the Kop end, I splashed it all over the posts, second half, I came down the Anfield abroad and splashed it all over the posts.” Now, Grobbelaar believes the curse has been lifted and Liverpool are primed to win their first league title in 30 years, and their first in the era of the Premiership.
Whether this comes to pass, only time will tell, but — judging by how the Reds have been performing this season — it’s difficult to believe otherwise. What can’t be disputed is that the Jungleman has been trying to play his part, as weird as it sounds and looks, the video posted online at the weekend proves just that.