Charles Mabika Special Correspondent
THE 87th Harare Derby between Dynamos and CAPS United is on once again at Rufaro tomorrow. When the first derby exploded in March 1976, both sides fielded star-studded sides that displayed a concoction of dazzling staff that ended in a five-goal thriller, with DeMbare clinching a mouth-watering tie.
The Glamour Boys’ 3-2 victory was engineered by a little genius — George “Mastermind” Shaya, who created all of his side’s goals scored by Daniel “Dhidhidhi” Ncube, who scored a brace and Oliver Kateya, with the other goal.
The Green Machine’s double had come from their golden sons — Shacky “Mr Goals” Tauro and Peter “Petso” Augustinho. That first match between the capital’s biggest rivals was simply breathtaking as both sides exhibited a thrill-a-minute affair.
Other skilful exponents who were in action included Simon Sachiti, Shaw “Kojak” Handriade, Kuda “Kuda Boy” Muchemeyi and ’keeper Matthew Mwale for Dynamos.
CAPS United featured the likes of Charles “Raw Meat” Sibanda, Elisha Gejo, Solomon Kaseke and Isaac “Batman” Mafaro.
The ’80s heralded in a new crop of talent like Moses “Razorman” Chunga, David “Yogi” Mandigora, Kenneth “Computer” Jere, Hamid “Muzukuru” Dhana, Edward Muchongwe and ’keeper Japhet “Shortcat” Muparutsa.
Makepekepe were fortunate to still have the predatory goalscoring ace, Tauro, who now had been joined by the electrifying trio of Stanford “Stix” Mutizwa, Joel “Jubilee” Shambo and Stanley “Sinyo” Ndunduma and keepers Brenna Msiska and Duncan “Zico” Ellison.
The fanfare of the roller-coaster rides of the Harare Derby continued to soar.
The ’90s brought in another remarkable rivalry which had the likes of Vitalis Takawira, his brother Claudius Zviripayi, Memory Mucherahohwa and Tauya “The Flying Doctor” Murehwa. The Green Machine boasted of the likes George Nechironga, Mpumelelo Dzowa, Basil Chisopo, Joe “Kode” Mugabe, Edwin Farayi (oh what a gem of a midfielder this lad was until he was stricken by an injury that ended his career), Stewart “Shutto” Murisa and Alois Bunjira.
The last two decades of the derby have been a far cry from the original screenplay.
However, they have produced some notable stand-out players of the derby — Oscar Machapa — who is one of a few players to cross the Great Divide and shine in both colours of rivals.
Other players who have shone for both sides include Tonderai Mutambikwa, Steven Alimenda and Lovemore Ncube.
Fast forward now to the last decade.
Both sides have simply failed to re-ignite that excitement which used to produce an average of three to five goals per derby.
And, a lot of former players who featured in previous derbies keep asking themselves why this deterioration has been sprung upon us.
Mandigora, who was crowned the country’s Soccer Star of the Year in 1980 and excelled in most of the derby clashes, says the quality of players during their era or before, was streets ahead of the current artistes.
“For example, some of the players in the current Dynamos side would not have made it into our line-ups. Our side had the likes of the Chunga brothers (Kembo and Moses), Eddie Katsvere, Dhana, Ernest Mutano, Muparutsa, Sunday and Misheck Chidzambwa, just to mention a few,” said the legendary midfielder.
“And CAPS had the likes of Shambo, Mutizwa, Ndunduma, Tauro, Friday Phiri and a host of others. Fans would be assured of a top quality exchange in the derby,” he said.
Mutizwa blamed the lack of junior development programmes for the lacklustre matches in the capital’s derbies.
“Our initial rivalry was created back at primary school levels, where for example, guys from the then capital’s townships would clash in junior development tournaments and the rivalry continued right up to senior level,” he said.
“Nowadays, players from Dynamos and CAPS have never played against each other before at junior level, so a Harare Derby does not carry any competitive edge because one player seems not to care about his opponent’s background.’’
However, tomorrow’s Harare Derby is likely to attract a sizeable crowd.