The Sunday News
FORMER Wankie FC midfielder Chrispen Nyoni will always remember the goal he scored against Dynamos in a BAT Super League encounter in the 1980s.
Nyoni was on target for the Colliery side in a crashing 4-1 win over the then 1980 and 1981 league champions.
It probably rates the biggest win over the Harare side in a league match by the Colliery side who were victors in a marathon penalty shootout in 1973 over the same opponents. This was in the 1973 Castle Cup final.
“I won’t forget beating DeMbare 4-1 at the Colliery Stadium. I scored the opener on that afternoon,” said Nyoni.
He was among a crop of youngsters below the age of 23 in 1981 which promised to take the Colliery side to dizzy heights as the generation of the two Castle Cup conquests were retiring one after the other.
Nyoni had emerged from the once vibrant Wankie Amateur Football Association side Kabwe Warriors. Warriors from Makwika or Number Three (3) Village were among the top sides in Hwange. A number of great players for Wankie turned out for the side and neighbours Brazil FC in the competitive local league.
What made the league hot was the fact that players who would not have made it into the Wankie FC first team used to turn out for local clubs. With a pool of over 30, the Colliery giants’ would use 13 stars a match and rest spread into some of the local sides. Back then it was more like a taboo to buy a player from elsewhere, you had to be better than the locals.
Hence likes of Rodrick Simwanza (Victoria Falls), George Phiri (Kamativi), Nyaro Mumba (Gwayi River), Jimmy Sibanda and Joseph Mapholisa (Eastlands) and Barry Daka were extra good and were able to leave a mark at the club.
Nyoni admits there was a weight of expectation when he broke into the first team. The club was losing its heroes of the past decade. Fans wanted results. Every junior had to be as good as Stephen Chuma, Posani Sibanda, Daniel Rendo, Austin Ncube, Amos Rendo, Sam Mutende, Twyman Ncube, Paul Moyo, Chutika Tembo and Isaac Phiri.
It was quite a tall order. Nyoni who started his local league football career with Kabwe in 1978 competed with other young players for the rookies’ attention.
His generation had Skeva Phiri, Barton Mwalukuka, Lucky Mwanza, Mubi Muntu and younger protégés Duli Ncube, Benson Soko, Cephas Sibanda, Machona Sibanda and David Zulu all gems in their own right.
After a sterling performance in Kabwe Warriors’ colours in the 5-1 drubbing of Zobalikanazo, the writing was on the wall that Nyoni would join Mwape Sakala’s Wankie FC.
“Club manager John Moyo was so happy after that match that he gave the team $100 which was a lot of money in 1980 to go and celebrate,” said Nyoni. What was even special for Nyoni and his friends was that the match was played at the Colliery Stadium. It was a preserve to play on that turf. It had to be a curtain raiser, main Wankie FC match, General Manager’s Trophy or the Charity Cup. Playing there was a big incentive as every player wanted to step on the theatre of football dreams for locals.
Nyoni found veterans like Merlvin Kennedy, Leonard Tembo, Posani Sibanda, Dickson Banda, Isaac Phiri, Mumba, Simwanza, Amos Rendo, Machona Sibanda, David Zulu, Philemon Nyathi, Chris Yoyo, Nathan Maduku, Jimmy Sibanda, Denis Gumunyu, Lazarus Mwambopo, Mwalukuka, Kakoma Kayonga, Benson Soko, Leonard Tembo and Johannes Kazambiya.
It was a strong team led in attack by the exciting David Khumalo, undoubtedly one of the best wingers ever in the country.
Nyoni who had been employed by the Colliery played for the club for almost six years. Injury and change of coaches forced him into early retirement but by then his name had already been written in bold among the team’s greats and Kabwe Warriors legends.
But before his retirement he had played with younger arrivals Shepherd Muradzikwa, Lazarus Mwambopo, Labani Ngoma, Adam Hungwe, David Phiri and Chris Piningo.
“I liked playing against Caps United and the tussles against Stix M’tizwa and Stanley Ndunduma. Bosso’s Willard Khumalo also provided competition. The other clubs I played as I wanted as there was no competition from their midfielders,” said the midfield maestro.
For Nyoni it all started at Iminyela Flats where the natural route was playing for Bulawayo Wanderers.
Born on 17 July 1958, Nyoni moved to Bulawayo as a kid and attended school at Induba Primary School.