The Sunday News
Gone but not forgotten, would probably read the epitaph of one of the best football clubs ever in this country Arcadia United of Harare.
Some of the best talent ever seen from this country in basketball and football was brewed at Arcadia and refined at Danny Bismark Stadium. This was before it could be paraded elsewhere, and among that talent was hard tackling Doorman Moodley, a defender whose brilliance saw him get a national team call-up in the early 1980s.
His career would be cut off at a very mature age of 26 as he chose to explore business. Born in Arcadia on 6 October 1960, Moodley grew up in a sporting family.
“My dad played football. My elder brother Owen played for Arcadia, so the push was from within the family and in no time I found myself captaining Moffat Primary School and playing for our club’s juniors,” said Moodley.
He said because the club was at its best in the 1970s with brilliant footballers, the encouragement came from within the community.
“There were some hot guys in the 1960s and 1970s on our side. We had so many role models to inspire us. We wanted to be like the best they were so we trained hard and played a lot of football to improve our skills. I remember facing up a brilliant Edward Katsvere who would rise to being one of the best footballers in the land when we were juniors,” said Moodley.
He speaks highly of the generation of Bethal Salis, George Rollo, Joseph Galloway and Stewart Gilbert.
As was the norm for boys from Arcadia, Moodley proceeded to Morgan High School. He continued with his football, making it to the first team as a junior where he teamed up with the likes of the legendary Hamid Dhana, Joey Antipas and Bruno Matello who were his seniors.
He said his coaches at school and Arcadia United spotted the talent in him and also leadership. They made him captain and made sure he played with seniors as he was just too good for his peers.
Hammerman, as he was called for his crunching tackles, Moodley is grateful for the work done on him and other youths from Arcadia by then juniors’ gaffer Alvin Goulf. His friends at the juniors’ club included Presley Fisher, Allan Jackson and Paul Eysseien. Among the tournaments Moodley says Arcadia shone at the Chibuku Under-14 and Castle Under-16.
“If we were not winning the Harare leg, we were getting national tournaments as Arcadia. It was great stuff, we would work hard to win tournaments as the club paid good attention to the future of the club and game by investing in youth development,” said Moodley.
A good man eventually gets his break in life. Mick Poole in 1978 promoted the youngster from the club’s Under-18s.
“I was now in both the reserve team and the 18s and Mick Poole called me up to the first team. There were no jitters as I was surrounded by great talent and was immediately thrown into the first team’s heart of defence. There was good cover around me with experienced and excellent footballers. It is when we started traveling to all parts of the country and playing big guys that I had prior to read about,” said Moodley.
On his debut he was partnered with Reggie Payne with Joey Antipas and Farrid Mohammed on the flanks.
“I think I came out with flying colours. I had a lot of praise from my teammates and my confidence grew as a young player. In front of defence we had Majid Dhana, the workhorse who could run all day. The guy could run without running out of steam, he had played centre back before and proved to be great cover to us with Hamid orchestrating our attacking moves for George Rollo, Charlie Jones and Bethal Salis for a potent Arcadia attack,” said Moodley.
The year 1980 brought about a national league with the top sides from the 1979 regional leagues selected. It was more excitement and free from war travel around the country and emergence of new talent.
Moodley says Caps United’s Shaky Tauro and Friday Phiri gave him a torrid time with Joel Shambo, Stix Mutizwa and Stanley Ndunduma finding gaps in midfield to engineer the side’s attacks.
For Dynamos he says Katsvere and Moses Chunga were something else.
He contends that facing Highlanders with an in-form Madinda Khathazile Ndlovu was a tall order.
“Madinda was quick thinking and very fast and would change direction in flight, twist and turn you, while Boy Ndlovu’s amazing footwork was not something a defender wished for. Football was entertaining back then with players who could have played anywhere in the world if born in these times,” said Moodley.
His Arcadia career brought about two Chibuku Trophies with the most memorable one the 1985 one in which with star players like Mike Abrahams and Richard Manda they beat Highlanders 1-0.
“We were a motivated side that played as a unit without emphasis on individuals. We had great players who stood the heat,” said Moodley.
His brilliance in an era where there were star players fighting for national team jerseys earned him several call-ups.
“I would not go because national team football was not paying well,” said Moodley.
At about that time Archieford Chimutanda was injured on national duty and neglected by Zifa, a thing that saw many players shunning the Warriors.
But for Moodley, national team football would not have been an easy stroll in the park. There we so many great centre backs to fend off competition with Sunday Marimo later to change to Chidzambwa leading the pack with his brother Misheck, Douglas Mloyi, Ephert Lungu, Majid Dhana, Reggie Payne, Charles Sibanda, Alexander Maseko, Stephen Chuma, Ephraim Moloi, Bennedict Moyo and Misheck Sibanda.
His most memorable goal was a headed equaliser against Black Rhinos in 1985.
“That was cream we were playing against. Japhet Mparutsa, Ndunduma, Stix and Hamid, Black Rhinos were a very good side. I may not have been so tall, I outjumped the entire Rhinos defence to beat Mparutsa. My strength apart from hard tackles was high jumping for headers, I was always first at high jump at school,” said Hammerman.
Moodley would retire from football in 1986 at just 26. “I decided to call it a day so that I concentrate on my business. Football was not paying back then,” said the former central defence chief.
He now works for former Warriors manager who also chaired Dynamos, Rafik Adams. About the absence of players of Coloured extract from football, Moodley believes it has to do with many having migrated to other countries.
He said also from their communities, children were no longer having their own local football icons to emulate. He said at times children from other communities tended to be lazy, not keen on competition and added that Labani Kandi’s efforts to revive Arcadia was a noble idea.
Arcadia was a dominant side winning the Castle Cup in a row in the late 1960s before Wankie broke the streak in 1970.