Tribute to an icon gone too soon

1
64
Times (above) will be laid to rest tomorrow in his hometown Okahandja. Funeral proceedings start with a prayer service at his home and thereafter mourners will proceed to the Bethesda Lutheran Church to pay their last respects to the departed football hero before his remains are taken to his final rest place for burial. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Timotheus ‘Lemmy’ Goagoseb (1955–2013) 

In today’s edition of our weekly feature, Inside the Aged, we mourn the loss and at the same time celebrate the life of one of the most gifted local footballers to have come out of our neck of the woods. The late Timo Goagoseb (58) better known as Lemmy used to be subjected to all sorts of abuse including unprintable words, and unsavoury and derogatory epithets, including DTA, Herero slave, sell out and Judas Iscariot from the holy book.

His sin together with boyhood buddies Doc Naobeb, George Gariseb and Ishmael Khoeseb was that they dared to cross the tribal chasm by playing for a predominantly Otjiherero-speaking football team in the shape of African Stars. “Nowadays, one must have loads of money to earn the respect of society unlike in the old days where we were adored by many for our exploits on the football field.” Those were the heart-wrenching words from Timo when New Era Sports visited him at his modest home in Okahandja, exactly five years before he expended his last breath to be reunited with his ancestors.   

 

OKAHANDJA – With a vibrant culture and true sporting spirit, African Stars became trendsetters in breaking down the strong tribal barriers that existed between local football clubs during the height of apartheid. It would be foolish to ignore the significant role played by the combined Okahandja Native School, whose protégés formed the spine of the most successful African Stars line-up. The likes of Doc Naobeb, Oscar Mengo, Ace Tjirera, Merino Kandonga, Ishmael “Zambia” Khoeseb, Albert Tjihero, and George Gariseb were all products of the Garden Town and would mingle freely amongst each other at some point during their formative days on the football pitch.

The road to stardom for the young Timo, who was born on Farm Asgard in the Midgard surroundings near Ovitoto, started at the Okahandja Native Primary School. Timo showed talent and skill way belying his tender age during his early days playing street football alongside homeboys Axali Doeseb of Ugly Creatures fame and well-known author of the national anthem. He also rubbed shoulders with Zambia Khoeseb, Festus Tjikuua, Merino Kandonga, Takoeza Matheus and Kambindja Namene among a host of boyhood buddies. “We used to showcase our football skills with a tennis ball glued to our feet during the short breaks, but after school it was always serious business as the boys went for broke in the popular two bob stake games comprising of 10 halftime – 20 hooray!”

When the trio of SWA Gertze, Stephanus Naobeb and Phillip Garus-Oab decided to form a team of youngsters named Battle Boys FC in 1970, it was only to be expected that the highly talented Times would be among the first recruits to don the black and white colours of the exciting youthful outfit. “At the time, I was attending school at the St Joseph’s Secondary School (Döbra) and always featured for Magic Tigers Football Club in Okahandja during off weekends and school holidays.” In the meantime, Battle Boys became the toast of Nau-Aib with their exciting brand of carpet football after they recruited a significant number from among the finest young footballers on offer in the football talent laden Garden Town.

“We mainly competed against local teams Black Beauty Chiefs (BBC), Spoilers, Magic Tigers, Cedonians and Strangers, whilst we regularly featured in several knockout tournaments around the country.” Timo did not exactly have fond memories of his abbreviated stint with Katutura giants Orlando Pirates while still a student at Döbra. “They (Pirates) heard about me and managed to arrange two friendly matches against Döbra, but unfortunately for me I was playing for the school’s second team during that period and had to take my place in the reserves against Pirates’ second strings. Just before the first team commenced, Pirates management wanted to have a closer look at the football sensation and promptly requested Meester Willem Hans, to have young Times included in their first team for the warm-up against Döbra’s first team.

“I must have impressed the Ghosts hierarchy, because after that they would always come to the school and drag me along to turn out for Pirates in what they considered crucial matches.” His arrival at the Ghosts allowed him to taste victory in topflight football, when Pirates won a high profile tournament in Walvis Bay. He eventually developed itchy feet and abandoned the Ghosts nest as a result of what he termed bad behaviour among the team’s big stars. “I just could not keep up with the bad vibe in the change room demonstrated by some of the team’s so-called star players.”

Such was the dominance of Battle Boys around the Garden Town that when multi-racial football was introduced, the black and white stripped outfit was among the very first teams to be taken up in the highly competitive Central Football Division One League in 1977. Timo was installed player/coach for Battle Boys FC, but later left his beloved club after he was persuaded by his homeboys Doc Naobeb and George Gariseb to join forces with Katutura glamour football club African Stars in Windhoek. “Stars used to be a well-organized unit with very committed footballers complemented by exceptional talent and a high level of discipline among the playing personnel. It was the first time in my entire football career that I got to know about issues such as code of conduct for players and how players are expected to behave on and off the field.” In actual fact, Timo was a ruthless striker, but his fortunes eventually changed for the better by default. Stars were camping at Döbra when tragedy struck. Regular left back Zebedeus ‘Merino’ Kandonga, got injured during a practice session and with no recovery in sight prior to a major cup tournament, young Times was thrown into the deep end by being converted into an ersatz left back by then player-coach Oscar ‘Silver Fox’’ Mengo.

He came out unscathed from his new task and would go onto make the No 3 jersey his own property and in the process relegating the more experienced, but ageing Merino to the substitutes’ bench. As time wore on, Stars assembled possibly the best line-up ever in the history of the club since its established in 1952. Players like Oscar Mengo, Doc Naobeb, Immanuel Kamuserandu, Kaputji Kuhanga, Ben Kauejao, Willy Katire, Kaika Kuzee, George Gariseb, Ndjiva Kauami, Ace Tjirera, Kierie Tjituaiza, Willy Rwida, Albert Tjihero and Congolese refugee Zenga Dodo formed the backbone of the all-conquering Stars outfit with very few teams if any, able to match the invincible Reds pound for pound under the stewardship of co-coaches Kella Kauta and Dieter Widmann.

“The arrival of the ball playing centre back Willy (Rwida) brought a new dimension to our game, because he persuaded the team to abandon the old fashioned ‘skop and donner’ style and the players started playing football the way it should be played by launching attacks from the back and this particular style confused many of our opponents, allowing us to mesmerize the opposition at will. We became very strong and completely unbeatable as we won several knock-out tournaments, including the much-sought-after annual Top-16 Cup in Tsumeb, added to the two Mainstay Cup triumphs we claimed consecutively in 1980 and 1981. In those days, George and I used to live in Okahandja training on our own and would only join the rest of the squad members on match days.”

Timo regarded Blue Waters stocky midfielder Tuhafeni ‘Koko’ Muatunga as his fiercest rival on the football pitch, while he was also quick to mention former teammate Mengo as the greatest footballer to have emerged out of the shores of domestic football during his generation. “Oscar was something out of this world, he could win a match with one moment of individual brilliance, because he was such a phenomenal athlete and very tricky. In fact, he was a rare talent in the real sense of the word,’’ recalled Lemmy in an exclusive interview with New Era Sports in 2009.

Though he was once selected for trials to the South West Africa (SWA) Invitational side for the South African Provincial Currie Cup team, Timo never made it to the final squad, but managed to get some consolation when he was chosen to represent an invitational league team against the visiting Orlando Pirates from South Africa at the old Katutura Stadium (today Sam Nujoma Stadium). “It was a great feeling playing against the likes of Jomo Sono, Webster Lechaba, Toy Ramosa and Patson Banda. I will always cherish those wonderful moments.” Times passed away at his home in Okahandja’s oldest residential area Nau-Aib last week Thursday, October 10, 2013 after losing a long battle against stomach cancer.

 

By Carlos Kambaekwa

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here