Rammies: Trudging on 70 years after

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Windhoek

Precisely 70 years down the line, the club is still going strong as a result of its vision to adapt to changes and integrate people from all walks of life into its systems.
With modern society these days characterised by increasing competition, a battle for survival, less time for fellow citizens, a growing need for materialistic values – in short, egoism is flourishing in the local society.

The club has undertaken to counterbalance these modern trends by promoting teamwork, companionship and unity. Despite the vast difference in backgrounds, diverse cultures or levels of education, one thing is certain, Ramblers Club always believed in unity in diversity.

Ramblers won the inaugural edition of the highly competitive Central Football League (CFA) in 1977 only to stumble against African Stars during the national play offs, finishing runner up overall.
The club was also made to play second fiddle to Stars in the final of the maiden edition of the then popular national knockout competition, the Mainstay Cup. While competing in the predominantly white league, Rammies dominated proceedings and won almost everything there was to be won under the mentorship of wily player-coach Don Corbett.

In 1981, Ramblers came under intense criticism from its white conservative members after management decided to welcome players from across the colour line turning the club into a multi-racial institution up to the modern day.

Former Orlando Pirates blue-eyed boy Eric Muinjo was the first player of colour to join forces with the Pionierspark-based outfit touring the then West Germany with his new club.
Soon thereafter, Bertus Damon previously with Strangers FC and City United also defied the racial barrier and found refuge in Tunschell Street. In the intervening years, the likes of Stanley Coetzee, Brian Fish, Joseph Martin, Henry Bock, also came on board and played a pivotal role in steering Ramblers to victory in the last edition of the coveted Mainstay Cup in 1985.

Ramblers had three representatives in the SWA team that won the Provincial Impala Cup at the old Katutura stadium in 1986 national with Joseph Martin, Bertus Damon and Peter Scwartzer completing the lineup of Ramblers representation. Indeed Ramblers should have had five players had the pair of Bobby Craddock and Jeff Luck not pulled out of the squad due to cricket commitments.

As fate would have it, the formation of the Namibia National Super League (NNSL) saw Ramblers join the low-profile Amateur Soccer Association (ASA) after both Hungry Lions and Young Ones resolved to sever ties with CFA to join the strong NSSL.

After a relatively lean spell in the ASA league by their own standards, with the newly formed Maritimo and SKW at the forefront – Ramblers won the Stoezel Pokal in 1989 – defeating eternal rivals SKW on penalties after the match ended 1-all.

Upon Namibia’s Independence in 1990, Ramblers had to engage in marathon play offs to earn a place in the country’s topflight league, the newly formed Namibia Premier League (NPL).
Spearheaded by the dangerous attacking flair of Juku Tjazuko and Jorge da Purificacao, the midfield artistry of Steven Carr and Allan Concalves, complemented by the rock steady defensive play of Stakes Coetzee and Mark Kurzner – Ramblers managed against all odds to claim a place among the country’s top 16 teams.

It took Rammies just two seasons to re-establish themselves as a major force to be reckoned with in domestic football. The team won the coveted league title under the stewardship of Gary “the Lip” Sales in 1992 subsequently competing in the CAF Club Champions League where they were narrowly edged out by Mozambican opponents Costa da Sol over two legs.

Ramblers attracted the crème de la crème of Namibian footballers with the likes of Tollie van Wyk, Donkey Madjiet, Nikita Hivei, Roydon Manale, Dove Fransman, Packs Ushona, Willy Fredericks, Larney Madjiet, Baka Adams, Reney Claasen, George Kanambunga, Rudi Pahl and Agenda Matongo all came on board, while foreigners Mundu Camana (striker) and giant goalkeeper Chico Concalves also joined the fray.

Ramblers, playing under the name of Windhoek Optics Ramblers was to be transformed from amateur to semi-professional status.

In June 2005, gangling striker Henrico Botes made the headlines when he was sold to South African Professional Soccer League outfit Moroka Swallows for an undisclosed transfer – crowning an excellent season for the club by winning the coveted Tafel Lager NFA Cup and finishing third in the NPL.

By end of October the same year, another Ramblers player, Quinton “Magic” Jacobs, joined Ajax Cape Town. Another active member of the close-knit Ramblers family is doubtlessly the Ramblers Old Boys who are largely the backbone of the organisational and logistical aspects of this great club.

To sum it up, for any institution or as a matter of fact, any person to reach 60 years of existence is without doubt a milestone in one’s lifetime. There is an old saying that getting to the top is much easier than staying up there, Ramblers suffered the humiliation of relegation in 1996 but the club bounced back and was back in familiar territory in 2000.

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