The mere mention of retired Explorer Eleven Football Club playmakers Johannes ‘Storm’ Khom-Geiseb, Milla ‘Khumalo’ Gertze and Levy Landen Festus would have been enough to send shivers down the spine of even the fiercest opponent.
The trio was regarded by many football pundits – and rightly so – as arguably the finest midfield combination of their generation in the mid-80s, tearing through robust defenders like a knife slicing through hot butter.
While the old statesman, Storm, was the architect behind many of the team’s buildups with his uncanny weaving style of play and killer passes, Mila’s tireless magical midfield virtuosity – accompanied by a good eye for goal – added a totally different dimension to Explorer FC’s unique style of ball possession football.
However, the unbelievably commanding display of unheralded attacking midfielder in the shape of burly Johannes Khom-Geiseb was just what the good doctor had ordered for the exciting Kuisebmond outfit.
In today’s edition of your weekly favourite sport feature, Tales of the Legends, New Era Sport profiles the now-defunct untouchable Kuisebmond outfit Explorer Eleven FC, aka Manties.
The year 1964 will be best remembered as the year that two extraordinary football clubs Explorer Eleven (Walvis Bay) and Black Africa (Windhoek) were established.
Ironically, both teams wore the same black and red colours, despite being located miles apart. The two teams were like identical twins in many aspects of the game, both played excellent football as not seen in our neck of the woods in a long time, while the teams were staffed by highly gifted athletes.
Whereas the Gemengde outfit had thefootball genius, late Albert ‘Boetie’ Louw, Spokes Tibinyane, and in later years the slippery Rusten Mogane – the Kuisebmond outfit boasted arguably one of the most underrated midfielders of all time, one Storm Khom-Geiseb.
The likes of Milla Gertze, Levy Landen Festus, Alpheus Gaweseb, Alphons Doeseb, Bandi Namaseb, Roydon Manale, Hellao Namaseb and Samuel Doeseb were all footballers that could have gone on to play anywhere in the world had Namibia attained her democracy during their time.
Explorer Eleven started life in the windswept dunefields of Kuisebmond, Walvis Bay with an array of young, gifted and dedicated footballers craving first team action, as they could not break into the star-studded starting lineups of Namib Woestyn, Blue Waters and Eleven Arrows.
The team started out competing against local teams with the odd game in neighbouring Swakopmund 30 kilometres away against that town’s notable teams, Blue Boys and Atlanta Chiefs. Explorer Eleven announced their arrival in domestic football with a unique style of play that captured the imagination of neutral football fans.
Led by ‘Captain Fantastic’ Hendrik Seibeb, the new kid on the block soon established itself as a formidable force in domestic football, threatening to halt the domination of Woestyn, Blue Waters and Arrows.
Football followers across the country took a liking to the newcomers, as the team displayed a different type of football, a mixture of a touch-direct style of play, complemented by the unbelievable dribbling skills of light skinned attacking midfielder Mila Gertze.
Add the astonishing football genius of bulky midfield general Storm, bolstered by the equally strong presence of the strongly built Levy Landen – a false number nine in modern football parlance – and you have a complete squad with amazing athletes.
A false 9 is a decoy centre forward in a side deliberately put together without a dedicated striker.
And while the team’s rearguard was not exactly as solid as one would have liked any worries in that department were of little significance, because the moment the opposition exposed their fragile defense and scored a goal, Explorer would soon double the lead at the other end of the field without shedding an ounce of sweat.
In later years, Explorer FC reinforced their already star-spangled squad with the arrivals of former Chelsea tough tackling fullback Dave Ameb, Gregory Makhinza, Dave Ameb, Gerson Gariseb, Nice Witbooi, the Goagoseb twins Jephta and Gustav.
Back in the day footballers were made to cough up for traveling expenses, accommodation and meals, but the brothers never wavered as they chased the inflated pigskin just for the love of the beautiful game.
When coastal giants Blue Waters and Arrows broke ties with the Western Football League to join forces with the newly formed breakaway Namibia Super Soccer League (NSSL) in 1985 – Explorers were left to rule the roost at the coast.
However, the rebel league was not quite complete without the presence of the exciting Kuisebmond outfit. League administrators under the stewardship of Five Hochobeb and Oscar Mengo though soon managed to persuade the Kuisebmond side to jump ship and join the elite league.
The expansion of the eight-team Super league saw the arrival of Chief Santos (North), Young Ones and Hungry Lions (both Central) complete the lineup for the twelve-team Super League, joining African Stars, Benfica, Black Africa, Blue Waters, Chelsea, Eleven Arrows, Orlando Pirates and Tigers – to bring the coastal contenders to three teams.
The seaside squad in no time established themselves as a major force to be reckoned with by manufacturing decent results against formidable opponents and surprised both friend and foe when they reached the final of the lucrative Novel Ford Knockout Cup to set up a unforgettable clash against Orlando Pirates.
Unfortunately, the injury-hit seasiders lost 3-1 to Kleintjie Gaseb’s inspired Ghosts at the packed-to-rafters Windhoek Showground. In 1989 Explorer Eleven started the season like a house on fire, leading the log table until the status quo was abruptly disrupted as a result of Namibia’s transition to emocracy.
Sadly, an exodus of a significant chunk of the team’s playing personnel through work commitments elsewhere and the inevitable retirement of some of its stalwarts saw the club suffering a dip in form that contributed to the team’s relegation from the country’s elite league.
Although the team went on to win low-key knockout tournaments in Khorixas and Arandis the squad never really recovered from the setback and subsequently took the inevitable path of the dinosaur.
Now years later, members of the club have come out with guns blazing in an effort to revive and rekindle their beloved club’s ailing fortunes. The team is appealing to Good Samaritans and corporate business entities for financial assistance.
“Our primary objective is to kickstart the project with youth structures, because young footballers are the future of tomorrow. We also plan to embark on an aggressive campaign with coaching clinics in the marginalised communities,” reads a recent statement from the club.
Interested donors are requested to contact the team on 081-4280 700 or 081-355 6522.