Back in the day at the height of the South African apartheid regime, the beautiful game of football would always take centre stage and used to be without an iota of doubt the most adored pastime among the country’s inhabitants across the colour line.
Skewed discriminatory apartheid laws and inhuman segregation policies prohibited darkies (Bantus) and larneys (whites) from competing at the same level, let alone share common things such as public transport, ablution facilities, eatery spots and many other basics for that matter.
Football, being an unofficial universal healing tool for some reason, succeeded in bringing the divided inhabitants a bit closer to each other, albeit very much to the distaste of authorities.
Hordes of blacks would flock en masse to the compact Windhoek Showgrounds on chilly Friday nights to shout their lungs out for visiting teams competing fiercely in the now defunct South African Football League as a sign of protest against oppression.
In those days, South West Africa (SWA) to be christened Namibia upon the dawn of ilndependence in 1990 – was part and parcel of South Africa, pencilled as the fifth province of the rainbow nation.
Unfortunately and given the relatively small population and insufficient resources available, the semi-desert province was unable to field more than one team in the highly competitive semi-professional South African Provincial Football League.
This led to the formation of Windhoek City Football Club with the newly found team campaigning in the highly competitive South African Professional Soccer League second division. The league consisted of Portuguese outfit Lusitano, Germiston Callies, Shamrocks, Jewish Guild, Boksburg United, Maritzburg City, Arcadia Shepherds, Highlands Park, Hellenic, Port Elizabeth City and Wits University amongst a strong field of competitors.
The star-studded Windhoek City squad comprised of the crème de la crème of local footballers sourced from mainly Ramblers, with few additions from Cohen FC and Sport Klub Windhoek (SKW) aka “Imawida”.
Retired Ramblers tough-tackling fullback Werner Massier was arguably the most adored and easily recognizable squad member of the team from the city of lights under the stewardship of British import Reg Smith.
In today’s edition of Tales of the Legends, New Era Sport brings to you our esteemed readers the unrevealed football journey of this great son of the soil, Werner Massier.
Born in a small village town in Germany, former Windhoek City and Ramblers reliable defender Werner Massier arrived in the then South West Africa (SWA) now Namibia in 1967, aged 23.
Ironically, Massier was attracted to South West Africa from the moment he read an advert in the German Kicker football magazine where Windhoek outfit Ramblers were looking for potential footballers from that neck of the woods.
“I was fascinated by the prospect of a new challenge in a foreign country and immediately filed an application and as they say the rest is history. At the time, I was playing competitive football in the German Amateur Oberliga (2nd division), a very competitive league.
“When I arrived in Windhoek, I was offered a lucrative two-year contract by Ramblers and had no hesitation to sign on the spot.”
His arrival in SWA coincided with the recruitment of several young players led by Don Corbett, Corky Horstemhke, Karl-Heiz Steinfurth (Steini) Hasso Ahrens, Raymond Dodds, Werner “Saxy” Sasse, Gunther Hellinghausen and other great footballers.
Ramblers dominated the national (whites only) domestic league winning almost every available trophy there was to be won.
“We won the SWA Championship hands down in a very competitive set-up where the likes of Sparta, Atlantis, Swakopmund, SKW, Otjiwarongo, Cohen, Okahandja Manschaft, Tsumeb/Kombat and John Meinert Manschaft all gave a good account of themselves.”
Such was Ramblers’ domination in the domestic football league that when SWA was presented with a chance to enter a team in the South African Provincial semi-professional football league, management decided to dissolve the club and renamed the team Windhoek City FC.
The newly established team became the toast of the city of lights and their matches drew large crowds on chilly Friday nights at the compact Windhoek Showgrounds.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of the black community would choose to shout for the visiting teams as a sign of protest against their exclusion from competing on equal footing.
“Those were the good old days, playing in front of big crowds was a motivating factor and morale booster for the players and above all, the atmosphere was just phenomenal. I must confess the competition was extremely tough but we somehow managed to assemble a very competitive squad.”
In the intervening years, Windhoek City attracted more great footballers in the mould of Scottish import Ian Wood, Siggy Anderson, Gunter Hellinhausen, Dennis Mcwayne, Vic Lovell, Ian Buchanan, Peter Rath, Bob Koudelka, Ronnie Hoole, George Hill, Richard Wagner (goalkeeper) and the football crazy Ahrens nephews Gernot and Uwe.
In the meantime, the nationalised German import became the proud sole owner of the popular Werner Massier Sport and Shoe Shops, holed up in the modest Carl List Shopping Arcade.
Massier had a taste of international football when he was selected to represent an all-whites invitational eleven against the visiting Vic Lovell’s inspired Cape Town City in two exhibition matches in Windhoek.
However, Massier sent shockwaves amongst the Ramblers’ faithful when he jumped ship to join forces with the Tunschel Street Boys’ eternal rivals SKW.
Sadly, his flourishing football career would come to a premature end when the no-nonsense defender suffered a career-ending injury after he fractured his leg in a crucial playoff match against City United (formerly Windhoek City).
“It was a terrible injury and I seriously thought I would not be able to resume playing football again.”
After a four-year layoff, the tough-tackling fullback rejoined his beloved Ramblers upon his recovery from the injury. He regained full fitness and became a regular starter for Rammies’ old crocks until his retirement from competitive football at the fairly advanced age of 55.
Next stop was the coastal town of Swakopmund flanked by the giant Atlantic Ocean where he settled whilst exchanging trades. Nevertheless, the ambitious Werner left his adopted land in 1989 for further studies in the field of seashells that would ultimately qualify him as a malacologist.
After fourteen years in Kwazulu/Natal, South Africa – the much-adored former Ramblers stalwart became gravely homesick and returned to his adopted land of the brave in 2003.
The humorous Werner is happily hitched to his lovely bookkeeping wife of 43 years Joan, whom he met in the then Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) at a crocodile farm while on vacation in that country. She bore him two daughters.
Werner rates former Ramblers and Windhoek City teammate Don Corbett as the greatest footballer he has ever rubbed shoulders with on the football pitch.
“In all honesty, I enjoyed playing football and would always cherish our countless and extremely difficult battles with Swakopmund Football Club at the old gravel field next to the beach,” recalls the 72-year old Werner.