Remembering the departed Ghosts’ defender: Rudolf ‘Ou Rudge’ Noariseb 1954-1994

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In a very real sense the tough tackling former Swallows and Orlando Pirates defender, Rudolf Noariseb, was a remarkable player although he started his career with Swallows Football Club – a team of disillusioned footballers – who could not break into the star-studded Orlando Pirates first team.

Lack of regular game time persuaded the fringe players at Pirates to form the black and green strip outfit. The majority of the playing personnel were members of the team’s second strings, joined by those who had fallen down the pecking order of the Ghosts’ first team.
Rudolf Noariseb was amongst the defectors, but his lodging at Swallows was to be short-lived as he left the city of lights (Windhoek) to further his studies at the revered Cornelius Goraseb Secondary School in Khorixas.

In no time, Ou Rudge established himself as no-nonsense defender for the school’s first team and by the time he completed his studies it was only fitting that he would find refuge with boyhood team Orlando Pirates – and, as they say, the rest is history.

 

Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekwa

Windhoek-Back in the day, Katutura giants Orlando Pirates Football Club used to produce a significant number of great footballers, including athletes of unbelievable character.

Whereas Lemmy Narib, Michael Pienaar, Norries Goraseb, Doc Hardley, Willem Eichab, Daniel Koopman, Bassieman Naruseb, Ben Gaseb, Alu Hummel, Brian Greaves, Steve Stephanus, Ambrossius Vyff and Steven Damaseb will be best remembered for their flair – others are known for their no-nonsense approach to the game.

The all-conquering Ghosts outfit of the early 70s is generally regarded by football pundits as the best-ever squad assembled in the club’s illustrious history.

Apart from a lethal striking force, the Ghosts were solid in defense where the cool and calculated Steve ‘Kalamazoo’ Stephanus formed a telepathic partnership with the robust Izaak ‘Whoops’ Gariseb in the central defense.

However, it was the Buccaneers’ two fullbacks Mathews ‘Ou Growes’ Namaseb and John ‘Jackal Trap’ Awarab, who caught the eye with their uncompromising unorthodox tight man marking, accompanied by bone-crunching tackles that instilled fear in the opposition.
Although both players’ style of play and overall ball skill did not inspire the confidence of the neutral fan, their contribution was valuable to their beloved Ghosts.

Inevitably, when the pair reached the twilight of their football careers, it was only fitting that Pirates would be obliged to find successors with an almost identical style to their predecessors.

Ananias ‘Bigman’ Nanuseb and Tsotsie Afrikaner were roped in to succeed Awarab, while stocky fullback Rudolf Noariseb, was recruited to fill the void left by Ou Growes and giant centre-back Whoops Gariseb.

Whereas both Bigman and Tsotsie were slowly ushered into the system, Ou Rudge hit the ground running with his slide tackles, complemented by amazing endurance.

Pirates surely found the prefect replacement for the departed Whoops, as the young fullback, Ou Rudge, went on to establish himself as a valuable squad member of the rejuvenated Buccaneers lineup.

Those in the know would tell you that the Ghosts’ team sheet would be considered incomplete without the name of Ou Rudge penciled on it, unless the stocky fullback was suspended or injured.

The stocky central defender went on to represent the Ghosts with distinction and cemented his place in the starting lineup of the revamped Buccaneers set-up under the stewardship of strict disciplinarian, the late Hans Debasen ‘Zebo’ Engelbrecht, aka Dios.

His arrival at Pirates coincided with the club’s newfound spirit of transformation that saw a number of youngsters taking over the reigns from the old guard.

Quite short and tiny for a centre-back, Ou Rudge perfectly fitted the description of “don’t judge a book by its cover”.

He was quite aggressive and very brave in one-on-one situations. Apart from that, the brother was also very solid in the tackle, notably with his trademark slide tackling and he never pulled out of tough battles.

A late starter in the real sense of the word, Ou Rudge’s presence in the Ghosts rearguard stabilised a leaky defense, alongside the ageing Steve Stephanus.

He was to form a great partnership with Fly Damaseb in the centre of the Buccaneers’ rearguard, where Tsotsie and Bigman operated as wingbacks, with the late Lewa Awaseb stationed between the sticks.

During that time, the inevitable introduction of the multi-racial football league in the then Apartheid South West Africa (SWA) was still in its infant stages.

Despite his lack of height, Ou Rudge was fairly competitive in aerial battles and was also good at going forward.

The presence of white teams changed the complex dynamic of the game, as domestic football took a dramatic turn, changing from the outdated playing system of five defenders and five forwards.

New formations were introduced and perfectly copied, as black footballers were increasingly exposed to the modern techniques of the beautiful game.

Footballers became more innovative, with lots of emphasis placed on ball possession and positioning – gone were the days of just depending on natural talent, endurance and playing long balls.

The likes of Kaizer Chiefs, Morroka Swallows and Orlando Pirates would take turns to come and engage in exhibition matches against local invitational teams in Windhoek – much to the delight of the large crowds that attended.

Unintentionally, Chiefs fast-galloping skipper Johannes ‘Ryder’ Mofokeng introduced the tactic of turning defense into attack with his darting runs along the whitewash down the right side of the field.

His overlapping style of play was perfectly emulated by the likes of George Gariseb (African Stars) and Alacatz Kurivera (Black Africa), while Ou Rudge also followed suit.

A crowd favourite for his amazing endurance and never-say-die attitude, his well-executed trademark acrobatics also made Ou Rudge a darling of local football followers.

He was a gold medalist when the Buccaneers defeated eternal rivals Black Africa in the explosive final of the Mainstay Cup at the packed to rafters Katutura Stadium in 1978.

The Ghosts successfully defended their title the following year – only to be denied victory by an unpopular boardroom decision.

The team had arrived 45-minutes late for the kick-off and although the match was sanctioned to go ahead, the trigger-happy bosses at the South West Africa Football Association (SWAFA) resolved to strip Pirates of their well-deserved triumph – declaring SKW the winner, despite having lost the match 5-3 after extra time.

Sadly, aged 40, Ou Rudge’s life was tragically cut short when he was struck by a wave and washed away while holidaying in Swakopmund.

Eyewitnesses revealed that bro Rudge was having a whale of a time with his buddies at the beach on the irresistible Atlantic Ocean when the freak incident unfolded in November 1994.

The brother was said to have been relaxing on a rock near the sea when he was suddenly ovewhelmed by a strong wave and swept from the rocks. Unable to withstand the current, he disappeared beneath the waves and drowned. His body was only recovered the next day.
May his soul rest in eternal peace.

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