Last week, a reader of a column in The Guardian called The Knowledge, which answers questions about sports, asked:
``Zambian Laughter Chilembe has played in Zimbabwe for Caps United FC, while I also know about Suprise Moriri from Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa. But my favourite is one called Have-A-Look Dube playing for Njube Sundowns here in Zimbabwe! Any more strange/funny/good/ridiculous football names anyone can dredge up?''
The Knowledge replied yesterday:
``A quick look reveals some other odd-named players plying their trade in Zimbabwean football for Caps United,'' begins Mark Baker. ``Givemore Manuella, Gift Makolonio and Method Mwanyazi are great names, but they pale into comparison beside Limited Chicafa and the outstandingly-named Danger Fourpence.'' Staying in Africa, there's also Stephen Sunny Sunday, who plays for Polideportivo Ejido, and South Africa's Naughty Mokoena and Tonic Chabalala. ...
A very popular suggestion was Brazilian forward Creedence Clearwater Couto, whose parents were—fortunately—big fans of the American songsters, while there were also calls for former England internationals Harry Daft and Segar Bastard...
However, it would be remiss of us to ignore Anthony Philip David Terry Frank Donald Stanley Gerry Gordon Stephen James Oatway—Charlie to his friends (``I'm named after the QPR 1972-73 promotion-winning team for those of you that have been on the moon all the time I've been at [Brighton]'')
We'll pause The Knowledge in mid-sentence to translate for us moon-dwelling Americans. Oatway is named for all 11 starters on the 1972-73 English soccer team Queens Park Rangers, which finished second in the Second Division of the Football Association, earning a ``promotion'' to play the next season in the First Division. Oatway, 33, currently plays for Brighton & Hove Albion, which is nicknamed the Seagulls and doesn't play against Manchester United or Liverpool or any of the other English soccer teams now owned by Americans. OK, resume The Knowledge:
—or three of our favourites: Australian keeper Norman Conquest, Seychelles star Johnny Moustache, and Congolese striker Bongo Christ.
They get the London papers in Zimbabwe, so it might not have been a coincidence that The Sunday Mail in Harare ran a story about football nicknames this week, with a few real names thrown in. To the pantheon of great Zimbabwean footballers, the paper added Musareka Jenitala. And from the west of the world, it nominated, among others, Yapi Yapi Yapo and Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast), Jerko Leko (Croatia) and Razak Pimpong (Togo).
We couldn’t get over the depth of Caps United, so we checked out the team's roster. We were not disappointed. A full eleven—plus a sub!
1 Gift Muzadzi
2 Brain Badza
6 Herbert Dick
7 Quincy S. Antipas (his teammates must hate it when he gets the ball)
10 Marvel Smanenga
12 Limited Chicafa
16 Danger Fourpence
18 Gift Lunga
19 Givemore Manuella
22 Method Mwanyazi
28 Laughter Chilembe
30 Gift Makolonio
Not for nothing is soccer, in Pele’s felicitous phrase, the beautiful game.
(Trans-Atlantic thanks to NOTY reader Josh.)